Books: Customized Strategy

Business Operations Associations Now July/August 2015 By: Kristin Clarke, CAE

Three books look at taking a tailored approach to business goals, how to go about crowdsourcing things both big and small, and a new model for knowledge sharing and skills development.

Your Strategy Needs a Strategy: How to Choose and Execute the Right Approach

By Martin Reeves, Knut Haanaes, and Janmejaya Sinha

Let's be honest: Business strategy books are often either badly written or so narrowly focused that practically no other organization can repeat the described success with the same results.

Your Strategy Needs a Strategy: How to Choose and Execute the Right Approach is an exception to the norm.

"Strategy is, in essence, problem solving, and the best approach depends upon the specific problem at hand," write Martin Reeves, Knut Haanaes, and Janmejaya Sinha. "You need to assess the environment and then match and apply the appropriate approach."

That entails a courageous stepping back from the typical broad-brush strategy applied organization-wide in favor of adopting a variety of approaches customized to each business goal. Through case studies, interviews, and research, the authors—senior partners at Boston Consulting Group—paint a clear, compelling picture of why such a "strategy palette" offers greater adaptability and efficiency in an era of rapid change.

The palette includes five strategic archetypes—classical (be big), adaptive (be fast), visionary (be first), shaping (be the orchestrator), and renewal (be viable)—then layers details of when and how best to apply each.

Among the book's helpful tools are "tips and traps" lists for each strategy, a self-assessment appendix, evaluative chapter sidebars, and charts that visually communicate how various business environments and strategic approaches align.

Bonus: Have a go at the lemonade stand game in the companion iPad app, in which you "try on" various strategic approaches.

[Harvard Business Review Press; 272 pages; $32]

Mindsharing: The Art of Crowdsourcing Everything

By Lior Zoref

Lior Zoref spent 14 years rising in the ranks of Microsoft before giving it up to chronicle and teach what he terms "mindsharing." A type of strategic, next-level crowdsourcing, mindsharing occurs when we don't "ask people to think for us but instead to think with us" about everything from turning life dreams into reality to designing cool business cards.

But mindsharing takes management, as Zoref admits. You need a crowd of 250-plus people for the best answer to emerge. You must be authentic and "create value for the crowd" by giving back constantly. And you must especially "be unforgettable" by "reminding your crowd who you are and what you stand for." The payoff: better decisions and guidance, Zoref says.

[Portfolio; 272 pages; $26.95]

Learning to Succeed: Rethinking Corporate Education in a World of Unrelenting Change

By Jason Wingard

In this urgent appeal to accelerate workplace knowledge-sharing and skills development and to create "genuine" learning organizations, Goldman Sachs Chief Learning Officer Jason Wingard, Ph.D., advocates for wider adoption of a professional development model called "Continuous Integration of Learning and Strategy."

Wingard lauds the CILS process, with its quantifiably high "returns on learning," for tightening the relationship between learning and strategy, grounding it in a three-pillar approach of thought leadership, development programs, and advisory services.

The model is preferably executed by a chief learning officer, since it requires careful vertical integration and removal of learning barriers. Ignore the "corporate" references; the insights of this former vice dean of executive education at University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School apply to any business.

[AMACOM Books; 240 pages; $29.95]

Kristin Clarke, CAE

Kristin Clarke, CAE, is a contributor and books editor for Associations Now.