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Strategy Books

Business Strategy Books Reviewed By Paul Simister

This page has links to my reviews of books for general strategy issues at Amazon.co.uk. I have a more specialised page for Differentiation & Unique Selling Propositions which is a particular interest of mine.

I aim to be a tough reviewer and after the title and author, I include a sentence that summarises my longer review. I rarely read books that other reviewers have flagged as three stars or less so there should be a bias to the better books.

Five star review books are strongly recommended and four star review books are recommended. Three star books may be suitable for you if you meet the specific needs and caveats about the book.

What’s lacking is a really good strategy book for smaller businesses because strategic thinking is not the same as preparing a business plan to raise finance.

FIVE STARS – Excellent

***** Competitive and Corporate Strategy by Cliff Bowman & David Faulkner – while this is written for managers and academic students, it is probably my favourite book on strategy. It was the one that first helped me to understand the idea of customer value and how differentiation can be focused on a few specific issues (My review on this website). This is available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

Hypercompetition by Richard A. D’Aveni – a very important book that challenges the orthodoxy of strategic planning if competitive advantages are created and then disappear very quickly. Think high-tech industries and their short product life-cycles. It’s a challenging but rewarding read (My review). This is available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

Blue Ocean Shift: Beyond Competing – Proven Steps to Inspire Confidence and Seize New Growth by W Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne – A detailed how to guide for developing blue ocean strategies. (My review)

The Strategy and Tactics of Pricing: A Guide to Profitable Decision Making (Third Edition) by Thomas Nagle & Reed Holden – a superb look at pricing. It’s where strategy meets the road. This book has been updated since I read it and the latest versions are written by Thomas Nagle and John Hogan (My review). This is available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors by Michael E. Porter – A classic strategy book that goes well beyond the five forces model and the generic strategies (My review).This is available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance by Michael E. Porter – Very challenging but very rewarding if you’re interested in competitive advantage. This is the book that gave us the value chain but there is plenty more in the book about how to compete aggressively or defensively (My review). This is available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

Your Strategy Needs a Strategy: How to Choose and Execute the Right Approach by Martin Reeves, Knut Haanaes and Janmejaya Sinha – a thought-provoking guide to helping you to select the right kind of strategic approach that’s suitable for your opportunity (My review). This is available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

The Trouble with Strategy by Kim Warren – This is a hard hitting assessment of the world of strategy and it reveals that it is very sick, heading for intensive care even though many practitioners are in denial. Too many conflicting ideas and too little building on established, accepted ideas means that strategy as a discipline hasn’t advanced as quickly as it should (My review). This is available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

FOUR STARS – Good To Very Good & Well Worth Reading

Developing Business Strategies by David Aaker – this is a very practical book for managers to think about strategy and an updated version would probably be a five star book but this was last updated in 2001. (My review on this website) Amazon.co.uk

Strategy in Practice by Cliff Bowman – a very practical guide to strategy for senior managers. (My review) Amazon.co.uk

Simplified Strategic Planning: The No-Nonsense Guide for Busy People Who Want Results Fast by Robert W Bradford – a very good book for SMEs who want or need to put together a strategic plan and then implement it. (My review) Amazon.co.uk

Competing for the Future by Gary Hamel and C. K. Prahalad – the book that introduced the idea of core competences and it still raises important issues. (My review) Amazon.co.uk

Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works by AG Lafley and Roger L Martin – this is a very good book to help you to focus on the five big strategy questions but it’s dominated by talk of Proctor & Gamble which costs it a star for the small business owner. (My review) Amazon.co.uk

Understanding Michael Porter: The Essential Guide to Competition and Strategy by Joan Magretta – this is a very approachable book that makes it easy to understand his thinking which is often misrepresented by authors who want to differentiate themselves. It’s more for MBA students and managers in bigger businesses than a small business owner. (My review) Amazon.co.uk

The Well Timed Strategy: Managing the Business Cycle for Competitive Advantage by Peter Navarro – 2008 was a reminder that we need to pay attention to the external environment because there are right and wrong times to take certain actions. (My review) Amazon.co.uk

Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers by Alexander Osterwalder et al – the book looks great, has an interesting concept but in the end I felt there was more style than substance. (My review) Amazon.co.uk

Good Strategy/Bad Strategy: The difference and why it matters by Richard Rumelt – a critique of modern strategic planning practices but it’s more about strategic thinking than how to put together a strategic plan. (My review) Amazon.co.uk

