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The Lords of Strategy

The Secret Intellectual History of the New Corporate World

Walter Kiechel III

Publisher: Harvard Business School, 2010 , 347 pages

ISBN: 978-1-59139-782-3

Keywords: Strategy


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The untold story of the mavericks who conceived the strategy revolution and changed the world.

Imagine running a business without a strategy. It would be akin to driving blindfolded, to building a house without a blueprint. Yet just fifty years ago business "plans" were mere extrapolations of the status quo, heedless of the forces that determine the fate of today's organizations: competitive threats, customer needs and business costs. The concept of strategy changed all that, paving the way for the creation of the modern corporate world.

In The Lords of Strategy veteran journalist and editor Walter Kiechel recounts the birth and evolution of strategy — arguably the most influential business paradigm of the past half century — and the trials and triumphs of the surprising disruptors who invented it. Principal among them were four men — Bruce Henderson, founder of the Boston Consulting Group; Bill Bain, creator of Bain & Company; Fred Gluck, longtime managing director of McKinsey & Company; and Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter — each obsessed with pinpointing how companies achieve competitive advantage over others.

This insider account reveals how the world's most influential consulting firms came into being, and upends conventional notions of consultants to reveal the industry’s pioneers as "idea junkies": a new breed of intellectuals who wielded concepts as weapons for fighting business battles. Their relentless efforts to plumb the depths of competition exploded much of the prevailing wisdom, galvanized executives into action, and forced companies to understand themselves as never before.

What unfolds is the story behind the story of what's happening in today's economy: why companies believe they must ceaselessly cut costs; why innovation has become crucial to survival; why going private and going offshore have become increasingly tempting alternatives; what role strategy played in the economic crisis and how it will help shape the future of business.

An important book by one of management's keenest observers, The Lords of Strategy provides readers with a deeper understanding of the world they compete in, and a sharper eye for what works — and what doesn't — when forging strategy.

Table of Contents:

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  • Preface: Three Common Beliefs to Be Discarded
  1. Strategy as a Case to Be Cracked
  2. Bruce Henderson Defines the Subject
  3. The Experience Curve Delivers a Shock
  4. Loading the Matrix
  5. What Bill Bain Wanted
  6. Waking Up McKinsey
  7. Michael Porter Encounters the Surreal
  8. The Human Stain
  9. The Paradigm That Failed?
  10. Struggling to Make Something Actually Happen
  11. Breaking the World into Finer Pieces
  12. The Wizards of Finance Disclose Strategy's True Purpose
  13. How Competencies Came to Be Core
  14. The Revolution Conquers the Wold
  15. Three Versions of Strategy as People
  16. And Where Was Strategy When the Global Financial System Collapsed?


The Lords of Strategy

by Roland Buresund last modified 2011-06-11 14:31

Rating: ********** (Excellent)

This is something as odd as a book that you should read after you have finished your MBA! It is an excellent history of the both the concept of Strategy and the Management Consulting profession, while at the same time making all the different theories and models tie into each other and start to make collective sense.

You need to understand Management Consulting and Strategy before trying to read this, but the result will be breathtaking. Highly recommended!

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