Title: The Strategist – Be the leader your business needs
Author: Cynthia A. Montgomery
“Are you a strategist?” – Oh! What a question to be thrown at CEOs in the opening class of a course? If it is followed by other questions such as: “If you closed its (your company) doors today, would your customers suffer any real loss?” or “Does your company matter?” it is bound to make any seasoned participant uncomfortable. These are definitely not comfortable questions for a young leader who goes to a general management program seeking tips for personal and organizational growth. But these are the questions that Professor Cynthia Montgomery begins her sessions on strategy with, in the famous Harvard course titled “Entrepreneur, Owner, President Program”. Her initiative to convert her sought after sessions into a book is a boon to the many who may not be lucky to sit through them. It is especially a great opportunity for the many of us who may not be able to sit through her class at Boston, to gain a peek into her teaching, message and lessons.
Being an ardent enthusiast of the subject called ‘strategy’, I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of her book. Apart from providing a review of most of the concepts of strategy, her insights into ‘value creation and capture’ was very interesting and extremely useful, because I work so closely now with entrepreneurs / emerging enterprises. Her choice of cases used in the book to highlight concepts drive home the point thoroughly. Though the strategy wheel may seem an old concept, it is not commonly taught at many B-Schools in this part of the world, and I am sure readers will find it interesting.
Prof Cynthia Montgomery’s intention to bring the focus of the subject to the protagonist – the strategist is a brilliant thought. Though it may seem obvious to some, it is so only in hindsight. The importance of the strategist to the business, understanding the role and them honing their skills to ensure they bring the much-needed strategic thinking to their business is beautifully weaved. The book is written in a casual style and it almost feels like the author is speaking to you in a classroom setting. The choice of cases especially that of Apple and Ikea, the storytelling skill while presenting them reflects the prowess that has made her classes so legendary in the course. While teaching a case in class can keep the audience engaged, the author’s skill in keeping the reader as attentive and involved is admirable.
Totally enjoyed the book and loved the last few pages where the author provides a beautiful list of suggested reading. Though I have read some of them, there are few interesting suggestions that I take away especially as a strategy scholar. Any reader will gain a few new references for sure, whatever be the level of involvement and adeptness in the subject.