Last week I received an identical request from two sources to recommend a good book on business strategy. One is a first year MBA student and another a senior executive in a large multinational. Without hesitation, I recommended this book. Strategy has been a subject matter of interest to Business and Military than to any other profession. In both these cases it is a about doing something differently to gain advantage over the adversary either in the battlefield or in the marketplace. Strategy is not just a piece of paper or a corporate manual but a state of the mind to win against all odds. So many books and theories have been written on this subject and still it continues to be a topic that cannot be defined as an exact science. If there is one topic that can be listed as the most important for any MBA program, undoubtedly it is Business Strategy. Another reason for revisiting this book is that in the last decade, we have been overloaded with concepts of digitization and technology as the main drivers of business. We have seen technologies that are excellent but have failed miserably in the marketplace. Technocrats have failed to convert bits and bytes into bucks. In the quest for technical excellence, strategy has taken a back seat. We need to fill this vacuum of strategic thinking. But then the problem is to have a strategy to understand and apply this vital topic ! It is here that this book is one among the best I have come across till date. Strategy is a combination of elastic thinking and application of analytical method. Omahe explains this well and warns that strategy is not just somebody's spark of genius but a process that needs rigorous effort and continuos refinement. He brings in the framework of listing the concrete phenomena, grouping, abstraction and determination of approach that are actionable and practical. The three Cs' of the strategic triangle - Corporation, Customer and Competitor are at the core of this book. Each C is discussed in detail with excellent illustrations and case studies. If you need to read an executive summary, I recommend Chapter 7 - The Secret of Strategic Vision. In this chapter one paragraph in my opinion contains the essence of strategic thinking. "Strategic thinking in business must break out of the limited scope of vision that entraps deer on the highway. It must be backed by the daily use of imagination and by constant training in logical thought process. Success must be summoned; it will not come unbidden and unplanned. Top management and its corporate planners cannot base their day-to-day work on blind optimism and apply strategic thinking only when confronted by unexpected obstacles. They must develop the habit of thinking strategically, and must do it as a matter of course. Ideally, they must approach it with real enthusiasm as a stimulating mental exercise." The book was first published in 1982. Hence some of the assumptions on key economic trends under "Modern Strategic Realities" have undergone major corrections. However, the framework for strategic thinking still holds good. Though the examples are mostly from Japanese companies, Omahe concludes the book by pointing out that " Creativity, mental productivity and the power of strategic insight know no national boundaries. Fortunately for all of us, they are universal."
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