Many great books about strategic management have been written by various interesting authors. In order to learn more about strategic management and related topics, I chose to start reading strategic management books that seemed interesting. There are many books on my personal list that have been derived from various recommendations, and here I want to share my experiences with reading them. This first book list consists of three books that are a good way to get started with deepening knowledge on strategic management.
The first book on my list is HBR’S 10 Must Reads: The Essentials, which is written by various influential authors. The book consists of ten Harvard Business Review articles that are related to several different topics of strategic management. The authors include names such as Michael Porter and Clayton Christensen, and the latest version of the collection was published in 2010. Not surprisingly some of these articles were already familiar to me from my studies in the MSc Strategic Management program. I noticed that some reviewers have said that ‘if you read only one book about strategic management, read this.’
The statement is indeed true that many of these articles have defined some aspects of strategic management and I agree that this article collection is a great way of gathering valid information on strategic management. However, some of the articles have been later on challenged by opposing arguments, which means that relying on the findings of this article collection would be very one-dimensional. Nevertheless, the reader should understand that this is a limited collection of articles and a snapshot of what strategic management is about, but in my opinion a very good collection indeed. The articles are relatively easy to read and understand, and this collection will certainly strengthen your knowledge on the covered subjects and strategic management in general.
The second book of my list is The Ten-Day MBA 4th Ed.: A Step-by-Step Guide to Mastering the Skills Taught In America’s Top Business Schools by Steven Silbiger. The first edition of this book was published in 1993 and the fourth edition in 2012, which is the most recent one. This book covers ten chapters of the most important topics covered in top MBA programs, which is the reasoning behind the name of ten-day MBA. This book is, thus, a possibility to gain insights of the most vital aspects of business management relatively quickly.
I consider this book a very clever one because of its structure and reasoning. Honestly said, many students tend to forget a lot of what they have learned and I most likely true with MBA and business students as well. This book, therefore, aims to focus on teaching the most important concepts, those that are actually used by business graduates in their day-to-day life. Some people could call this approach superficial or otherwise disagree with the concept, but I personally recommend this book as a good reference book and an introduction into general business management. This book is certainly very useful for both potential, current and graduated business students, because it gives relevant information and key takeaways of multiple topics relatively quickly. In addition, the book is written in a lively and easy manner, and it also can be considered as a basis for further studies in these subjects.
The third book on my list is Good to Great by Jim Collins. Written in 2001, this strategic management book became a bestseller outside the typical business audience as well. Collins had gathered a relatively large team of researchers who analyzed “6,000 articles, generated more than 2,000 pages of interview transcripts and created 384 megabytes of computer data in a five-year project”. The purpose of this research project was to find out why some companies succeed and others do not, thus why some companies are able to transfer from good to great.
The book gives seven characteristics of good companies that became great. These characteristics consist of the concept of level 5 leadership, finding first the right people, confronting brutal facts, the hedgehog concept, culture of discipline, technology accelerators and the flywheel concept. These concepts are illustrated with “great companies” and their competitors. The book is written in a simple and convincing tone, and these examples illustrate the given concepts well. The book has been criticized for the fact that some of the included “great companies” did not stay great. The author has responded to this criticism by stating that indeed this has happened, but they were once great while operating by the seven concepts. In addition, some of the concepts may be considered as too simple and common-sense, although I do not necessarily consider simple concepts as bad.
The Good to Great serves a purpose for giving simple and easy-to-remember concepts that are still backed by significant research. I notice this book cited in various recent articles and books about practical business management. The Good to Great might not be as theory-driven or academically pioneering as some other publications, but it certainly has reminded many readers about important principles in business management.
These three books are different approaches to strategic management and general business management, and I believe that they could form a reasonable “strategic management starter pack.” Obviously they have faced criticism but also a very significant amount of praise and interest. There are other great strategic management books out there to begin with, but these three are those that I would probably discover first. Enjoy your readings!