What book helps you think strategically

Top Best Strategy Books – No matter what profession you are in, you need a strategy to go from A to B.

Let’s say you are a finance professional and you embarked on your journey as a financial analyst. Now you have become a senior analyst in your company. And this has been the case for the last 2 years. You want to grow in your career, but don’t know what to do.

Here’s what you should do.

The short answer is – “be strategic”.

The long answer – “read the following books on strategy that we are recommending and see how you can take the mental leap from point A to point B.”

In this article, we will help you find the bridge by recommending the top 10 best strategy books. The strategy will help you tremendously, even if you have nothing to do with business development. If you want to develop YOU Inc. (which we all want to do), then you must pick up these books and read them through.

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Let’s have a look at them and see which one resonates with you more.

#1 – The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist’s Guide to Success in Business and Life

by Avinash K. Dixit and Barry J.J. Nalebuff

This top book on strategy illustrates how you can change your life by using game theory. It is not only applicable in your life; it is equally effective for your career progression. Have a look at the reviews and best takeaways.

Strategy Book Review:

  • The best part of this top strategy book is the culmination of ample examples. If you manage to read only 50 pages tops, you will get incredible value out of it. The book primarily revolves around decision-making ability which is the basis of game theory. The most conspicuous feature of this book is its elaboration of game theory in relation to strategy.
  • If your profession demands interaction with people all day long, this book would be invaluable to you.
  • If you think, you are just starting out with strategy and you have little or no idea about what strategy is and how it works, this is the first book you should pick up.

Key takeaways from this Top Strategy Book

  • If you want to read a textbook, designed and updated in a completely different package, this is for you. You will be able to relate to a lot of examples and would be able to use most of the tactics in your life and business.
  • It is the primer on critical strategic thinking. If you want to outwork, outlearn, outsmart your competition, pick this best strategy book up.
  • One of the most significant things of this book is it not only dictates what you need to do; rather it also tells you how to think about your opponent. For example, it has mentioned that your opponent will take advantage of you if they know your move ahead of time. So you need to keep a sense of randomness always while acting strategically.
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#2 – Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters

by Richard Rumelt

Even strategy is dichotomous. It has a good element that works and a bad element that fail to yield any measurable result. That’s why you must read this book so that you know what’s gold and what’s dross!

Strategy Book Review:

  • Rumelt’s work clearly signifies the difference between good strategy and bad strategy. He has given a framework for implementing a good strategy and mentions that most companies don’t have a strategy in place; they forget about the good or bad strategy. You will learn how you can create and build a company with a good strategy with references like Apple, Ford, IBM and many more.
  • If you pick up this best strategy book, you would understand that the chief task of a leader is to strategize. And the way she should do it is by stripping away all the excesses like financial goals, slogans, and buzzwords, and concentrate only on how the organization will move forward.

Key takeaways from this Best Strategy Book

  • The best part is the simple three-step framework of good strategy – first step is diagnosis where you would get clarity about the challenges your company is currently facing; second step is your approach to overcoming the hindrances; and finally, the last step is having a shared vision and taking action steps together to implement the same.
  • Many strategy books come down from a perspective of theoretical ideas. But this best book on strategy concentrates on practical wisdom and how you can apply the ideas directly into your business. At the same time, this book doesn’t tell you exactly what to do; you need to think through and apply the same into your business as you see fit.
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#3 – Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works

by A. G. Lafley & Roger L. Martin

The strategy is simple, but not easy. Because strategy propels people and organizations to make difficult choices when they can make the easier ones! You will learn to make better and difficult choices if you read this best strategy book.

Strategy Book Review:

  • This best book on strategy will teach you that all strategy is risky, but having no strategy for your business is far riskier. In this book, you will learn the exact strategies the authors used to catapult P&G to incredible profits and increased market value by $100 billion in just ten years. If you are a business manager, it’s a must-read for you.
  • You should pick up this best strategy book for a reason, it should be to avoid five troubles –defining strategy as vision, thinking strategy as a plan, denial of doing long-term / mid-term strategy, perceiving strategy as optimization of status-quo & thinking strategy as following best practices.

Key takeaways from this Top Strategy Book

  • This best strategy book is very short compared to other strategy books. It is only 272 pages long and it has all the information required to win big in business.
  • The best part of this book is its the five-question framework –
  • What is our winning aspiration?
  • Where will we play?
  • How will we win?
  • What capabilities must we have to win?
  • What are the management systems we require to support our choices?

If a company answer this five-question framework well, eventually it will gradually dominate the market as P&G did using the same methodology.

