Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Hardball: Are You Playing to Play or Playing to Win

4.0 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1591391678
ISBN-10: 1591391679
Why is ISBN important?
ISBN
This bar-code number lets you verify that you're getting exactly the right version or edition of a book. The 13-digit and 10-digit formats both work.
Scan an ISBN with your phone
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Buy used On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
$4.29 On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
Buy new On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
$19.23 On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
More Buying Choices
71 New from $1.72 135 Used from $0.01 2 Collectible from $9.85
Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Prime Student Free%20Two-Day%20Shipping%20for%20College%20Students%20with%20Amazon%20Student


Books with Buzz
Discover the latest buzz-worthy books, from mysteries and romance to humor and nonfiction. Explore more
$19.23 FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books. In Stock. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover

Frequently Bought Together

  • Hardball: Are You Playing to Play or Playing to Win
  • +
  • Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't
Total price: $36.22
Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

Review

"...an intelligent and textured primer..." -- The Wall Street Journal, 15 October, 2004

"Hardball is already causing a stir." -- The Economist, August 26, 2004

"Overall, it’s an unusually deep, fine-grained, and useful piece of business analysis." -- Entrepreneur, January 2005

"[T]he authors' message, eminently worth the read, is that you can succeed by competing relentlessly, intelligently and, yes, fairly." -- The Wall Street Journal, 15 October, 2004

About the Author

George Stalk and Rob Lachenauer are Directors of The Boston Consulting Group. Stalk is the author of Competing Against Time, the classic work on time-based competition.
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (October 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591391679
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591391678
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.8 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #648,480 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Spend big bucks and hire The Boston Consulting Group to help you with your strategy . . . and what do you get? Hardball answers that question indirectly through sharing classic strategies for achieving competitive and economic advantage employed by BCG clients.

As a result, I think this book will be most appealing to MBAs thinking about working for BCG and potential clients who want to get a sense of what the outcome might be like.

For those who are well read in business strategy, this book will be a disappointment. It focuses on very little you haven't read or thought about many times before. Skip this book if you are in this category.

The strategies discussed include overwhelming competitors with superior resources (Frito-Lay versus Eagle Snacks), adjusting to take advantage of what customers want more of (more variety and better delivery from Wausau Papers), threatening competitors' sources of profits (Japanese auto makers go after the Big 3's positions in minivans and SUVs in North America), copy and improve on better business models (Batesville Casket applies automotive manufacturing techniques), encourage your competitor to retreat (attack the bottom of the market first in low margin categories and move up), refocus your business model on one set of advantages (CarMax), acquire others to build your strengths while making competitors more vulnerable (Masonite International), and change the nature of competition (get to low-cost sourcing earlier than competitors, secure low-cost assets sooner and play the Wal-Mart card carefully).

The overall metaphor for the book has its problems. If you play to win, you are playing hardball. Al Dunlap (author of Mean Business) was a hardball guy, but it didn't pay off at Sunbeam.
Read more ›
Comment 21 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
There are some good pointers that will be familiar to those who have studied strategy, but the authors' attempt to dress up existing knowledge using the "hardball" metaphor is just a gimmick.

The authors laud "hardball players" such as Dell, WalMart, and Toyota. These are the companies that pursue competitive advantage "with a single-minded focus." As if on cue, the "softball players" are trotted out -- those companies that "aren't intensely serious about winning." Wouldn't it be nice if it were this simple? The truth is that many businesses play hardball but lose anyway. Think about it.

The "hardball" sports analogy implies that the goal is to defeat one's competitors and, by doing so, win the game. As somebody who has built a successful business, experience tells me that this is not accurate. Truly innovative businesses learn how to change the game, or play their own game, and thereby deliver superior value and results. Defeating your competitor might be a by-product of success, but it is not the main objective. After all, Toyota didn't have to defeat BMW to become the powerhouse of the auto industry.

This book is too simplistic to be useful to anybody who already has a rudimentary grasp of corporate strategy.
Comment 24 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
In the words of author Gertrude Stein: "There's no 'there' there." I was very impressed with the first third of this book and then my interest in reading it simply fell off the edge of the table.

The book relies almost exclusively on anecdotal evidence to support its claims, and most examples aren't that well developed. Some conclusions are muddled or, in my view, considered "stretches."

One of my personal pet peeves is that this book is horribly edited. It is riddled with misspelled words and other grammatical nightmares. It was horribly distracting. It seemed like they almost rushed this book to print to coincide with the article in Fast Company magazine.

Even though it's only 159 pages, halfway through this book, I just couldn't wait to be done with it. I'm glad I checked it out of the library. I would have been p*ssed if I had paid $25 for it.
Comment 24 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
Using baseball vernacular, the authors of this book say that the most successful companies are those that keep their mind on developing strategies that gain them competitive advantage, which in turn will bring them substantial sales margins, above-average profit margins and earnings, lower-than-average debt, higher-than average credit ratings, and most important, leading market share. How can you possibly argue with that.

But then they talk about drawing a bright line in what they call the caution zone. That's the point where society clearly says stop: up say, until someone finds you've created a Love Canal; a Bhopal, India gas leak; or of course that lovely morning when the Justice Department's Anti Trust Folk come calling.

I could do without the sports comparisons, but the descriptions of the actions of various companies, the anecdotes of success, how the game is played in the major leagues (sorry, I had to) is quite interesting and well worth the low cost of the book. All you need is one or two good ideas to make up your cost and time.
Comment 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
What kind of fool would shell out $25 to buy a book he new he was going to detest? Uh, me. If you're impressed with platitudes, by all means read this book. It's amazing how obvious some of the recommendations are. If the authors had spent more time explaining how to know when to change strategies, rather than focusing on hindsight, this book could have been powerful. It's a shame, really. George Stalk and Rob Lachenauer have published much deeper research in HBR and other strategy journals. They wrote this book in extremely high level terms that yield almost zero insight. This book was extremely weak, basically, it just lacked substance. I definitely don't recommend this book unless you are looking for a VERY fluffy high level concepts.
Comment 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Hardball: Are You Playing to Play or Playing to Win
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway
This item: Hardball: Are You Playing to Play or Playing to Win

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?