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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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (March 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470540699
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470540695
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,359 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

The Way You Do Strategy Can Make Your Organization Smarter Than Your Competition!

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

Praise for Strategic Learning

"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


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Customer Reviews

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This book is one of the best business books I've read in the past 5 years.
T. Pryor
STRATEGIC LEARNING One of the great things about the book Strategic Learning is that it is filled with examples showing real-world applications of its principles.
Terry Braziel
As you define your organization's strategy through your winning proposition, this book will guide you through the process by asking the pertinent questions.
Soma Chakrabarti

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mark on July 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I like reading books on strategy and this one stands out because the author's framework, based on years of experience, is pratical and easy to follow.

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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Newman on July 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Willie Pietersen has written a book that is big in ambition and scope and small in number of pages. I work in the field of Executive Development and have had the pleasure of meeting many professors of strategy and leadership at leading universities, worldwide. No one matches Willie's passion and expertise for getting across the essential job of the leader, namely, to lead strategically and do that by developing strategies that galvanize all employees to align behind those vital few things that make the biggest difference. You can read ten different books about strategy but you will be better off reading Willie's book ten times since the challenge he presents is one of putting his ideas into practice and then leading in such a way that the carefully crafted strategy comes alive for everyone as a motivating and convincing story. It how to gain that conviction across the entire organization that Willie truly excels at. Strategy for him proves itself in the actions that an organization takes to create value for customers and sharehiolders and not the PowerPoint slides that distill that strategy into bullet points. When you read 'Strategic Learning' the first time (and the second and third times as well,) you will be inspired to get to work right away at leading your organization to achieve excellence and you will be abundantly equipped to do so.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By P. Van Der Westhuizen on May 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent, practical, process for analysing real world situations and deciding what to focus on and how
to execute. It probably takes a few rounds of execution to
get it working smoothly in the organisation.
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Format: Hardcover
"STRATEGIC LEARNING" by WILLIE PIETERSEN

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
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Format: Hardcover
For me, this is the first time I have come across a strategic development orientation which is rooted so well in practice. Professor Pietersen has wonderfully taken his emense and successful experience as a business leader and tranlated it to a practical framework which can be applied to any industry. As a business leader, I am going to make this a "must read" for those which I work, and embed it as a way of doing business. Professor Pietersen brilliantly brings his Strategic Learning method to life with rich real- world examples of its application. A great read that will make you a believer!
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