Traditionally, January is the time to start implementing our New Year resolutions. Some of us for sure made an inspiring commitment like going to the gym more often, traveling once in two months or reading books that had been sitting on a shelf for a long time. The last one is a well-known habit of all successful consultants and CEOs who manage to read at least one book in a week or even 500 pages a day as investment genius Warren Buffett does. Indeed, a broad erudition and excellent innate understanding of trends and technologies in a variety of industries are essential parts of professional accomplishments in strategy consulting. Here you can find several books that are useful for the starters and recommended by the best consulting companies and leading experts in that industry as a must-have for reading.
1.The Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing and Thinking by Barbara Minto (2008)
An ability to create a logical rationale for solving any problem is a highly valued skill in consulting. If you intend to develop structural thinking that is usually tested at interviews, you may start with Barbara Minto’s book. The Pyramid Principle explains how to define complex problems, communicate your ideas to clients and structure a variety of arguments. Additionally, you will know in detail about the MECE principle (Mutually Exclusive and Collectively Exhaustive categories of the problem or hypothesis) that guides all consultants while cracking cases.
2. The McKinsey Way by Ethan Rasiel (2017)
The McKinsey Way is the best book to start exploring the world of consulting. As the largest and most successful strategic consulting firm, McKinsey has extensive experience in solving business problems, including unique methods that can be used in diverse business situations. This book contains valuable techniques on multiple topics such as marketing, interviewing, team-building, and brainstorming. You will learn how McKinsey consultants sell without selling or how they start research, make a team work more productive, and present their findings to clients.
3. HBR’s 10 Must Reads: On Strategy by HBR (2011)
HBR’s book contains 10 essays on organizational strategy that are written by experts in strategic management. This book begins by explaining what strategy is and then focuses on the best practices and robust techniques in defining, creating, and implementing a strategy. For instance, these articles show how to find a niche, creating a blue ocean strategy or how to measure the progress of strategy implementation, using the Balanced Scorecard method. Moreover, the authors discuss the effective allocation of resources and the prioritization of strategic goals in enhancing organizational performance.
4. The Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors by Michael E. Porter (2004)
You are probably familiar with Porter’s diamond and five forces that help to conduct competitive analysis. If you want to delve into this topic, The Competitive Strategy book is the perfect way to do it. In this book, Michael Porter captures the complexity of industry competition in five underlying forces and introduces three general strategies that can attain a competitive advantage. Specifically, these strategies include cost leadership, differentiation, and market segmentation (or focus). Although, a lot has changed since the book was written, it still remains relevant to understand strategy from a broad perspective.
5. Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne (2015)
Blue Ocean Strategy is a global bestseller that challenges traditional postulates of strategic success. Based on a study of 150 strategic moves (spanning more than 100 years across 30 industries), professors of Strategy at INSEAD claim that lasting success comes not from battling competitors but from creating “blue oceans” or finding untapped new market spaces for growth. The book describes a systematic approach to make the competition irrelevant and presents tools that can be used by any organization to capture their own blue oceans.
6. Strategy Safari: The complete guide through the wilds of strategic management by Henry Mintzberg, Bruce Ahlstrand, Joseph B. Lampel (2nd Edition)
Strategy Safari is one of the handbooks of many successful managers and an excellent guide to the practice of strategy that is included in the best MBA programs around the world. While reading this book, you will learn about ten existing schools of strategic management and gain a better understanding of why the wrong strategy might kill even the most successful companies.
7. Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers by Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur (2010)
Business Model Generation features practical innovation techniques that are used today by leading consultants and companies worldwide, including Google, IBM, Ericsson, and others. It explains the most common Business Model patterns, based on concepts from leading business thinkers, and helps to get a general strategic picture of business quickly and easily. Reading this handbook for strategists and innovators, you will find out how to systematically understand, design, and implement a game-changing business model or analyze and renovate an old one.
Admittedly, reading books is not enough to be aware of emerging techniques for solving business problems or influencing trends that might change industries. The following list contains sources with industry analysis, case studies, and frameworks that were developed by leading consulting companies. These sources can be used to find inspiration for your thesis topic or to expand erudition, getting relevant information about topics you are interested in.
- BCG: Our Latest Thinking on Strategy
- McKinsey: Feature Insights
- Deloitte: Insights
- Accenture: Insights
- Pwc: Insights
Finally, in order to make reading a daily habit, it is useful to keep a habit tracker that you can print and hang on the wall. Alternatively, there are a lot of simple and free habit tracking apps like HabitBull or Productive. Here you will find a free printable habit tracker.
ChannelsOnline Committee wishes you a Happy New Year! May this year bring new achievements, a lot of inspirations, and happiness in your life!