cover image Making Great Strategy: Arguing for Organizational Advantage

Making Great Strategy: Arguing for Organizational Advantage

Jesper B. Sørensen and Glenn R. Carroll. Columbia Business School, $29.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-23119-948-3

Sørensen and Carroll, faculty members at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, delve into the “difficult nature of strategic decision making” in this fresh guide to a much-discussed topic. Business strategy is so difficult, they assert, because it involves major and often irreversible decisions that will shape an uncertain future. They posit that executives often “describe trends, articulate grand goals, and make nice diagrams with pithy sayings” when they should instead be developing goals and articulating how those goals will be achieved. The authors offer a system of three core activities to put strategic argument into practice: “iterative visualization,” which focuses on visually mapping and planning effective arguments for organization; “logical formalization,” on translating that plan into a course of action; and “constructive engagement and debate with others.” Numerous examples are offered, including Anheuser-Busch’s marketing failures in the craft beer sector and Tableau’s challenges marketing a free version of its business software, as well as takes on notable entrepreneurs such as Netscape founder Jim Clark (as an example of the importance of visualization) and Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines, who exemplified the notion of creating value. Current and future executives will want to take note of these insightful strategies for navigating high-stakes business terrain. (Jan.)