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The Lords of Strategy: The Secret Intellectual History of the New Corporate World Hardcover – March 3, 2010
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This enjoyable book deserves consideration for your physical or virtual bookshelf.” The Journal of Product Innovation Management
I must say that you’ve written a great book that reads almost like a juicy tell all.” Consulting Magazine
Even though we are only 4 months into 2010, it is pretty likely this is going to be the best business book of the year for me. If you are considering, currently in, or recently graduated from, an MBA program, you really must read this book. If this book had been written 10 years ago, it would have saved me a good deal of trouble making my own career decisions.” RibbonFarm.com
Named one of 5 Smart Books” on the origins of the strategies SmartMoney.com
Kiechel has done a real service in bringing his subject to life. The book serves as a primer as well as a history, and as such almost any executive or B-school student would do well to pick it up.” The Conference Board Review
engaging book” - Strategy + Business
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Top Customer Reviews
He sees the best strategists as objective intellectuals who see patterns of evidence and put them through conceptual frameworks to produce pragmatic insights. This largely began in the sixties and seventies when strategy began to be systematized and integrated. Cost, customer and competitors were the three primary areas strategists looked for patterns to exploit. In the nineties, the practices were more fad-like including reengineering and total quality management. This was the era I practiced in and I felt like the lone voice extolling the virtue of a simple but robust strategic planning process. I jumped for joy when in June, 1997, BusinessWeek had on their cover, The Return of Strategic Planning: Once More With Feeling. Which was the pivot point for Taylorism-like monitoring and measurement processes becoming more humanistic and holistic in their design.
The author tells some great industry stories but what struck me is just how important the role of strategy and management consultants is to business. The influence that such a small number of people and firms have had on modern business is truly staggering.Read more ›
This is the most interesting book on strategy that I have read, because it tells the story of the individuals and consulting firms who created the strategy concepts and tools which revolutionised corporations around the world towards the end of the 20th century. The idiosyncrasies of brilliant strategists are described, as are their struggles to have their ideas accepted. The author's personal knowledge of the major players makes the narrative more compelling.
The author even-handedly discusses both the good points and the bad points of the various strategic ideas, but on the whole he is an admirer of the lords of strategy and tends to exonerate them from blame for the mess the world now finds itself in, whereas others might be inclined to accuse them of encouraging companies to undertake unwise levels of risk in order to maximise short-term shareholder returns. I found some parts of the book a bit dry, but for the most part it was highly engaging.
It is ...
... a historical view of the strategy consulting industry as driven by Boston Consulting Group, Bain & Co., and McKinsey& Co. in the US, and eventually worldwide, from 1963 until 2010. Some other consultancies are acknowledged to have existed but with minimal impact on the industry.
... a look into the careers and personalities that were successful in influencing the strategy consulting industry, in how clients were procured, how projects were run, and how the products/ideas that were sold.
... a view that the academic contributions to business strategy thought stemmed mostly from Michael Porter alone although sometimes with some help from a handful of others with Harvard connections.
... a rosy view of strategy consultants and their work. There are times when the author talks about when the consultants steered into some trouble, but they come off as brilliant, well-intentioned souls who have made the world a far better place.
... a well-written story. M. Kiechel tells the tale in a very readable manner and likes to pepper in words that you don't often read in business books. If you like reading lines like this, "Begin with the element of propinquity.", you will enjoy reading this book.
... biased towards all things associated with Harvard. M. Kiechel goes a long way to explain the education credentials of people and ideas and how they relate in some way to Harvard. It starts to feel like the author is being paid for a Harvard commercial, and it gets tedious by the end.
It is not ...
... a beginner's guide to business strategy. The reader is assumed to have some familiarity with the subject.Read more ›
Kiechel approaches his subject neither with reverence nor venom: he helps us understand the pioneering thinkers who created the world of "business strategy" by exploring the ways in which they reshaped the corporate landscape, how their personalities influenced their work, and the lasting impact (for better and worse) that they have had. He's equally prescient about how the Lords bolstered the careers of their client CEOs and enriched shareholders (eventually) -- and why, especially for middle managers, a deep consulting engagement can feel more like a rectal exam than an exercise in improving the company. He traces the rising dominance of left-brained analytical thinking in the consulting firm and the executive suite as well as the increasing "fierceness" of capitalism.
I've learned more reading this book than in any 10 average business books (and I've read a lot of them). It really is a must-read for anyone in business or entering the corporate world. It will explain much, prepare you well, and expand your understanding of contemporary business thinking.
Full disclosure: the author is a former colleague. The principal impact that has had on this review is that I can say unabashedly that in this book he demonstrates the same erudition, wit, and ability to bring together seemingly disparate ideas, people, and events into a thoroughly compelling narrative just as he did when we worked together. I've already purchased multiple copies of this book for associates so my money is co-located with my mouth.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I read this book 6 years ago, when I was still working on my application for MBA and whether I should choose a career in management consulting. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Santa
Gives a broad historical perspective on the important topic of business strategy, from the early days to the current. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Charles Barr
Excellent if you are into the business world and the value of consulting. Made me sad that I did not finish the work toward my MBA.Published 2 months ago by F. Donald Hangartner
This book is simply the best strategic overview of the history of organizational strategy available today. Read morePublished 3 months ago by MSteele
As a history of the evolution of ideas and concepts that make much of strategy oriented discussions in modern enterprises, the book succeeds in building an engaging narrative of... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Deepak Alse
This is an exhaustive and thorough examination of the history and development of strategy in corporate america. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Steve Bermes