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Being Strategic: Plan for Success; Out-think Your Competitors; Stay Ahead of Change Paperback – August 3, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this accessible but overly ambitious debut, top consultant Andersen walks readers through a step-by-step guide to strategic thinking and action. She describes the process of formulating and executing strategy through the historical example of the 800-year-old castle at Criccieth, a massive construction project envisioned and overseen by Welsh nobleman Llewellyn Fawr. Through an imaginary narrative of Llewellyn's conversations with his wife and peers, Andersen culls the process of strategic thinking: clearly defining the challenge and considering the potential obstacles before taking action. While the castle analogy is appealing and helpful, midway through the book Andersen introduces case studies of several imagined companies to illustrate additional points, leaving the reader to wonder what happened to Llewellyn and his castle. Andersen's strong voice and experience in strategy coaching comes through, but she confuses her business reader with personal growth messages. In the end, her valuable lessons are watered down as she attempts too much by extending her deliberate thinking process beyond the business world to Strategy as a Way of Life. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“[Erika Andersen is] to strategy what Suze Orman is to personal finance!” ―Nancy Tellem, Senior Advisor to the CEO, CBS Corporation

“[A] clear, practical and powerful approach for navigating through tough times.” ―Bonnie Hammer, President, NBCU Cable Entertainment and Cable Studios

“Unlike most experts in her field, Erika Andersen has an approach to being strategic that's sensible and accessible. With her, you feel capable of creating the business, career and life you want. She's to strategy what Suze Orman is to personal finance!” ―Nancy Tellem, President, CBS Paramount Television Network Entertainment Group

“Over the past decade, in each of the companies I've led, I've relied on Erika Andersen to help me engage my senior team in getting clear about the future we want to create for our enterprise, and figuring out what it will take for us to get there. Her vision and strategy process helps us get our heads around complex issues in a way that's unusually simple: I'm always surprised, at the end of a session, how we've made our aspirations practical and built a clear path to achieving them.” ―Doug Herzog, President, MTVN Entertainment Group

“My partners and I have turned to Erika Andersen each time our company has reached a new plateau of growth - and generally when we need her expert prodding, analysis, and follow-up to get us over the next organizational hump. When I described our most recent re-structuring plan to a friend - a seasoned and successful financial professional - he was certain we must have hired McKinsey & Co. to help us think things through. Wrong. It was Erika Andersen.” ―Danny Meyer, restaurateur, President, Union Square Hospitality Group

“To most of us, the thought of articulating a long-term strategy that is both visionary and practical seems an overwhelming task. The approach used by Erika Anderson enables a team to effectively articulate ideas, reach consensus, and formulate a detailed course of action for achieving their vision.” ―Kathy Dore, President, CanWest Media Broadcasting

“When I became President of Women in Cable Telecommunications in 2001, I realized the organization needed to re-invent itself. Since that time, we've used the Proteus strategic approach to create a clear, powerful vision of the organization we wanted, and then to continually move toward that vision. WICT is now growing and vital -- and Erika's work with us has been hugely helpful in making that our reality.” ―Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, President WICT and Olympic Gold Medalist


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1 edition (August 3, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031265670X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312656706
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #747,566 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I'm the founding partner of Proteus International, a coaching, consulting and training firm that focuses uniquely on leader readiness ( I coach and advise senior executives at a variety of companies - GE, Conde Nast, NBC Universal, Union Square Hospitality Group, Facebook and Hyatt, among others. I am also the author of Be Bad First - Get Good at Things Fast to Stay Ready for the Future (Bibliomotion, 2016), Leading So People Will Follow (Jossey-Bass, 2012), Being Strategic: Plan for Success; Out-think Your Competitors; Stay Ahead of Change (St. Martin's Press, May 2009), and Growing Great Employees: Turning Ordinary People into Extraordinary Performers (Portfolio, 2006). I blog at and at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
For organizations as well as for individuals, strategies resemble "hammers" and tactics resemble "nails" in that the former are needed to drive the latter. To extend the use of metaphors, it is also important to have the right hammer and the right nail, locate the nail properly, and then hit it with sufficient force. If I understand what Erika Andersen is explaining in this book, this is what "being strategic" is all about when making decisions that concern one's career and personal life. As Yogi Berra is alleged to have said, "You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there." Therefore, it is imperative to envision a desired future because having that clearly in mind will guide and inform the decisions that are made, including non-decisions. (I agree with Michael Porter: "The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.") In this volume, Andersen immediately establishes a personal rapport with her reader with effective use of direct address and sustains it as she responds to "how to" questions such as these:

