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Being Strategic: Plan for Success; Out-think Your Competitors; Stay Ahead of Change Paperback – August 3, 2010
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“[Erika Andersen is] to strategy what Suze Orman is to personal finance!” ―Nancy Tellem, Senior Advisor to the CEO, CBS Corporation
“[A] clear, practical and powerful approach for navigating through tough times.” ―Bonnie Hammer, President, NBCU Cable Entertainment and Cable Studios
“Unlike most experts in her field, Erika Andersen has an approach to being strategic that's sensible and accessible. With her, you feel capable of creating the business, career and life you want. She's to strategy what Suze Orman is to personal finance!” ―Nancy Tellem, President, CBS Paramount Television Network Entertainment Group
“Over the past decade, in each of the companies I've led, I've relied on Erika Andersen to help me engage my senior team in getting clear about the future we want to create for our enterprise, and figuring out what it will take for us to get there. Her vision and strategy process helps us get our heads around complex issues in a way that's unusually simple: I'm always surprised, at the end of a session, how we've made our aspirations practical and built a clear path to achieving them.” ―Doug Herzog, President, MTVN Entertainment Group
“My partners and I have turned to Erika Andersen each time our company has reached a new plateau of growth - and generally when we need her expert prodding, analysis, and follow-up to get us over the next organizational hump. When I described our most recent re-structuring plan to a friend - a seasoned and successful financial professional - he was certain we must have hired McKinsey & Co. to help us think things through. Wrong. It was Erika Andersen.” ―Danny Meyer, restaurateur, President, Union Square Hospitality Group
“To most of us, the thought of articulating a long-term strategy that is both visionary and practical seems an overwhelming task. The approach used by Erika Anderson enables a team to effectively articulate ideas, reach consensus, and formulate a detailed course of action for achieving their vision.” ―Kathy Dore, President, CanWest Media Broadcasting
“When I became President of Women in Cable Telecommunications in 2001, I realized the organization needed to re-invent itself. Since that time, we've used the Proteus strategic approach to create a clear, powerful vision of the organization we wanted, and then to continually move toward that vision. WICT is now growing and vital -- and Erika's work with us has been hugely helpful in making that our reality.” ―Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, President WICT and Olympic Gold Medalist
About the Author
Erika Andersen is the founder of Proteus International, an organizational development firm whose clients include celebrity restaurateur Danny Meyer, MTV Networks, Rockwell Automation, Comcast Corp., General Electric, Time Inc., and NBC Universal.
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You will not be disappointed.
As Andersen points out, “strategic thinking” and “strategy” have unfortunately taken on various (mostly wrong) definitions and interpretations. Her objective in this book is to provide a practical framework for structuring one’s thought process in the context of developing a strategy. Andersen emphasizes that strategic thinking is applicable to anyone who needs to successfully navigate obstacles in order to reach a goal...and that includes pretty much all of us. To that end, Andersen uses the memorable and entertaining metaphor of the building of a castle on a hill by an ancient Welsh tribe to illustrate the various steps included in strategic thinking.
The book sets forth the concept of strategic thinking over the following key chapters...
Defining the challenge
Pulling back the camera to understand the current situation
Articulating the aspiration, goal or end-state one would like to achieve
Crafting the strategy
Andersen concludes with some good discussion on developing your personal strategy and facilitating strategic discussions.
What I liked about the book: the contents of a particular strategy may be complex, but the approach or framework used is remarkably straightforward as set forth in the chapters I mentioned above. This book provides a clear and concise template that should be applicable in even the most demanding settings. The castle metaphor was entertaining and reinforced the concepts. There are also brief exercises scattered throughout the book that allow you to plug in your own particular component of the strategic thinking framework.
A shortcoming: although there are references throughout the book, I don’t think the book sufficiently emphasized the importance of “what we’re not going to do” as part of the strategic thinking process. This merits additional mention because it’s at the core of strategy -- successful strategic thinkers maintain a tight focus on a very limited number of choices to the exclusion of other possible options.
That said, this is an excellent strategic thinking primer that is applicable to a wide audience. I’ll go further and suggest that this book would make a wonderful gift to a high school or college grad who’s just starting out and would benefit from adopting a simple and useful framework for thinking about how to overcome challenges and accomplish their goals.