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#4 – Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors

by Michael E. Porter

This is the most popular top book strategy. Albeit it is very complex and hard to read, it is well worth the effort.

Strategy Book Review:

  • If you are a student of business (MBA), then this top strategy book by Michael Porter is a must-read. This is the first book on a strategy that revolutionized the way companies looked at competition and their own core competency. If you want to start off with any book that will transmute your business from “merely existing” to “booming”, this is the book you must pick up first.
  • This top strategy book has changed the course of strategic management in the eyes of students and practitioners. This best book on business strategy consists of three parts – general analytic techniques, generic industry environments, & strategic decisions. You will also be able to read through two appendices, e.g. portfolio techniques in competitor analysis & how to conduct an industry analysis other than the main sections. That means, once you pick this book up, it’s a complete book on strategy.

Key takeaways from this Best Strategy Book

  • The best takeaway from this book is, of course, Porter’s Five Forces Model –
  • Threats of Entrants
  • Bargaining power of sellers
  • Bargaining power of buyers
  • Rivalry among competitors
  • The pressure of substitute products
  • This best book on business strategy first introduces the concept of competitive advantage and how it can help an organization succeed.
  • Even if it’s written back in 1980, it’s still relevant in the present market scenario. The examples Porter has given are incredible. For example, in the 1970s HP faced competition with electronic calculators; now the same competition is prevalent, only the elements of the competition have changed.
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#5 – Business Strategy: A guide to effective decision-making (Economist Books)

by Jeremy Kourdi

Today what you do in your business determines what you would face in the near future – success or failure. It turns out that better is your decision making, better would be your chances of success.

Strategy Book Review:

  • This best book about strategy is written for beginners who would like to understand strategy at a basic level. If you are a novice in business, this is the best strategy book to start off with. It discusses the fundamentals of business and covers almost all aspects that you need to know about the business.
  • If you have read a lot of books on strategy, this book will stir your thinking. From aligning your vision, forecasting, resource allocation to implementation and flawless execution – you will learn all the fundamentals in this book.

Key takeaways from this Top Strategy Book

  • It simply starts with where you are, where you want to be and how to get there. This is the basic fundamental which most businesses ignore.
  • As per the author, the good strategy stands on the sole ground of its effectiveness and the effectiveness of a strategy depends on the gap between implementation and the strategy. The lesser the gap, the better the chances of organizational success.
  • One of the best parts of this best book about strategy is an emphasis on managers also in the organization. Usually, the strategy is believed to be a leader’s task. But you will learn here, that as a manager, you are always responsible for how the strategy is being implemented.
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#6 – The Strategy Book: How to Think and Act Strategically to Deliver Outstanding Results

by Max Mckeown

This best book on corporate strategy is not only useful for business owners, but people from all walks of life can read and enjoy the insights shared in this book.

Strategy Book Review:

  • This best strategy book is written keeping the average reader in mind. The chapters are short and the explanations are apt. Without using any management mumbo jumbo, this book exceeds the expectation of any business owner who would like to learn the most pressing questions about their business e.g. how to go global, how to win strategy games, how to grow my business again and again and so on and so forth.
  • This is a book that you would not read once. You will keep on going back to the book for referencing and understanding the concepts once again.

Key takeaways from this Best Strategy Book

  • You can bet on this best strategy book if you are thinking of going to the next level in your business or career. This strategy book is full of useful examples and it contains insights from many global leaders who have made big in their business and life.
  • If you know nothing about strategy, this 272 pages book will help you start off your journey in the practical approach of strategy.
  • This top strategy book has given a clear outline between managers and leaders. If as a manager you think strategically, you are already a leader. A manager can’t become a leader without strategic thinking, opined by the author. It’s true and if you don’t think you can’t make any decision making because you don’t have the position, authority or thinking muscle, it’s difficult for you to represent yourself as a leader.
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#7 – Your Strategy Needs a Strategy: How to Choose and Execute the Right Approach

by Martin Reeves, Knut Haanaes and Janmejaya Sinha

If you are diving through an insane amount of complex questions and trying to find the right approach to execute your strategy, this book would help you immensely. Grab this and you will have a blueprint for your strategy execution.

Strategy Book Review:

  • If you don’t read any classic book on strategy, this best book on strategy will save you time, effort and cost. Pick this book up and you will learn everything about a strategy that is prevalent in the market. Each page of this book is worth more than you pay for the entire book. According to the strategists of the 21st Century, this book is un-put-down-able.
  • According to the readers, this book comes at the beginning of the topper list. If you have read Porter’s book on strategy, you will love this top strategy book. Many readers have also mentioned that this book can be a perfect start for anyone who is just beginning their journey in strategy.

