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‘Smart Things to Know about Strategy’ by Richard Koch


Smart Things to Know about Strategy
Author: Richard Koch
Publisher: Capstone
Date: 1999
ISBN: 1 84112 034 0
Price: GBP 12.99

Having read Koch’s The 80/20 Principle and found it enlightening, I expected that this book too would be good – and I was not disappointed. However, it is so packed with good ideas that it gave me a problem in writing a review because it was hard to decide what to leave out. I ended up wanting to include so much that the review would be almost as long as the book.

So, I’ve decided to keep it short and recommend that you get the book yourself. It’s so full of ideas that you’ll want to have it to dip into. That way, you’ll continue to acquire new ideas for a long time to come.

How will that happen? Well, the book contains:

- smart quotes and smart things to say about strategies – lots of little boxes and cartoon bubbles with comments in them
- killer questions – lists of questions to ask yourself to check out what you’re doing (or not)
- smart people to have on your side – some great potted descriptions of what the famous names in strategic thinking have done – people like Drucker, Peters, Handy, Henry Ford and ten other entries that summarise their contributions in a few pages
- smart answers to tough questions – responses to the type of questions that basically say why bother
- smart examples of corporate strategy – vignettes from organisations such as Canon, ABB, Toys 'R Us and many others
- and even a page of ‘bumper sticker’ strategies –along with guidelines for ensuring these are valid

Enough there to keep you dipping into the book for a long time to come. Also great if you want quotes for a training programme. And all that is in addition to the main content of the book, which is set out in 8 chapters that lead us through:

- a review of what strategy is followed by a chapter that makes a case against it
- a couple of chapters on competitive advantage
- the case for simplicity, emphasising the 80/20 principle
- how to apply various approaches to corporate strategy making
- Koch’s own interpretation of trends facing big business and why we should dismantle it
- finishing with a chapter that contains ‘The 19 habits of smart strategists’ and ‘The daily habits of smart strategists’

The last chapter ends with ‘career pointers for the smart strategist’, including "The future does not belong to large organisations. If you’re in one, plan your escape. If you’re not, don’t get trapped in one." (page 218) That quote should give you some idea of the irreverent style of the book – don’t read it unless you want to be challenged and stimulated.

Reviewed by Julie Hay, Chief Executive of training consultancy A.D. International
email [email protected]

This book is available now in the TrainingZone shopping Mall.


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