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Corporate Strategic Planning: 7 Business Strategy Books

We are a bit children of the companies we work for , especially of the first company we worked for. In the sense that, for better or for worse, it influences our thinking about ” what it means to work in a company “. And as soon as we enter the company , the item ” reading company strategy books
” is among our last priorities to understand what the strategic planning of our company is in reality (beyond the beautiful power points that show us as a welcome).

But luckily it’s never too late to know and understand and there are several business strategy books that help us in this direction.

But why should we read business strategy books… if the company isn’t ours ?

Because it makes us change the approach we have in our work . It makes us change our point of view. We believe the limits but also the potential of our company, and it opens our minds to reflect: is this really the place where we want to spend (at least) eight hours of each day?

So here are some books on business strategy and business management models that can give valuable insights.

Blue Ocean Strategy – #1

Hands down the most comprehensive and best written business strategy book I have ever read.

It starts from a concept that immediately attracted me:

Not : ” you have to build the best company to beat the competition “,

but rather : ” to create a company that has no competition

A company that creates a sector with such peculiar characteristics as to have no competitors , or to discourage any from trying. Basically, a company capable of swimming in a blue ocean without competitors, rather than floundering in a red ocean full of piranhas.

The strategy to follow is explained in detail and there is no excuse not to apply it: it is adaptable to both new and established businesses to see if you are in a blue ocean, or if you have to work hard to get there/return. 

If you want to know the contents of the book “Blue Ocean Strategy” in detail before buying it, you can read this article this book articleBlue Ocean Strategy

OKRs – Measure what matters – #2 

In this case we are talking about methodologies to be applied that can have a beneficial impact on corporate strategies.

This method, brought to paper by John Doerr but inspired by the gests of Andy Groove, who was the first at Intel to carry it forward, is based on the definition of OKR, objective and key results.

Clear, transparent objectives and key results, which are agreed with employees and not “downloaded” by top management. Which aim at personal improvement and of the entire company, and not at the annual economic bonus.

This requires a change of mentality especially in top management , who are asked for total transparency to make clear what the business objectives are at all levels. 

A methodology that certainly winks at small and agile structures , but which can also exist in large companies (Google teaches).

If you want to get an idea of ​​the contents of the book before buying it, you can read this articleon OKR Measure What Matters

Cradle to Cradle – #3

Although it was written 15 years ago , it has ideas that would still be futuristic today for many companies that boast of having a green footprint and an eye to sustainability .

More than a strategy book, it is a vision book on the concept of sustainable enterprise (and the world) , with a truly broad spectrum.
Sustainable business does not mean making products that are simply recyclable, but creating products already conceived from the design to feed the circular supply chain , with materials and manufacturing processes that have the least possible impact. The same will also apply to the recycling and reuse phases and processes.

One quote that struck me is the one about the cherry tree : in the eyes of those who look at efficiency, this tree is total anti-efficiency . It produces thousands of rapidly falling flowers. Then followed by a few fruits, only half of which ripen or “survive” the birds to be eaten by us.

Yet these fallen flowers and fruits feed the soil and the species that live underground, allowing the tree to flourish more luxuriantly the following year , and improve the conditions of the underlying soil.
Are the words “intensive cultivation” and “herbicides” starting to buzz around in your head?

The lean startup – #4

First published ten years ago, this book was the cornerstone of the generation of aspiring startuppers and revolutionary entrepreneurs in general.

The method that Erik Ries exposes derives from his direct experience – and above all mistakes – in carrying out his own startups, one for all IMVU, a social media mixed with The Sims very popular in the USA.

This method overturns many of the traditional company’s beliefs : it dramatically reduces times, induces us to test with the least evolved prototypes possible and to reach the public immediately to evaluate whether our proposal is considered of value or not. Because it must be the customer who gives us information on his “pain points” and our product must solve his problem.

A beautiful object that is perceived to have no intrinsic value … nobody will buy it.

Here you find an article in which I reported thebasic concepts of the book The Lean Startup

Exponential Organizations – #5

The future is already here.

Le Organizzazioni Esponenziali sono reputate da alcuni l’evoluzione della Lean Startup: un’azienda che oltre ad essere lean, ha le caratteristiche per poter crescere in maniera esponenziale.

Queste caratteristiche sono 10, e Salim Ismail dà nel libro anche una metrica per misurarle l’esponenzialità, e mostrando i voti dati a famose aziende (esponenziali e non).

Che vuol dire di preciso “esponenziali”?

An example adapted to us : if we were doctors or carpenters, in our time we would be able to make a limited number of visits or constructions. If, on the other hand, we were writers, after the effort made to write a book, this could make us earn for a long time (if it had good sales. And yes, knowing full well that we are not all JK Rowling, I know).

The next time at 18 we decide which job to do or which company to open, let’s think about it !

Are you intrigued by this book? I talked about it in this article which includes the main contents of the bookExponential Organizations

Holocracy – #6

Holacracy is the “master” level of corporate utopia.

A company without hierarchies, in which the components regulate themselves having only one goal: the goal. By decimating lengthy decision-making, meetings, permits and authorizations. The achievement of the objective is left solely to the initiatives of the working groups.

As extreme as this business model is, it was developed in a company, Ternary Software, thanks to its CEO Brian Robertson, who also developed a guideline to introduce holacracy in the company: the Holocratic Constitution.

Probably utopian yes, but extremely enlightening on how the characteristics of our product – and of the people who create it – should push towards a certain type of corporate strategy and organization – and not the other way around.

Value Proposition Design – #7

This graphic book should be in the bookstores of all (but not only) recent graduates in place of many college textbooks that we will never reopen . It is a book that explains the birth of the Business Model Canvas , the model that encompasses all the fundamental characteristics of a business on a single page – the Canvas, in fact. 

But that’s not all: this graphic book focuses on the concept of value creation , i.e. the whole process that should be done to achieve something that the customer really wants. And it does so by guiding us step by step on things to do, techniques to implement, questions to ask and to ask ourselves, and the following development. 

For startuppers or aspiring startuppers, it is a masterpiece , but also for those who want to dabble in running their own business or even finding useful techniques for teamwork, it is a valid ally.

Joker #8 – The only rule is that there are no rules

I haven’t read this book yet (it’s next on the nightstand) and it’s about how Netflix came to be what it is thanks to very open corporate management. An example? Being able to take all the holidays you want, without limits. 

But as much as I’d like to get carried away with social proof by looking at the great reviews it has, I’m saving that judgment for when I finish reading. 


And you? What business strategy books have opened your mind the most?

Corporate strategic planning: how to understand the companies we work for

If you liked this article leave a vote or a comment . You might also be interested in 7 books on personal growth

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Marta Cavaliere

Ingegnere fuori e inseguitrice di farfalle dentro, appassionata di crescita personale, fotografia e viaggi. Credo nell'importanza di conoscere la finanza personale per diventare responsabili del nostro futuro, e nel miglioramento continuo sia personale che professionale. Instancabile procrastinatrice, mi occupo delle sezioni Crescita e Risparmio del blog guidaglinvestimenti.it

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