Catalogue


Strategy Bites Back [electronic resource]: It Is Far More, and Less, Than You Ever Imagined
Mintzberg, Henry Author
imprint
E Rutherford : Prentice Hall PTR April 2005 Old Tappan : Pearson Education [Distributor]
description
304 p. ill 09.280 x 06.250 in.
ISBN
0131857770 (Trade Cloth), 9780131857773
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
E Rutherford : Prentice Hall PTR April 2005 Old Tappan : Pearson Education [Distributor]
isbn
0131857770 (Trade Cloth)
9780131857773
standard identifier
9780131857773
restrictions
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
abstract
Annotation
Strategy Bites Back is the antidote to conventional strategy books -- and conventional strategy formation. Edited by the legendary Henry Mintzberg, it contains contributions from everyone from Gary Hamel to Napoleon Bonaparte, Michael Porter to Hans Christian Andersen: essays, poems, case studies, cartoons, whatever it takes to 'free your mind' and unleash the crucial emotional side of strategy formation. Coverage includes: strategy and brinkmanship, culture, seduction; strategy lessons from your mother, from beehives, chess grandmasters, even the National Zoo. Along the way, Mintzberg and his colleagues take on the sacred cows and entrenched beliefs that keep strategists from recognizing their most powerful options. Strategy Bites Back doesn't just make strategy fun: it helps define strategies that offer huge upsides and real inspiration.
catalogue key
11997885
target audience
Trade Prentice Hall PTR
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Introduction or Preface
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Introduction or Preface
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First Chapter

Strategy can be awfully boring. The consultants can be straighter than we academics, not to mention the planners. Everybody is so serious. If that gets us better strategies, fine. But it often gets us worse ones–standard, generic, uninspiring. Strategy doesn't only have to position but it also has to inspire. So an uninspiring strategy is really no strategy at all.

The most interesting companies we know, often the most successful, are not boring. They have novel, creative, inspiring, sometimes even playful strategies. By taking the whole strategy business less seriously, they end up with more serious results–and have some fun in the bargain.

So this book has a serious intention: to take strategy less seriously and so promote better strategies. Besides, why not have a good time reading a strategy book for a change. Isn't it time for strategy to bite back?

The three of us teamed up earlier to do a serious book on strategy, albeit with a not-so-serious title:Strategy Safari. We played with that title here and there but mostly we set out to order and review the serious literature about strategy. We think we did a good job and recommend that book to you. It was written for your head–now here comes one for your heart. As you may have noticed, heads and hearts go together. So this book fills the gap in a field with so much head.

We organizedStrategy Safariaround ten schools of thought, from planning to positioning, visionary to venturing, etc. We use a similar structure here but with seven views, renamed and lightened up. But that is where these two books part company. For here we don't so much offer straight description as images, impressions, insights. Most bookssayit. If you read the words, they assume yougotit. The trouble is you can just as quicklyloseit. So here we set out, whenever possible, toshowit so that you can see it. Then you'll neverforgetit.

We call this collection bytes because we searched for really interesting excerpts on strategy, as short as we could find, or make, them. We wanted each to have a maximum of three pages. Most, but not all, do. You will find some classic material among these bytes, drawn from key sources, supplemented with stories of strategy in action, often with an unusual twist. But mostly this book contains all kinds of wild and wooly things–poems, quotations, cartoons, . . . whatever we could find on paper that enlightens about strategy. We did not want nutty stuff, at least for its own sake, but eye-opening stuff, which can sometimes appear nutty. Bear in mind that many of the great strategies of this world initially appeared nutty, too.

We also call some of these readings bites because we have felt no obligation to always be polite about all this. We did not look for criticism for its own sake, but neither have we shied away from critical material that provides insight. Entrenched beliefs that have outlived their usefulness sometimes have to be challenged by a good push. And strategy certainly is a field full of such beliefs. One of our beliefs, in contrast, is that there are no prophets in this field. There are certainly people worth paying attention to, and we give many of them space in this book, but none is a prophet because all views are vulnerable. Only when you, as a reader, put them together–see them in juxtaposition and combine them in application–do they come usefully alive. As Gary Hamel put it, starkly, "The dirty little secret of the strategy industry is that it doesn't have any theory of strategy creation." Strategy has to come out of a creative process conducted by thoughtful people. Profits and prophets don't mix well in strategy.

