10 Favorite Books on Business Strategy

‘Your favorite books on Business Strategy are?’

‘Which are your favorite books on Business Strategy; and what is special about them?

This is a question that I have posted on LinkedIn.com. Below are my answers and the answers of some 15 LinkedIn members. This is a comprehensive overview of literature on this topic.

I have started with a new blog: http://www.jeroendemiranda.com

My favorites books on Business Strategy:

Strategy Maps by Robert Kaplan and David Norton.
They show very clearly how to operationalize the mission, vision and strategy of a company. It contains many striking examples. This book also gives you good ideas on how to define an effective Balanced Scorecard.

Executing Strategy by Mark Morgan, Raymond E. Levitt and William Malek (Harvard Business Press).
This excellent book presents the ‘Strategic Execution Framework’. It is a comprehensive and easy to use framework. It shows how to formulate a mission, vision and strategy, and how to translate this into a project portfolio which realizes the strategy. ‘

Favorite books on Business Strategy by LinkedIn users:

Shakti Kapoerchan

Student at RSM Erasmus University

I consider having a solid factual basis for strategy theory to be an excellent starting position for further exploration on the subject. A book which provided this for me, is ‘Contemporary Strategy Analysis’ by Robert M. Grant.

Mark Bouch

Director , Sykes Fairbairn

Hi Jeroen
To answer your question: Mastering the Management System (HBR article by Kaplan and Norton) and Competitive Strategy by Michael Porter.

But strategy execution is also worthy of consideration within question. Getting things done often provides greater challenge than the intellectual exercise of developing strateg. With this in mind I recommend you add ‘Execution – the discipline of getting things done’ by Bossidy and Charan to your reading list.

Best Regards
Mark Bouch

Will Pearce

Non-Profit Executive, Management Consultant, & Volunteer Board Member

Strategic Thinking / Visioning:
* Built to Last by Jim Collins

* Good to Great by Jim Collins
These two Collins books together do the best job of anything I’ve read of identifying the key characteristics of organizations that exhibit sustained competitive superiority.

Strategic Direction (Strategy Formation); both of these books will get you thinking about the specifics of your strategy in new, creative ways:
* What Really Works by William Joyce and Nitin Nohria
* Nonprofit Strategic Positioning: Decide Where to Be, Plan What to Do by Thomas A. McLaughlin

Strategic Planning:
* Team-Based Strategic Planning by C. Davis Fogg
Emphasizes the prerequisite environment/culture, facilitators & facilitation of the process, and process team dynamics.

For nonprofits:
* Strategic Planning for Nonprofit Organizations by Michael Allison and Jude Kaye
* Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations by John M. Bryson

For IT organizations:
* A Practical Guide to Information Systems Strategic Planning by Anita Cassidy

All of these books are available on Amazon.com.

Mick Monroe

I’m here to meet experts that would volunteer to answer questions about their industry. I am an warm+ networker. 550+

Winning by Jack and Suzy Welch – In the first chapter he explains the importance of and way to develop consensus within an organization on the behaviors that must be in place to support the values that will enable an organization to accomplish it’s mission. Within two paragraphs in the first chapter or so it helped me understand how do develop and help others develop a mission statement that was effective at mobilizing organizational support.
One of those ‘airport book store purchases’ that ‘took my breath away’ before the plane ever lifted off.
Thank you Jack and Suzy Welch!

Malcolm Gabriel, MBA; MA (Ind Psy)

Visionary Leader in HR, OD & Change Management


I agree with others’ recommendations on great business strategy books, and I’ve read most of them. But, my personal favourites are the following, based not necessarily on methodologies for business strategies or strategic planning processes; rather on how one thinks about business strategies themselves:

Senge, P.M (1990). The Fifth Discipline. This timeless classic framed my systems-orientation and helped me appreciate causality in the market and industry; and more importantly appreciate that for every business strategy action (and inaction) there is a corresponding reaction (both intended and unintended).

Hamel, G. (2000). Leading the Revolution. This masterpiece argues that the only sustainable competitive advantage today is in an organization’s ability to innovate their business strategies (refered to as “business concept innovation”). It is truely the hardest challenge for competitors to replicate.

Baghai, M., et. al. (1999). The Alchemy of Growth. This one helped me think through business strategies as kickstarting and sustaining growth through time horizons; horizon 1 (typically “cash cow” core businesses), horizon 2 (emerging businesses), and horizon 3 (seeds of tomorrow’s businesses). The invaluable insight in this book is that organizational modelling, as well as talent and performance management should be different for each horizon, rather than a “one size fits all” approach.

Joseph Templin, CFP, CLU, ChFC, CAP

Head Geek, Unique Minds Consulting Group, LLC

The Art of War” by Sun Tzu.
“He who knows his enemy and himself shall always be victorous.
He who knows neither his enemy nor himself shall never taste victory, even if he fight a thousand battles.”

Michel Buffet

Founder and President at ETM Consulting Group

My favorite by far: Adrian Slyvotzky’s The Art of Profitability. This book proposes 23 business lessons – written as a the story of a manager seeking enlightenement from a wise master. An original and thought-provoking book.

