What do you get if you cross a military historian with a management consultant? You get this fascinating book by Stephen Bungay. Bungay is a comfortable with management as he is with history and here cleverly draws on his knowledge of the latter to influence his thinking. This is a refreshing take on a well-covered area. A must-read for any would-be strategist. (DIRECTOR)In our experience senior executives in large corporations find the approach described in this book to be a tremendously helpful way of getting to the core of issues, setting direction and aligning the organization behind it. The techniques may have been developed 150 years ago, but they could not be more relevant to business today.
(Poul Bukh, managing partner, Core Strategy)Stephen Bungay’s career as CEO, management consultant and historian enables him to bring a unique clarity to leadership and the art of making strategy happen. His study of the chastened Prussian military machine analyzing why it was defeated by Napoleon’s peasant army is illuminated with anecdotes from his career in business. It is this blend of evidence from the military to the business environment which makes this book so useful to the modern-day practitioner!
(David Roblin, senior vice president, Pfizer Global R&D)All too often, strategies fail to be implemented because they do not make tough choices between priorities and therefore leave people confused.The eminently pragmatic techniques described in this book area great way of sharpening up the thinking, the communication and the sense of accountability needed to get an organization moving. The ideas sound simple, but they are very powerful.
(Martin Bean, vice chancellor, The Open University)The Art of Action is a must for anyone in business who takes their leader ship responsibilities seriously. Stephen Bungay draws upon his deep understanding of business strategy and military history and describes principles in his book that will have a real impact for those who adopt them. The Art of Action is the strategic handbook for today built on the insights of yesterday. This will be compulsory reading for all of my unit heads.
(Eliot Forster, CEO, Solace Pharmaceuticals)We live in an age of strategic failure across the board—in international relations and economic affairs, on the battlefield as well as in the market place. Inventively and incisively, Stephen Bungay draws on Clausewitz's wisdom, military history, business literature, and common sense to develop the notion of 'directed opportunism' for breaking the ominous cycle of frustration.
(Jonathan Stevenson, professor of Strategic Studies, U.S. Naval War College)Organizational alignment remains one of the biggest challenges for leaders of large corporations. Many have fine strategies but 'the troops won't march in tune.' Stephen Bungay delves into military history to provide a stimulating insight into how to arm leaders with a powerful concept which gets strategy off the PowerPoint presentation and into action. It is a simple, but profound and entertaining read.
(Patrick Forth, senior vice president, The Boston Consulting Group)Leadership is an intangible value. What sets Stephen Bungay apart is that he draws upon his deep knowledge of historical military campaigns to highlight key leadership principles and then sets them in the context of modern business with an understanding of the particular challenges faced by each company he works for. The first part greatly entertains and captivates the audience and the second part really brings home the teachings we wish to impart. The results have been very good.
(Tom Glocer, CEO, Thomson Reuters)This is not just another book about strategy. The Art of Action does not only present a radical, counter-cultural solution to the impasse business is facing today but it is grounded in real strategic execution in a fascinating organization. It is the 'Reengineering the Corporation' of the 21st century. I intend to send a copy to all my clients
(Aidan Walsh, partner, Ernst & Young)
About the Author
Stephen Bungay is a Director of the Ashridge Strategic Management Centre in London and teaches on several executive programmes at Ashridge Business School. Educated at Oxford and the University of Tubingen, he worked in the London and Munich offices of Boston Consulting Group for 17 years and also ran a division of an insurance company. He now works as an independent consultant, teacher and speaker. An acclaimed military historian, he has published two books, including a new edition of The Most Dangerous Enemy: An Illustrated History of the Battle of Britain (published in June 2010 by Aurum), and Alamein, and is a frequent contributor to television programmes, appearing on Channel 4, Channel 5, BBC2, BBC4, the History Channel, TV New Zealand and National Geographic.