We summarize below the various views that make up the main chapters of this book, sandwiched between a first one to get you going, on that word "strategy," and a last one to ease you back into the real world of shareholder value and other easy answers.

SWOTed by Strategy

We begin with the most established view of strategy, epitomized by the conductor up on the podium–a favored metaphor, in fact. Here, the chief pronounces strategy from on high so that everyone else can scurry around "implementing" it.

Key to this view is achieving a fit between internal Strengths and Weaknesses and external Opportunities and Threats–hence the SWOT model. It has much to recommend it, as you will see in some of the bytes, and lots to be critical about, too, as you will see in the bites. After all, the conductor has rehearsals, too, and they do not always go quite so smoothly as the concert. Besides, who is the real strategist–the conductor or the composer?

Strategy Carefully

Open your newspaper and turn to the horoscope. (Maybe you do already but don't tell anybody.) There your future is neatly laid out for you. This second view of strategy is curiously similar. It proceeds on the basis that the future can be laid out for organizations. It's calledstrategic planningand has been all the rage among American corporations and communist governments; they both like to control things. Of course, strategic planning is surrounded by all sorts of fancy paraphernalia: checklists, techniques, systems galore. But when you think about it, so too is astrology. (One of the bites lets you so think about it.)

OK, enough of the bite. Strategic planning is a serious business. The readings suggest why. They also suggest that strategic planning does not create strategies so much as plan out the consequences of strategies already created. That, too, is a serious business.

Figuring Strategy

Here the strategist metamorphoses one step further, from the chief of SWOT and the planner of planning to the analyst of positioning.

Michael Porter of the Harvard Business School gave this view its great impetus, following on some earlier work by consulting firms, itself preceded by two millennia of theorizing about military strategy.

Here strategy reduces to generic position selected through systematic analysis: under condition x, you had better do y. So the job of the strategist is not to create new strategies so much as select the best of proven ones. Consultants and academics love this because it allows them to sink their teeth into some good "hard data" and promote their "scientific" truths. But has it been good for companies? Read on.

A Vision of Strategy

Moses came down from the mountain with "the word" on the tablets, only to discover everyone else worshiping the Golden Calf. Visionaries have had similar problems ever since. The great leaders appear with their great messages while the rest of us want to get on with our narrow prejudices.

The visionary–in business often the entrepreneur, but sometimes also niche players and turnaround artists in established organizations–sees beyond the designs, plans, and positions of the earlier views, to strategy as perspective–a unique worldview. As a consequence, out goes systematic planning and careful figuring and in comes inspiration, insight, and intuition in the leader's head.

Conventional consultants, planners, and academics are not amused: It leaves them little room to maneuver. And that, in turn, gave us great room to maneuver. The stories of the visionaries are wonderful; what a rich choice we had! But be careful; great stories can be dangerous ones, sometimes a little too enticing.

Inside the Strategist's Head

Wouldn't it be nice to know what goes on inside the head of someone making strategy? Some researchers–mostly cognitive, psychologists so-called–worry about that. Think of the tantalizing questions: How does the brain come up with a new idea? How do we process information? How do we put these together into strategies? Indeed, what form does strategy take in the brain: a model? a frame? a map? Unfortunately, the researchers have not gotten very far yet–these processes remain mysterious–but far enough to provide us with some interesting ideas.

Most of these are about pathologies. There is no shortage of distortion in our cognitive processes, and there is no shortage of academic researchers who take great glee in exposing it: how we misread information, get carried away with our own actions, and so on.

