A very useful textbook on business strategy

Over-reliance on any particular approach to strategy is dangerous, according to Max McKeown in his book The Strategy Book. That is why it is important to recognise the difference between creative and analytical approaches to strategy, consider a broad range of different strategy tools, and decide which might be the most helpful for your situation. The book starts with the basics of strategy, so does not require the reader to have any prior knowledge of the subject.

The author goes on to provide a number of chapters or “action topics” on acting and thinking strategically, creating strategy, winning with strategy, and making strategy work, ending with a “tool kit” consisting of numerous well-known strategic models and tools. Each “action topic” is set out in a concisely structured format, including “objective”, “context”, “challenge”, “success”, “pitfalls”, “checklist”,  and “related ideas” sections.

It is apparent from the videos on the author’s website that he is a “T-shirt and leather jacket” kind of business consultant, rather than “suit and tie”. However, this does not translate into any lack of clarity in his writing, which is extremely logical and easy to understand. Rather than trying to provide a new all-encompassing strategy model, the author takes the pragmatic approach that most businesses will benefit from using multiple strategy models and pursuing multiple sources of competitive advantage. Accordingly, the book is a survey of existing knowledge in the field of business strategy, rather than an original contribution to that field.

Readers who have already read a number of books on business strategy may find the early parts of the book to be fairly basic, but there is plenty of interesting content in parts 4 (“Winning with strategy”) and 5 (“Making your strategy work”). I would have preferred a more detailed investigation of many of the topics covered and more detailed stories about the companies given as strategic examples, but on the whole I think that this book is a very useful textbook on business strategy.

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