Formulate a desired future?
Define the challenge(s)?
Identify the barriers?
Craft appropriate strategies?
Select appropriate tactics?
Execute effectively and efficiently?
Measure progress?
Recognize and then make necessary course corrections?
Involve others to obtain their support and assistance?

These are questions that must be addressed by individuals who are dissatisfied with the progress of their career and/or the quality of their personal lives. They are the same questions that must be addressed by those involved in project teams.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Walter H. Bock on June 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Several years ago an organization asked me to evaluate the strategic plan they had spent a lot of time and money creating just three years before. I made the rounds of the key executives.

"Do you use the strategic plan?" I asked. Executive after executive said, "No." A couple asked me which strategic plan I meant. Then I walked into Ed's office and asked my question.

"Oh, sure," said Ed. "I use it every day. It's great"

I was excited. "What's great about it?"

Ed jerked his thumb over his shoulder. "It keeps that door propped open so it won't slam shut when I open the window." He chuckled.

I turned to see the three fat binders that held the plan stacked in front of a door. The scales fell from my eyes.

I had studied business in school. My comprehensive exam was on strategy. Business strategies of that time were modeled on the -vaunted GE Strategic Planning system. And they produced plans like the one that propped open Ed's door.

Those plans had several things in common. The most important was an unspoken belief in the possibility of accurate prediction and the power of precise, detailed planning. They were mostly based on a combination of what businesspeople understood as the military model of strategy, combined with a Growth/Share matrix derived from GE, and something about learning curves.

They planned for a predicted future. Then the plans laid out a detailed response to that future.

Scenario planning was talked about a lot, especially after an article in the Harvard Business Review by Shell's Pierre Wack. But for most of the companies using the term, "scenario planning" amounted to making lots of detailed plans.

Those plans were costly to prepare.
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Format: Hardcover
Let's say I live in Princeton and I need to get to NYC by 3 PM this afternoon in order to attend a meeting. This is my problem. Do I try to thumb a ride as a hitchhiker and hope I get there in time? Do I rent a car and just drive north and follow the road signs (hopefully I'll see some) that say "NYC this way?" Do I catch the train at Princeton Junction and head north to NY's Penn Station? Or do I get a map and find the easiest driving route to take while driving my own car? The point is all these ways will work, but some will work better than others. And one will work the best for me when considering all the alternatives. If I seek out the best solution to my problem, then I will have "strategized" my trip to NYC.

Just about all problems can be solved by strategizing. And when you solve your problems by strategizing, then you are "being strategic." Ah, that brings us to the title of this book. And this book is about solving problems by finding the best solution. It is split into two parts and 15 chapters as follows:

I. Being strategic every day (2-10)
II. Being strategic with a group (11-15)

0. Intro: If I hear the word "strategic" one more time, I'll ...
1. The castle on the hill
2. Defining the challenge: How can we ... ?
3. What is: Pulling back the camera
4. What's the hope: Reasonable aspiration
5. What's in the way: Facing the facts
6. What's the path: Roadway first, then asphalt
7. The art of crafting strategy
8. Tactics that work
9. Building on success
10. The castle of you
11. Inviting others into the process
12. Crafting a strategic vision
13. Athe art of facilitation
14. Strategy as a way of life
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