Customer Reviews: Making Strategy: The Journey of Strategic Management
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on December 16, 1999
You might plan, but only action will influence the future! In their strategy JOURNEY, Eden & Ackerman takes this seriously. Therefore they abandon normative strategy-approaches and show us instead the possibility to exploit cognitive diversity, tacit knowledge and emergent strategy. They also stress the importance of negotiating with stakeholders, powerbrokers and personnel to come to decisions, actions and insights that shape the strategic future of an organization. This is not an ideal picture - it's a realistic conclusion from decades of practical work with companies and non-profit organizations trying to create their future in a context of the messy problems of every-day life. Each organization has to find it's own way. The authors give us an inside-view of these experiences and explain in detail the methods and tools used.
Although "Making strategy" has a practical focus on how to make the JOURNEY of strategizing happen and it easily can be used as a consultants handbook, the theoretical foundations are not neglected. Eden & Ackerman make a clear stance that the world that counts in strategizing is the one we percieve, and that decision-making in organizations involves more than one logic. The authors emphazise the process of strategizing and leave the ontological question open - if we learn from our actions, we will also get to know whether or not we were right in our assumptions about the world. Since we cannot forecast the future with enough precision to make long-range action plans in advance, we have to learn while we strategize. Continuously we have to question our assumptions, redraw our plans and consider how new directions influence the social order in which action takes place. These experiences and insights are convincing - and the methods and software tools are immensly useful. If you want to get things done.
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This book is first rate and brings together all of the most important concepts in strategic management. It is written in a three part format of theory, case examples, and practical tools. Thus, the book should appeal to a wide audience: academics, managers, consultants, and practitioners mainly interested in learning new tools and techniques. Topics in each part are uniquely cross-referenced to the other parts, much like hypertext links so one can follow a thread from theory to case studies to tools and vice versa. Thus, the book does not have to be read cover-to-cover from the front; one can start at a point of greatest interest and follow the threads.
The first part describes strategy making as a JOURNEY, both as a metaphor and an acronym for the process (JOintly Understanding, Reflecting and NEgotiating strategY). The center piece for strategy making are the cognitive mapping/oval mapping techniques (invented and pioneered by the authors)so useful for revealing various key managers' mental models of their organization's internal and external environment. Also first rate is the authors' treatment of the politics of strategic planning, stakeholder management, and the role of emergent strategy in an organization; topics not often covered in depth in most stategic planning books, but often key determinants of success or failure. Additionally, there is a chapter on managing alternative futures, which integrates the very powerful scenario planning techniques into the JOURNEY process. The second part illustrates the theory from a case studies point of view and highlights the problems encountered by the authors in putting the theory into practice in various types of organizations. The third part covers how to faciliate and structure the various workshops and offsites, and the use of certain software tools such as Decision Explorer for creating the cognitive maps.
If you have ever embarked on strategic planning and have come up with a set of goals, but somehow just couldn't come up with a cogent strategy or a way to realize these goals (particularly in public and non-profit sector organizations), this book is a must for you. Other superlative books available from Amazon that should be read in conjunction with this one are "Strategic Planning for Public and Non-Profit Organizations" by John Bryson (particularly the revised 1995 edition which touches on cognitive/oval mapping techniques in conjunction with Bryson's Indirect Method of building strategy) and "Scenarios: the Art of Strategic Conversation" by Kees van der Heijden (particularly relevent to managing alternative futures).
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on September 18, 1999
Eden and Ackermann have written a book based upon there experiences of working with management groups in industry. The book is an excellent contribution to our knowledge of 'developing and managing strategy'. The book takes the student through the process of building strategy, putting the student in the centre, enabling the student to build strategy of a company or organisation. This approach is unique and a fine example of how to teach and learn about the subject. The book uses models as a process to develop strategy, i.e cognitive mapping and Decision Explorer. The book is aimed at students that are final year undergraduates or Masters students. When using the book, students need a knowledge base in 'modelling skills'.
On the downside, the book has a complex indexing system which takes a while to 'get the hang of'. The book promotes Eden and Ackermann's approach to developing strategy, which is based upon a 'reasoned thinking' style. There are other approaches.
But taking everything into consideration, this is simply the best book on the market!!!!
I have therefore decided to adopt this book as the main reader for my students at Napier University.
Ian Yeoman Napier University Business School Edinburgh
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on April 26, 1999
I found `Making Strategy' a very useful guide during my Honours Operational Research project. Making Strategy demonstrates the best use for Management Science techniques such as Oval and Cognitive Mapping and Strategy Delivery Support System (SDSS) to name a few. It also provides excellent advice and guidance on more general topics such as running group workshops and interviewing.
Examples are given where techniques and methods have been applied in practice in several different organisations. They highlight the areas where the different tools may be applied.
As it's name suggests `The Journey of Strategic Management' it takes the reader on a `Journey' - through different stages which can occur during strategic development and therefore is a valuable practical guide for any project of this nature.
This book would prove beneficial not only to students but to any academic or practitioner involved in strategic thinking.
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on March 4, 1999
This book is the product of the last twenty or so years of Eden and Ackerman's work in strategic planning. Based on personal and group psychological foundations, the techniques that the authors describe fully in Making Strategy are supported by a unique software environment (Decision Explorer) that can be used with disparate groups struggling with a strategic issue. But much can be done with the authors' approach with groups even without computer support.
This is an important contribution to the practical strategy literature, a kind of "construct paradigm" that describes the theory of the approach, how to do it in practice, and what particular applications have actually looked like. A related book is John M. Bryson's Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations.
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on April 5, 1999
Eden and Ackermann bring together the theory and practice of strategy making from conception to the actualization. They take into account critical issues of power and influence both inside and out of an organization. They demonstrate through detailed examples just how it can be accomplished and how it can be implemented. The book is full of detailed techniques for just about every strategy making need. Whether you are an experienced planner wishing to pick up a few new tools or a beginner wondering what strategy making is all about, this book is for you.
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on April 25, 1999
This book is an absolute gold mine of advice and information on theory,practice and process. It is the most complete book on strategic management that I have ever read and is a must for the academic, the consultant and the hard pressed practioner. To be able to access the level of deal on content, context and process, all cross referenced is of considerable help. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is a 5 star piece of essential kit for those serious in their quest to understand and practise strategic management.
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on August 17, 1999
I had always believed that UK had a few business schools like London, Strathclyde and Cranfield comparable to the top US schools. The quality of this book, by two Strathclyde academics, re-confirms that. It very clearly establishes that "Strategy" is not just the pre-occupation of the board, it is every manager's business. And it shows HOW that business has to be handled. Very useful for consultants like us.
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