I have over 30 years of experience with strategic thinking as a consultant and planner. I constantly find that people have totally different concepts of what strategy is all about. Each tends to be either too focused in one area, or incomplete in some aspects. As a result, people logically arrive at some pretty bad strategic conclusions. Typically, this involves a strategy that the organization cannot execute well or which the competitors will quickly negate.
What I like about this simple book is that it nicely summarizes the case for a balanced perspective of customer, competitor and your own company. Although most American companies will believe that they do this, the American approach is much more superficial and incomplete than the Japanese one. For example, if a Japanese company wants to add a new product, the evaluation looks heavily at how well the customer will be able to use the product and how effectively the company will be able to provide it in the context of probable competitive offerings. An American analysis will feature financial analysis of a forecast that is often based on little more than spreadsheet doodling.
The weakness of the Japanese model is that they typically look too little at the business environment (notice how often they buy American businesses and properties at the top of the market for inflated prices), and are relatively insensitive to financial implications. In fast moving technology markets, the Japanese consensus-building process also tends to slow down time to market.
Clearly, there is no perfect model for strategic thinking that fits all situations. A major weakness of many efforts is to assume that the future can be precisely forecast. That is patently wrong. Typically, the relative importance of the elements considered needs to be adjusted to fit the circumstnace. That seems to be an art rather than a science at this point. Although this book has its limitations (as suggested above), it is a valuable perspective on strategy thinking that will be helpful to most American business people if they think about the concepts in a more thorough way.
To balance the perspective here, I suggest you also read Profit Patterns to get a sense of how circumstances play a role in profitability.
Good thinking! May this book help you overcome any stalled thinking you have about not doing your home work in thinking about outperforming competitors to provide benefits that matter a lot to customers.
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This is an interesting book. It has very solid points.Let me point some out."In business as on the battlefield, the object of strategy is to bring about the conditions most favorable to one's own side.The first stage in strategic thinking is to pinpoint the critical issues in the situation."This book is great.It makes you think how corporations really operate out there.I know the book focuses on Japan.But I think corporations, ouside of Japan operate in the same mannor.If your looking for company, corporation, strategist type thinking this is a good book to start with.