AK Adapa

IT: Services & Strategy Consultant

Jeroen – You have given two of the best books on this topic and I like Executing Strategy book the most out of the two.

As one of the comments said, from time to time I come across pretty good HBR articles. The most recent HBR articles “Can you say what your strategy is?” and “Putting leadership back into strategy” are good reads as well.

“Competing for the Future” book by Hamel and Prahlad is a good read.

Mark Taylor

Director, Eriskay Associates

Hi Jeroen,
This is a great question and has attracted some great answers.

I am tempted to say that no book on strategy seems to adequately capture what the subject is really about but this is too harsh on some of the great writers out there.

My own view of Strategy Maps by K&N is pretty similar to yours, although many of my clients find this approach quite prescriptive. A broader and more fluid methodology is
Eden, C., Ackermann, F. (1998), Making Strategy: The Journey of Strategic Management, Sage, London, .
Similar to the K&N approach, it makes comprehensive use of mapping but, in my view, creates a far more realistic and less rigid set of outcomes. I use this a lot with clients and it delivers great results.

See the link below for some case studies.
Good luck with your work Jeroen.


Claudia Gramaccia

Studio Gramaccia

hi Jeroen,
the authors you quote are certainly miliar pillars of the business strategy thought
recently Michael Reynor and Pankaj Ghemawat have published interesting books. Have a look at them on
Cheers Claudia

Links: http://strategos.ning.com/forum/topic/show?id=1625368%3ATopic%3A2401

Ashwin Ramaswamy

Awake Dreamer

There was a simple book I read called “The Tao of Leadership”.
I am yet to come across something as outstandingly brilliant.
It doesn’t cover much on strategy per se, but the principles of leadership enshrined are the necessary & sufficient conditions for success.
I think this is available on the web too

Ron Hurst

Manager, Teacher, Coach

I do not believe I saw The Art of the Long View by Peter Schwartz on the list above. I highly recommend this for its contribution to scenario planning.
Ron Hurst

Marc Jadoul

Market Development at Alcatel-Lucent

“The Art of War” by Sun Tzu and “Clausewitz on Strategy” (edited by Boston Consulting Group’s Strategy Institute)

Stephen Michaelson

Lean Six Sigma Project Leader; Business Process Analyst; Project Writer/ Tech Writer

W. Edward Deming’s _Out of the Crisis_ (1982). Yes, it’s dated, but still very relevant: the work of Deming and Joseph Juran after World War II is largely responsible for the success of leading quality- and customer-centered companies (like Toyota) today.
A concise description of Deming’s recommended business strategy is contained in his “14 Points for Management (…)

Links: http://books.google.com/books?id=4qw8AAAAIAAJ&dq=amazon+deming+%22out+of+th…

Ana Capucho

Account Manager at EMC & Restaurant Owner

Hi Jeroen,

These are my suggestions for you:
Blue Ocean Strategy (Harvard Business Press)

Strategy Safari — A Guide Tour Through The Wilds Of Strategic Management.
Both are a kind of “out of the box” business strategy to set you aside from mainstream or as I like to call it, tradicional management.

Ana Capucho

Steven Miller

Program Director, GTM Initiatives at IBM

I’ve studied quite a few books on strategy, and several authors stand out:
Clayton Christensen – it seems that the initial impact of this book series was a few leaders looking to disrupt for disruptions sake. This book series does a great job of helping the reader understand disruptive innovation and how to lever it.

Adrian Slywotzky – His books are invaluable as many businesses are seeing their legacy business models going by the wayside numerous disruptions rewrite the future: web 2.0, DVRs, open source, new media, online communites, SaaS, skyrocketing fossil fuel prices, … Leaders need to know how to select and evaluate business models to best take advantage of these disruptions.

Geoffrey Moore – I first read Crossing the Chasm while working a startup. I would love to see an update to this excellent series.

Jim Collins – Built to Last was one of the very first strategy books that I read and one that has stuck with me for a long time. Can be an eye opener to compare your current and past employers against the lessons of this book.

Tom DeMarco – the book I have in mind is ‘Peopleware’. A key part of strategy is your human resource strategy. This book’s lessons have guided my career for a long time.

Ram Charam’s books also have a lot to offer, with a focus on HR strategy — Execution, The Leadership Pipeline, …
The books above will help you:

  • Select a disruptive innovation
  • Select a business model
  • Bring the new innovation to market
  • Build a company that can thrive for a long long while
  • Attract and retain talent
  • Build Your Leadership Pipeline

Ram Motipally

Key Account Manager at Sasken Communication Technologies Ltd.

I am sure you have plenty of suggestions on books on Business strategy. The original favorite is always Porter’s strategy. But, I highly recommend Jack Welch’s Winning. It is a practical handbook for any manager including for strategy. Look forward to loads of common sense and very little of theoretical models.


My favorites are:

Strategy Maps by Robert Kaplan and David Norton.

Executing Strategy by Mark Morgan, Raymond E. Levitt and William Malek

More on Business Strategy:

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One Response to 10 Favorite Books on Business Strategy

  1. Jonathan says:

    My top 10 performance management books are listed here: http://alignment.wordpress.com/2007/09/30/top-10-books/

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