The book’s high point (and it is a high point) comes in the final chapter, where the authors put forward 10 proposals for “playing the long game,” that is, successfully maintaining a certain course of action while also rebuilding for the future. It’s the gold at the end of the rainbow. In particular, the points about selecting and developing a different next generation of management, ensuring that decision making allows for dissent, and being mindful of the risks that come with size and dominance could have helped many firms I’ve worked with, even if the ideas are far easier to appreciate in theory than to implement in practice. Here is where the journey through the early chapters pays off, the weak links move to the background, and the broad strokes emerge.
If this effort could be recast, I would like to see this book positioned as a thought piece, inspired by the authors’ own careful observations and reflections, as well as those of others, rather than as a scientific study. Cast as science, it has shortcomings that are hard to get by. But cast as thoughtful commentary, Strategic Transformation has much more to offer.
- Cynthia A. Montgomery is the Timken Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. She is the author of The Strategist: Be the Leader Your Business Needs (HarperBusiness, 2012) and was featured in a Thought Leader interview in s+b’s Spring 2013 issue.