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Strategic Learning: How to Be Smarter Than Your Competition and Turn Key Insights into Competitive Advantage Hardcover – March 15, 2010
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In today’s dynamic marketplace, traditional strategic planning methods no longer work. The key challenge facing managers is to build adaptive organizations able to assess the shifting environment and rapidly translate insights into winning strategies over and over again. “Strategy as a planning exercise” must become “strategy as a learning exercise.” Excelling at this capability is an organization’s only sustainable competitive advantage.
Willie Pietersen’s Strategic Learning process gives you a practical and proven method for turning key insights about your market, customers, and competitors into action. Since Pietersen first defined them in Reinventing Strategy, the concepts and tools of Strategic Learning have been battle-tested in the harshest economy in a generation, helping to reinvigorate a wide range of corporations and not-for-profit organizations. The strategic learning process also forms the basis for how strategy is taught in Columbia Business School’s Executive Education programs.
Strategic Learning presents Pietersen’s unique “insight to action” model. Using this cycle of four linked steps—Learn, Focus, Align, and Execute—your organization will continuously learn from its environment and its own actions, adjust its strategies to fit the competitive landscape, and consistently outthink and outperform your competition. You’ll navigate through crises while building the organizational readiness to identify the next challenge, the resilience to withstand it, and the ability to profit from it.
Filled with examples showing real-world applications of its principles, Strategic Learning will redefine how you approach strategy. Coming from one of the best minds in business, this far-reaching set of ideas equips managers at all levels to lead the way to lasting competitive advantage.
From the Back Cover
"Strategic Learning has become a vital element of how we think about the future in Ericsson. The wisdom of Willie Pietersen's approach to strategy has helped us move from planning rituals to strategy as learning, and has made a big difference to the way we work."
—Hans Vestberg, President and CEO, Ericsson
"Strategic Learning is the best method I've ever found for creating winning strategies."
—Michael Mahoney, Company Group Chairman, Johnson & Johnson
"Pietersen's focus on creating highly adaptive and dynamic strategy is essential for our turbulent times. His Strategic Learning process forces companies to confront difficult truths presented by the marketplace and helps them thrive amid uncertainty."
—Jill Spencer, Executive Vice President, Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta
"Strategic Learning and Willie Pietersen have had an amazing impact on the Girl Scouts, helping us create a transformational strategy to bring relevance to a ninety-seven-year-old organization. We are confident that we are now focusing on the few things that are making the biggest difference."
—Kathy Cloninger, Chief Executive Officer, Girl Scouts of the USA
"Willie Pietersen's deep insights about strategy and leadership have helped our commercial and medical leaders understand how we can move from merely doing strategy to excelling at it."
—David Epstein, President and CEO, Novartis Oncology, Novartis Molecular Diagnostics
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
At the heart of Mr. Pietersen's strategic framework are four core activities:
1. Learning (as in assessment)
2. Focus (what needs to be done)
3. Align (right people, process, and metrics)
4. Execute (working the plan)
The above process is just that--an ongoing process that never ends.
There are so many gems in this book, and it's hard to drawn attention to just a few, but let me try:
- The author does a great job at explaining the differences between planning and strategy and how the two connect. Strategy first, planning afterwards according to the author.
- The value/cost gap ... excellent discussion along with examples. GM's value/cost gap is tight compared to Toyota/Honda.
- Others include the Sigmoid Curve, compounding through focus, and so many more. I particularly appreciated the discussion about McDonald's "Plan to Win" strategy. A Google search will give you more details about this process at the Wharton School Publishing website.
Consider reading this book with a pad and pen. There's a lot here so you will reap the most benefits by taking notes along the way. Then, I'd suggest reading a second time to determine the specifics you wish to apply in your organization.
The author states this book stands on its own, but I will still be buying his first book on the same subject.
to execute. It probably takes a few rounds of execution to
get it working smoothly in the organisation.
Pietersen attended Oxford University, where he received a Rhodes Scholarship, and studied law.
After practicing law, Pietersen embarked on an international business career, serving as the CEO
of multibillion-dollar businesses such as Lever Foods, Seagram USA, Tropicana, and Sterling
Winthrop's Consumer Health Group. In 1998 Pietersen became Professor of the Practice of
Management at the Columbia University Business School. He has also served as teacher and
advisor to many global companies, including Boeing, Deloitte, DePuy, Ericsson, ExxonMobil,
Novartis, SAP, and Girl Scouts of the USA.
In Strategic Learning the author gives the reader a practical and proven method for
turning key insights about an individual and/or business market, customers, and competitors into
action. First defined in Pietersen's previous book, Reinventing Strategy, the concepts and tools
of Strategic Learning have been battle-tested in the hardest economy in a generation, helping to
reinvigorate a wide range of corporations and non-profit organizations. In this book, the author
gives the cycle of four linked steps, which are learn, focus, align, and execute, that will help any
organization continuously learn from its environment and its own actions, adjust its strategies to
fit the competitive landscape, and consistently outthink and outperform their competition. In
addition, the strategic learning process also forms the basis for how strategy is taught in
Columbia Business School's Executive Education programs.Read more ›
Review by Chris Filmer
This is Professor Pietersen's second book on this crucial subject. His time-tested Strategic Learning Process is still there, but now enhanced with crisp colorful comment and fresh examples.
The book walks you through- how to gain true insights into your business, focus on the priorities, discover your "Winning Proposition", align the organization to execute superbly and lead it by repeating the cycle so that you never lose your way.
Professor Pietersen writes freely and engagingly, utilizing his lifetime of successful practice and study of international business. He uses the lessons passed on by outstanding thinkers-extracting sage quotations from, among others, Aristotle, Nietzsche, Churchill, Drucker, Porter, Mandela and Buffett to illustrate his points. And it all comes together with a conviction that is tough to dispute.
The reader/student learns by following a crystal clear route map in order to make the right choices. There are eleven chapters (I love the layout) and, as each chapter is completed, it is as if a vivid street sign is illuminated. When the book is finished one can look back on a great "White Way" of wisdom and guidance. The trick for any organization is to fully understand the signs and ensure that no one turns out the lights- ever!
Don't miss the last chapters on Leadership. Willie Pietersen demonstrates his superior grasp of the subject, in a brilliant analysis that all leaders would do well to digest
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Many business books are written by consultants with some interesting theories or insights based on data but Willie has both the experiences and the insights that make this book a... Read morePublished 20 months ago by J. Aceti
I had the privilege to attend learning sessions held by Willie on the subject Strategic Learning and
at the time I could not find time to read his previous book. Read more
As you define your organization's strategy through your winning proposition, this book will guide you through the process by asking the pertinent questions. Read morePublished on March 9, 2013 by Soma Chakrabarti
Never sit still! Wonderful road map (learn, focus, align, execute) for establishing a dynamic organization willing to adapt and change to the environment, customer needs, and... Read morePublished on January 31, 2012 by A. Mikulsky
Wow, this is a fantastic book! Even though I had read the book before, as I sat down to write this review I could not stop reading it again. Read morePublished on September 12, 2011 by HonestReviewer
I've been looking for a book that combines strategy with action, I'm a small business owner and being able to plan and execute a small marketing campaign that is tailored for my... Read morePublished on September 6, 2011 by Adam
This book is one of the best business books I've read in the past 5 years. Yet I almost passed on it when I saw its title. The title does NOT do it justice. Read morePublished on July 30, 2011 by T. Pryor