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Best Business Strategy Books

An effective strategy is needed for every company to succeed. A lot can be learned from the best strategy books but you will need to think to apply the ideas.

You Already Have An Emergent Strategy

Whether you intended to or not, you already have a strategy. Something emerges from what you do inside your business and out in your market even if you haven’t taken the time to plan out:

– What you want to achieve in the longer term;
– Who you want to sell to;
– What you want to sell;
– Who you intend to survive the inevitable competition.

The question is…

Is It Working For You?

Is your emergent strategy working for you or against you? Is it really helping you to move to your long term goals, even if those goals are intangible thoughts you have about what to do when you retire.

If it isn’t, you need to change your strategy or to develop a deliberate strategy and implement it. These strategy books will help you think about how you can get what you want whilst delighting customers and beating your competitors.

The Best Books About Strategic Planning, Strategic Management and Strategic Thinking

You will only see the books I’ve rated at Four Stars (meaning good and well worth reading) and Five Stars (excellent and very highly recommended). Reviews of lower rated books appear on Amazon.co.uk but I haven’t brought the reviews across to my own website.

If you read my reviews, you’ll see I try to explain why I like them but also to identify any weaknesses. My job as a reviewer is to help you to find the most appropriate books rather than to help sell more books.

On that note, if you do decide to buy, I’d appreciate it if you could click through to Amazon on my links as (hopefully) I’ll earn a small referral commission.

Some of these books can be very expensive so, if you’re happy with a hard back or paperback book, take a look at the second hand options on Amazon. Personally I only buy if the condition is described as “As New” or “Very Good” unless I’m really keen and forced to drop down to “Good”.

This is one of my favourite categories.

I have a particular interest in how businesses differentiate from each other and therefore stand out from competitors. These are included in a separate category of the Best Differentiation Strategy Books which also includes books about branding and developing Unique Selling Propositions (the famous USP).

Five Star Business Strategy Books

Here are the strategy book rated at the Five Stars level which I want to bring to your attention in particular. Some are fairly hard going but will explode your understanding.

Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors by Michael Porter

Porter set out to explain why some industries or sectors of industries are more profitable than others.

Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance by Michael Porter

In this book, Porter turned his attention from the industry to the business and it could create a competitive advantage and earn higher profits.

These books by Porter represent what can be thought of as the orthodox thinking, mainly because of the massive impact the books had when they were published back in the 1980s. They have formed the basis for what has been taught on MBA courses at the top Business Schools for years.

Competitive and Corporate Strategy by Cliff Bowman and David Faulkner

If forced to choose, this Bowman/Faulkner book is probably my favourite strategy book but it’s gone out of print.

Hypercompetition: Managing the Dynamics of Strategic Maneuvering by Richard A. D’Aveni

D’Aveni brilliant predicts how markets can be transformed when old competitive advantages become irrelevant. This is a challenging read.

Creating Value: Shaping Tomorrow’s Business by Shiv S Mathur and Alfred Kenyon

A different look at strategy and differentiation in particular. Hard going but very thought-provoking.

Blue Ocean Strategy:Expanded Edition: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant by W Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne

Blue Ocean Shift: Beyond Competing – Proven Steps to Inspire Confidence and Seize New Growth by W Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne

Interesting look at how you can find a new market without competitors by finding an innovative solution to customers needs, wants and problems. The first book explains the ideas and the second tells you how tos et up your own Blue Ocean project.

The Trouble with Strategy: The brutal reality of why business strategy doesn’t work and what to do about it by Kim Warren

Your Strategy Needs a Strategy: How to Choose and Execute the Right Approach by Martin Reeves, Knut Haanaes and Janmejaya Sinha

The Warren book is a critical look at the development of strategy as a discipline as technological changes have undermined existing thinking and the Reeves book goes a long way to explaining what you need to do to pick the right strategic approach for your particular market.

What I haven’t found is an excellent book on strategy for small business owners who are competing in markets where they have significant market share and their actions impact on competitors and vice-versa. I’m still looking.

Four Star Business Strategy Books

Strategy In Practice by Cliff Bowman

Simplified Strategic Planning by Bradford and Duncan with Brian Tarcy

Competing for the Future by Gary Hamel and CK Prahalad

Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson

The Well Timed Strategy by Peter Navarro

Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur

Value Drivers by Mark C Scott

Three Steps Ahead by David Silverstein

The Profit Zone by Adrian J. Slywotsky and David J. Morrison

Profit Patterns by Adrian Slywotzky and David Morrison

The Art of Profitability by Adrian Slywotzky

The One Page Business Strategy by Marc Van Eck and Ellen Leenhouts

Strategy Dynamics Essentials by Kim Warren

Other Categories of Best Business Books

Business PlanningBusiness TurnaroundDifferentiation StrategyEconomicsEnergy & EnvironmentalFinanceGetting UnstuckKPI & Performance MeasurementLeading Your TeamMarketingProfit ImprovementProject ManagementRecessionRetail BusinessSpecific Niche Markets

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.

Radical Focus by Christina Wodtke

All The Right Moves by Constantinos Markides

Blue Ocean Shift by W Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne

Competitive Strategy by Michael Porter

Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson

Value Drivers by Mark C Scott