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Strategic Learning: How to Be Smarter Than Your Competition and Turn Key Insights into Competitive Advantage Hardcover – March 15, 2010

4.9 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

The Way You Do Strategy Can Make Your Organization Smarter Than Your Competition!

In today’s dynamic marketplace, traditional strategic planning methods no longer work. The key challenge facing managers is to build adaptive organizations able to assess the shifting environment and rapidly translate insights into winning strategies over and over again. “Strategy as a planning exercise” must become “strategy as a learning exercise.” Excelling at this capability is an organization’s only sustainable competitive advantage.

Willie Pietersen’s Strategic Learning process gives you a practical and proven method for turning key insights about your market, customers, and competitors into action. Since Pietersen first defined them in Reinventing Strategy, the concepts and tools of Strategic Learning have been battle-tested in the harshest economy in a generation, helping to reinvigorate a wide range of corporations and not-for-profit organizations. The strategic learning process also forms the basis for how strategy is taught in Columbia Business School’s Executive Education programs.

Strategic Learning presents Pietersen’s unique “insight to action” model. Using this cycle of four linked steps—Learn, Focus, Align, and Execute—your organization will continuously learn from its environment and its own actions, adjust its strategies to fit the competitive landscape, and consistently outthink and outperform your competition. You’ll navigate through crises while building the organizational readiness to identify the next challenge, the resilience to withstand it, and the ability to profit from it.

Filled with examples showing real-world applications of its principles, Strategic Learning will redefine how you approach strategy. Coming from one of the best minds in business, this far-reaching set of ideas equips managers at all levels to lead the way to lasting competitive advantage.

From the Back Cover

Praise for Strategic Learning

"Strategic Learning has become a vital element of how we think about the future in Ericsson. The wisdom of Willie Pietersen's approach to strategy has helped us move from planning rituals to strategy as learning, and has made a big difference to the way we work."
—Hans Vestberg, President and CEO, Ericsson

"Strategic Learning is the best method I've ever found for creating winning strategies."
—Michael Mahoney, Company Group Chairman, Johnson & Johnson

"Pietersen's focus on creating highly adaptive and dynamic strategy is essential for our turbulent times. His Strategic Learning process forces companies to confront difficult truths presented by the marketplace and helps them thrive amid uncertainty."
—Jill Spencer, Executive Vice President, Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta

"Strategic Learning and Willie Pietersen have had an amazing impact on the Girl Scouts, helping us create a transformational strategy to bring relevance to a ninety-seven-year-old organization. We are confident that we are now focusing on the few things that are making the biggest difference."
—Kathy Cloninger, Chief Executive Officer, Girl Scouts of the USA

"Willie Pietersen's deep insights about strategy and leadership have helped our commercial and medical leaders understand how we can move from merely doing strategy to excelling at it."
—David Epstein, President and CEO, Novartis Oncology, Novartis Molecular Diagnostics

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (March 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470540699
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470540695
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #176,818 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I like reading books on strategy and this one stands out because the author's framework, based on years of experience, is pratical and easy to follow.

At the heart of Mr. Pietersen's strategic framework are four core activities:

1. Learning (as in assessment)
2. Focus (what needs to be done)
3. Align (right people, process, and metrics)
4. Execute (working the plan)

The above process is just that--an ongoing process that never ends.

There are so many gems in this book, and it's hard to drawn attention to just a few, but let me try:

- The author does a great job at explaining the differences between planning and strategy and how the two connect. Strategy first, planning afterwards according to the author.

- The value/cost gap ... excellent discussion along with examples. GM's value/cost gap is tight compared to Toyota/Honda.

- Others include the Sigmoid Curve, compounding through focus, and so many more. I particularly appreciated the discussion about McDonald's "Plan to Win" strategy. A Google search will give you more details about this process at the Wharton School Publishing website.

Consider reading this book with a pad and pen. There's a lot here so you will reap the most benefits by taking notes along the way. Then, I'd suggest reading a second time to determine the specifics you wish to apply in your organization.

The author states this book stands on its own, but I will still be buying his first book on the same subject.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Many business books are written by consultants with some interesting theories or insights based on data but Willie has both the experiences and the insights that make this book a joy to read. The title is a bit misleading as one might think this is another create a learning organization to win - its not. This is a really insightful review of what it takes to turn insights into competitive advantage. Its about four elements: Conducting situational awareness, defining strategic choices and Vision, Metrics and rewards, and Implementation. Throughout there is a nice balance between setting up the theory, the rational, and the real world experiences that bring the book to life and give it credibility.
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Format: Hardcover
Willie Pietersen has written a book that is big in ambition and scope and small in number of pages. I work in the field of Executive Development and have had the pleasure of meeting many professors of strategy and leadership at leading universities, worldwide. No one matches Willie's passion and expertise for getting across the essential job of the leader, namely, to lead strategically and do that by developing strategies that galvanize all employees to align behind those vital few things that make the biggest difference. You can read ten different books about strategy but you will be better off reading Willie's book ten times since the challenge he presents is one of putting his ideas into practice and then leading in such a way that the carefully crafted strategy comes alive for everyone as a motivating and convincing story. It how to gain that conviction across the entire organization that Willie truly excels at. Strategy for him proves itself in the actions that an organization takes to create value for customers and sharehiolders and not the PowerPoint slides that distill that strategy into bullet points. When you read 'Strategic Learning' the first time (and the second and third times as well,) you will be inspired to get to work right away at leading your organization to achieve excellence and you will be abundantly equipped to do so.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The book provides an important insight for how organisations can operate, compete and sustain in our highly disruptive business environment. The idea of thinking of “Strategy as a planning exercise” must become ‘strategy as a learning exercise’ is an excellent one for organisations to adopt in order for them to become adaptive and agile in the Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) world.

The “Leading through Strategic Learning” model which incorporates these four important linked steps is used throughout the book to illustrate this approach to strategy :
Learn- Conduct Situation Analysis
Focus- Define Strategic Choices and Vision
Align- Measures and Rewards
Execute- Implement and Experiment
Well written with many examples of the applications of the above model makes this a readable and useful book to have.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent, practical, process for analysing real world situations and deciding what to focus on and how
to execute. It probably takes a few rounds of execution to
get it working smoothly in the organisation.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I had the privilege to attend learning sessions held by Willie on the subject Strategic Learning and
at the time I could not find time to read his previous book. Now I read this one and I definitely can recommend it.
Suitable for managers aspiring to become Leaders. It covers a lot of ground and under the heading:
What does your customer value the most and how can you deliver that value in the most efficient and effective way.
That is what make you outperform competition.
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