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Best Business Books 2004: Strategy

Kaplan and Norton’s strategy maps are consistent with both our concept of integrated strategy and Bossidy and Charan’s business model concept. Both include financial targets and customers; internal activities are subdivided into internal processes and intangible assets; and external realities are reflected in the specific metrics that companies select. However, where Bossidy and Charan err on the side of art, Kaplan and Norton come down on the side of science. Indeed, whether it’s intended or not, Strategy Maps can lead the reader to think that management is simply a mechanized process of identifying and pulling levers. But that’s precisely the reason these books have power when read side by side — think of them as stepping stones on the pathway toward integrated strategy.

Each of these books offers different value for different readers depending on their knowledge and needs. So we suggest selectively investing your time, depending on your context.

For students of business, these books are all must-reads, both to understand the state of play in the ongoing strategy dialogue and to become familiar with some lasting ideas. Aspiring managers should sample a chapter or two of each, delving deeper into the book that addresses the issues that concern them most directly. Senior managers and strategists will find little that’s new in any of the books, although they may find important reminders and some new avenues for further thought.

Whether you read these books or not, we urge you to keep in mind the insights we have highlighted from each, particularly Bossidy and Charan’s admonition: Confront reality. Every manager should continually question whether his or her business is adequately confronting reality. Will the traditional business model continue to generate profitability? Are traditional competitors changing their models? Are potential competitors testing new business models? Is my business in danger of losing its preeminence?

These are certainly the right questions, and we predict that as the study and theory of strategy evolves, future authors will continue to investigate and emphasize the interrelationships between the external realities and internal operations of businesses, eventually arriving at a consistent, unified theory of integrated strategy.

Author Profiles:

Chuck Lucier ([email protected]) is senior vice president emeritus of Booz Allen Hamilton. He is currently writing a book and consulting on strategy and knowledge issues with selected clients. For Mr. Lucier’s latest publications, see

Jan Dyer ([email protected]) spent 11 years at Booz Allen Hamilton, where she served as the firm’s director of intellectual capital and, as a principal, worked with corporations in a variety of industries. She has worked independently for the past two years, specializing in the strategic application of knowledge and learning.

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