But our human brains do some rather remarkable things too, like putting together extraordinary creative and integrated strategies (think of the whole system of an IKEA); happily, other researchers in the field recognize this. They see strategies as creative interpretations invented in the mind. To them, "environment" is not something given, to be analyzed out there, but something invented, to be constructed in here. So in Chapter 6, we juxtapose these two very different perspectives on strategic thinking.

Strategy a Step at a Time

Mao Tse Tung said that a long journey begins with a single step. Strategy can seem like Mission Impossible: things are so complicated, so interconnected; where do you begin? The answer here: with a single step. Do something, anything. Venture! As you proceed, you will learn, and as you learn, you will build. Great strategies grow out of little initiatives.

The implications are profound, not the least being that anyone can be a strategist. After all, anyone can take that first step; that is, have the initial idea. Who knows where the great strategy shall begin. So here too, you can imagine the fun we had picking the bytes and bites. The one-step-at-a-time approach opens strategy up to a whole world of learning.

Is this, then, the "word?" No, not any more than any of the other views. But it is certainly part of the words worth reading.

Strategy with the Gloves Off and the Halo On

Next, we turn to a kind of yin and yang of strategy: its dark side of politics–or is it the realistic side? –and its light side of culture–or is that heavy?

Power and politics certainly convey another slice of reality; strategy can be a nasty business. Competitors are out to crush you and not always in polite economic ways. They can deceive and backstab, too. But then again, you too are a competitor, not always merely responding to what they do to you. And then there are your colleagues in your own organization, who can be doing the same sort of thing, while you are all supposed to be creating common strategy. Aren't we all supposed to be in this together, developing our strategies for the common good? Why, then, doesn't everyone else listen to me?

So we have two views of strategy as power and politicking. In one, people within the organization push each other around so that if strategies appear at all, it is through the give and take of bargaining, jockeying, infighting, and all the rest. In the other, the whole organization pushes its weight around in the world, maneuvering itself into strategies that are often less economic than political.

Now, hold power up to a mirror and the reverse image you see is culture. Where one focuses on self-interest and fragmentation, the other reflects common interest and integration–strategy as a social process rooted in culture.

Culture became a big issue in the West after Japanese management was recognized in the 1980s. It became clear that strategic advantage also lay in difficult-to-imitate factors deeply rooted in the history and traditions of an organization. Like a fine tapestry, this view encourages an organization to weave its various beliefs and activities into a tight and unique strategy. But like a tapestry, that makes it difficult to take the strategy apart. If one part–one strand, one color, one product line–no longer works, you might have to throw the whole thing away and start over.

Japan may be having economic difficulties today, but the message of strategy rooted in culture remains as germane as it was in the 1980s. (Just ask people in the automobile business about the success of Toyota, a company that remains deeply rooted in the Japanese style of managing.) So the message of culture is ignored at your peril–and in this world of "shareholder value," it is being ignored a great deal. We put this as the last of our views because we believe it is time to bring it back to life.

So here you have it; seven views on a fascinating process. Will Rogers, the great American wit, once said. "I never met a man I did not like." We bet he did. But his point was that there is something likeable in everyone. So, too, there is something useful in each of these views on strategy–even, we are prepared to say with a little trepidation, some fun in each. So off we go.

This book is not particularly linear, so please do not feel obligated to read everything, or even, if you prefer, anything in any particular order. Do what suits you. Just enjoy it.

We have prepared some useful tools to help make your strategy sessions more incisive and to give your strategy more bite. You can find them at:www.pearson-books.com/StrategyBitesBack/.

F. Scott Fitzgerald reportedly said, "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function." Here we offer you seven. Keep functioning! Have fun!

A final note to you, the reader.We are thinking of two sequels:Management Bites BackandOrganizations Bite Back. So please send us the little gems, the bits and bytes and bites that you have come across. (You can send them to Bruce atbahlstrand@trentu.ca.)