Value Drivers: The Manager’s Guide to Driving Corporate Value Creation by Mark C. Scott – Written for the busy manager who wants to understand business strategy but not a “how to do it” guide. (My review) Amazon.co.uk

Three Steps Ahead: Thinking Strategically to Avoid Unintended Consequences by David Silverstein – a well written, wide-ranging review of the ways to expand your thinking about business strategy and change projects. (My review) Amazon.co.uk

The Profit Zone: How Strategic Business Design Will Lead You to Tomorrow’s Profits by Adrian J. Slywotzky – a superb book when it was published which is still valuable in 2015. (My review) Amazon.co.uk

The Art of Profitability by Adrian J. Slywotzky – a fable of different business models. (My review) Amazon.co.uk

Profit Patterns: 30 Ways to Capture Profit for Your Business by Adrian Slywotzky – an interesting way of making sense of your analysis to see the big picture. (My review) Amazon.co.uk

The 80/20 Rule: Putting the Power of the Pareto Principle to Work in Your Strategic Planning and Business Development by Ron Taylor – An 80/20 business parable (My review)

The One Page Business Strategy: Streamline Your Business Plan in Four Simple Steps by Marc Van Eck and Ellen Leenhouts – A nice summary planning process (My reviewAmazon.co.uk

Strategy Dynamics Essentials by Kim Warren – this applies cause and effect logic to strategy as resources build or diminish over time. (My review) Amazon.co.uk

THREE STARS – Worthwhile

I’ve only brought across to this website, reviews for five and four star books from Amazon.

The Boston Consulting Group on Strategy: Classic Concepts and New Perspectives – this book is more for people who are interested in how ideas for strategy have developed than how to actually think about strategy in the 21st century.

Systems Thinking Strategy: The New Way to Understand Your Business and Drive Performance by Jimmy Brown PhD – more focused on strategy than systems thinking and how it impacts on business strategy.

Battling Big Box: How Nimble Niche Companies Can Outmaneuver Giant Competitors by Henry Dubroff – a book about small business success but I felt that it didn’t really address the issue in the title of winning against giant competitors.

Customer Delight: Strategic Insights for Market Leaders by Alain Guillemain – well intentioned but try the kindle sample before you buy.

The Systems Thinking Approach to Strategic Planning and Management by Stephen Haines – a very dry read and the author is keen to introduce his own terminology rather than using standard terms. This didn’t live up to the title of continuous adaptation to feedback loops.

Patterns of Strategy by Patrick Hoverstadt and Lucy Loh – Too small on Kindle and you can’t resize

Strategy Safari: The Complete Guide Through the Wilds of Strategic Management by Henry Mintzberg et al – this book looks at the ten different schools of strategy but I felt that it created false separations.

The Lean Product Playbook: How to Innovate with Minimum Viable Products and Rapid Customer Feedback by Dan Olsen – excellent for software development, an interesting start for others but it becomes less relevant.

Summary: The 80/20 Principle: Review and Analysis of Koch’s Book – Useful summary of an important book

TWO STARS – Disappointing & Not Recommended

End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business by Rita Gunther McGrath -this was a big disappointment as I felt old ideas were being recycled.

The Co-Creation Paradigm by Venkat Ramaswamy & Kerimcan Ozcan – I found this hard going and I think it’s better to start with one of the early books on the concept.

Angel Customers & Demon Customers: Discover Which Is Which, and Turbo-Charge Your Stock by Larry Selden et al – it’s a shame that this is so focused on giant companies because the idea that not all customers are good is important to understand.

ONE STAR – A Waste Of Time

Business Strategy: Strategic Positioning with Strategimetric Profiles by Stuart Cook – needs better editing and less self promotion.

Other books about strategy and how to create a competitive advantage are included on the Differentiation & Unique Selling Propositions page.

Navigation To Other Book Reviews

There are many thousand of business books, you can see the full list of my reviews at Business Books Reviews by Paul Simister. I’ve also narrowed these down to a list of the 12 Best Business Books For Business Owners & Entrepreneurs.

Five Star Books (All Topics)Marketing, Sales & Strategy Books – USP & DifferentiationStrategyCustomer PsychologyCopywritingGeneral MarketingInternet MarketingPricingSales TrainingCustomer Service

Paul Simister is a business coach who helps business owners who are stuck, get unstuck. If your business is based in the UK, you can have a free Business SOS consultation with me to help you get unstuck.