Reviews - What do customers think about The Art And Discipline Of Strategic Leadership?
New Isn't Necessarily Better Dec 12, 2007
This is a follow-up to Tregoe and Zimmerman's original work on strategy, Top Management Strategy: What It Is and How It Works. Incredibly, the author, who is an officer with the firm of Kepner-Tregoe, only includes Ben Tregoe as "with" instead of a co-author, and manages to make a great, clean, Occam's Razor of a concept into a convoluted detour. The crisp "driving forces" of the original book have been recombined, and not with a great deal of reasoning, and long passages are created to provide some mathematical support for issues that don't need it. It seems to me that Freedman is trying to jam in something representing his contribution to the process when he really has nothing to add. His corporate examples seem arbitrary and inserted simply to try to make the appeal more international.
The original book is one of the best anywhere on strategy with its clear definitions and seminal use of the "driving force." It's too bad it may no longer be widely available. This newer book is a poor successor and is remarkably ungracious to Ben Tregoe, who passed away a year or so ago, and was one of the great thinkers in this field. If you can get the original, do so. The two stars I've given this one are purely for what Freedman has retained of the original.
Good book, but it could have been better Apr 22, 2006
Strategic leadership certainly requires discipline, and it clearly is an art form. But it is not as complicated as the authors would have their readers believe. Furthermore, the 5-phase model for strategy formulation and implementation that the authors claim to have developed is not unique. It's the same model just about any entrepreneur who writes a sound business plan uses to start a new business, and entrepreneurs have been around since before the authors were born.
I think the book was written adequately well, and I recommend that entrepreneurs who have read a few books on how to write a business plan read this book, too. I would have liked the book better if the authors had first described what a company founder goes through when he or she practices strategic leadership in starting his company. Then explain what the company founder (or his or her replacement) must do to monitor the strategy, renew it, or possibly change it. Then, and only then, discuss real-world examples about how it is hard to monitor strategy, renew it, or possibly change it. I did not like the way the authors sprinkled real-world examples throughout the text. I think they should have been included in a separate section of the book.
If the authors had titled the book "The Art and Discipline of Strategic Leadership at Large Multi-National Companies," then I would have rated it higher. Strategic leadership at large companies is complicated because of their size, and because their leaders are probably not all that competent at thinking strategically. It is hard to implement strategic change in something that is old and big, especially if one hasn't been at the helm for long.
Probably the most important thing I learned from reading this book is that many people enjoying the role of CEO in large multi-national businesses hire consultants to educate them on things they would already know if they had ever started their own successful small business. I would not have learned this if the authors had kept to describing strategic leadership rather than the problems large companies face regarding their strategic leadership. This book is worth a read, but it is not a masterpiece.
Effective Strategic Thinking Mar 6, 2003
I have long believed that any organization without a cogent strategy is vulnerable. Too much strategic thinking these days is driven, in my opinion, by a desire to appeal to Wall Street investment bankers and analysts or by a dot.bomb-fueled fear of failure.
Strategy is a two-headed prong. It is creative enough to fashion a vision, while being disciplined enough to drive the vision into reality.
Mike Freedman defines the word as the �framework of choices that determine the nature and direction of an organization.� It is a definition I like. The word �framework� establishes boundaries and scope. �Choices� are about products, services, markets and capabilities. �Nature� describes the character of any organization. �Direction� is the organization�s course determined by choices about future products, services, customers and markets.
Notice that a decision is not strategic simply because it is long-term or involves mega-dollar expenditures. While these can be made within the strategic framework, only those decisions that change the framework are strategic.
Freedman says there are three critical aspects to a strategy:
1. A strategic vision is based on facts, informed assumptions and critical what-if thinking. 2. The vision must be communicated throughout the organization. 3. Its implementation must be monitored.
I particularly enjoyed the section on Strategic Master Project Planning. Freedman says the purpose of master project plan is to assess the necessary strategic initiatives, integrate the existing operation projects, identify project priority and interdict those projects which are out of line with the strategic vision.
This is a great book. As always, organizations that desire to survive and thrive will have to mast the art of strategy creation and implementation. The Kepner-Tregoe five phase model on which Freedman bases this book is a great foundation for organizations and managers who wish to begin the journey.
A well-crafted book on strategic formulation, with good case studies! Jan 30, 2003
I have always been impressed by the work of the Kepner-Tregoe team because their methodologies really work.
My first encounter with their work was the mastering - and application - of their Problem Solving & Decision Making (PSDM)strategies in the late 70's/early 80's, while I was a practising engineer. Subsequent fruitful encounters include reading - and assimilating - Tregoe's Vision at Work and Top Management Strategy (both of which are great works) when I was a General Manager.
This book should have been available when I was still working in the corporate world. Anyway, I am very pleased to have bought and perused this wonderful book, which I will now add to my Strategic Thinking and Strategic Leadership bookshelf.
I particularly enjoyed digesting the authors' practical approach to strategy formulation, which has been extensively covered in the book. The attendant case studies - field-tested - have been well selected and the process of working out their integrated model to help readers to understand - and eventually apply - has also been well crafted.
I also like their way of posing pertinent questions to think through some of the process steps.
All practising managers must get hold of this book. In terms of depth and breadth in the strategic thinking process, as well as the clarity in writing and presentation, I would rate this book in the same genre as Michel Robert's strategic thinking books. Across the board, the authors' writing in the book is crisp and succinct, and I really appreciate authors who write this way.