Key takeaways from this Top Strategy Book

  • This book is the step by step approach of the remarks offered by Management guru Peter F. Ducker – “There is nothing as useless as efficiently doing something that shouldn’t be done at all”. Most importantly this book isn’t only for marketing managers or business strategists; if you are a Human Resource professional, it would be invaluable to you in terms of insights, execution procedures and managing people.
  • In this age of faster pace and cut-throat competition, business owners need more than a toolkit. They need a hardware store from where they can pick and choose the right tools as per the situations. This book will provide almost every possible tool for a strategy that any business owner can get their hands on.
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#8 – Strategy That Works: How Winning Companies Close the Strategy-to-Execution Gap

by Paul Leinwand & Cesare R. Mainardi

This best book about business strategy is different in its approach and scope. This book can be called a bridge between strategy and execution. That means you will learn how to do gap analysis and act on the insights you get.

Strategy Book Review:

  • The book emphasizes the need to focus on an identity that pierces the noise and can ensure growth as a result instead of doing the other way round. Once your specific identity is set up, you can then translate the same strategic approach into your day to day structure.
  • This book will help you understand the “knowing-doing gap”. In strategy, the same gap translates into the gap between “strategy” and “execution”. The reason most of the organizations suffer from this gap issue is they concentrate too much on thinking and very less on execution and feedback loops. If you read the book, you would understand where the flaws are and how to fix them.

Key takeaways from this Best Strategy Book

  • There are 5 broad things you will learn from this book –
  • Creating and committing to an identity
  • Translate the same identity into a strategic approach
  • Take charge of your culture and put it to work
  • Reduce costs to strengthen your bottom-line
  • Shape your future
  • In this best strategy book, the best part is the authors talk about unconventional ways through which you can make your strategy work. You will learn why conventional strategy only increases the gap between strategy and execution.
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#9 – Strategy Maps: Converting Intangible Assets into Tangible Outcomes

by Robert S. Kaplan & David P. Norton

This duo has previously introduced the revolutionary concept called “Balanced Scorecard”. This is their book on “Strategy Maps” which will help businesses around the globe to find a link between intangible assets and outcomes.

Strategy Book Review:

  • After reading this best book on strategy, you will learn that only 5% of the workforces understand the company’s strategy, 25% managers have incentives linked to strategy, 60% don’t link their budgets to strategy and 85% of executives discuss strategy less than one hour per month. This data is staggering for an organization when they want to align their objectives and well-being with their strategy. Reading this book will help you learn how to centralize your strategy within your organization.
  • This top book on strategy is a magnification of an HBR article written by Kaplan and Norton. In that article, they have first introduced their theme of the balanced scorecard. On the basis of a balanced scorecard, they have published three consecutive books. This book is one of them. Even though it has received criticism from some of the readers, this book looks at strategy completely from a different angle. But we recommend that you first read the book “The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action” before reading this book.

Key takeaways from this Top Strategy Book

This top strategy book has a five-step framework which is the best takeaway –

  • Take the strategy to the level of operations
  • Align the organization to the strategy
  • Help everyone to adapt to the organizational strategy
  • The strategy should be a continuous process
  • Accelerate/Mobilize change via executive leadership

This best strategy book has introduced a new concept “strategy map” which talks about a document. This document consists of primary strategic goals being pursued by the organization. This is kind of new as very rarely anyone talks about the relationship between drivers and desired outcomes before.

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#10 – Blue Ocean Strategy, Expanded Edition: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant

by W Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne

Strategy Book Review:

  • This is a ground-breaking strategy book that has been sold 3.5 million copies worldwide. Many thought-leaders and business giants read, assessed and applied the step by step process given in this book. It’s an un-miss-able book if you are a student of strategy.
  • This top strategy book is based on value innovation. This concept will help the client find a value which is different as well as low cost. If you are new to strategy, you should read a basic book first before coming to this book. Blue Ocean Strategy usually talks about creating a blue ocean for your business and creating barriers for other businesses to imitate.

Key takeaways from this Best Strategy Book

There are four things you would learn specifically –

  • Alignment barriers: Creating barriers in the value proposition, people and profit
  • Cognitive & Organizational barriers: Where your value innovation conflicts with the conventional logic of competitor
  • Brand barriers: Where your value innovation conflicts with the brand image of a competitor
  • Economic & Legal barriers: Creating a patent and volume advantage

You can’t make it big by being a small fish in a big pond. All you need to do is to be a big fish is a small pond. By using the blue ocean strategy, you can become a big fish in a small pond (think niche).

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Filed Under: Business Books, Top Books