Reviews
Review Quotes
"Having previously readStrategy Safariby the same authos and enjoyed it for its clarity and common sense, I was keen to delve into this - their latest offering... The bytes are... short and punchy... Many are very funny, but all are thought provoking in their own way... it provides some insightful reflectons on the component parts of business strategy... a readable book that also made me laugh." --March Human Resources Magazine (circ: 28,538) - written by Kathy Osborne:
"Having previously read Strategy Safari by the same authos and enjoyed it for its clarity and common sense, I was keen to delve into this - their latest offering... the bytes are... short and punchy... Many are very funny, but all are thought provoking in their own way... it provides some insightful reflectons on the component parts of business strategy... a readable book that also made me laugh." --March Human Resources Magazine (circ: 28,538) - written by Kathy Osborne: "A fun, wide ranging collection of perspectives on strategy ... This book would be good for any manager seeking fresh perspectives on strategy and wishing to break out of the 'same old, same old' way of thinking". the Value Partnership
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Summaries
Back Cover Copy
Strategy Bites Back is the antidote to conventional strategy books -- and conventional strategy formation. Edited by the legendary Henry Mintzberg, it contains contributions from everyone from Gary Hamel to Napoleon Bonaparte, Michael Porter to Hans Christian Andersen: essays, poems, case studies, cartoons, whatever it takes to 'free your mind'and unleash the crucial emotional side of strategy formation. Coverage includes: strategy and brinkmanship, culture, seduction; strategy lessons from your mother, from beehives, chess grandmasters, even the National Zoo. Along the way, Mintzberg and his colleagues take on the sacred cows and entrenched beliefs that keep strategists from recognizing their most powerful options. Strategy Bites Back doesn't just make strategy fun: it helps define strategies that offer huge upsides and real inspiration.
Back Cover Copy
"This is a naughty book, a really cheeky little brat of a book which ought to be spanked soundly and sent to bed without any supper. Except that, if you did that, you would be missing out on a delightful, entertaining smorgasbord of advice, insights, red herrings, and jokes that together make up a classic text for business leaders." -Stefan Stern, Business Voice OK, strategy is crucial. We know that. Everyone knows that. But why must it be so deadly serious? So plodding, uncreative, boring? Dull strategy books promote dull strategists who create dull strategies that fail. Now there's an antidote:Strategy Bites Back. It's full of insight and daring, from Gary Hamel to Napoleon Bonaparte, Michael Porter to Hans Christian Andersen, all tied together by the triumvirate that is Henry Mintzberg, Bruce Ahlstrand, and Joe Lampel. Essays, poems, case studies, cartoons...whatever it takes to free your mind and unleash the crucial emotional side of strategy formation. This is the whole squiggly shebang: strategy and gamesmanship, black dresses, and seduction...strategy lessons from your mother, from beehives, chess grandmasters, even the National Zoo. Mintzberg, Ahlstrand, and Lampel take on every sacred cow and entrenched belief that keeps you from recognizing your most powerful options-and acting on them. Fun? Heck, yeah. But it'll help you define inspired strategies that offer huge upsides...and what could be more fun than that? copy; Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.
Table of Contents
Introduction
What's in a Word
Introduction
What's in a Buzzword?
"Eenie, Meenie, Minie, Mo..."
What Is Strategy?
Five Ps for Strategy
Beware of Strategy
Are Strategies Real Things?
Swoted by Strategy
Introduction
The Other Tower of Babel
Strategy as a "Little Black Dress"
The CEO as Strategist
The Manager as Orchestra
The Tortoise and the Hare: A Fable for Senior Executives
Jack's Turn
Strategy Carefully
Introduction
The Revolution in Strategic Planning
Jack Welch on Planning
The Seven Deadly Sins of Planning
Planning in Case
Forecasting: Whoops!
Plans in Case You Are Stuck
The Creaetion
How to Plan a Strategy
Speech at the Second Plenary Session of the Eighth Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (November 15, 1956)
Planning and Flexibility
Management and Magic
Figuring Strategy
Introduction
Launching Strategy
Positioning the Derriere: Tooilet Nirvana
The Soft Underbelly of Hard Data
The Glory of Numbers
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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