30th March 2012: Reading List on Strategy

David Allen. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. New York: Penguin, 2001. TS-1. Allen’s GTD productivity framework is popular in Silicon Valley as a ‘medial’ trend. This book provides an overview to the GTD methodology and some insights into the cognitive psychology of how and why it works.

Peter Schwartz. The Art of the Long View: Planning for the Future in an Uncertain World. New York: Currency Doubleday, 1991. TS-3. The classic guide to the Global Business Network’s methodology for scenario planning. Provides insights on generating scenarios and having strategic conversations. Schwartz’s follow-up book Inevitable Surprises (London: The Free Press, 2003) distilled his insights on ‘medial’ and global trends. For a comparator, on strategic inflection points, see Andrew S. Grove’s Only The Paranoid Survive (revised edition) (New York: Currency, 1999).

Peter M. Senge. The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organisation (revised edition). London: Random House, 2006. TS-1. Senge popularized MIT research into systems thinking and his framework for the ‘learning organisation’ helped to shape knowledge management and organizational psychology. The other disciplines include ‘personal mastery’, ‘mental models’, ‘shared vision’ and ‘team learning’.

Jeffrey K. Liker. The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles From The World’s Greatest Manufacturer. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2004. TS-3. The first in Liker’s management book series on the Toyota Production System and lean management frameworks. This book bridges corporate strategy, operations and project management on how to avoid ‘muda’ or waste. Liker also adopted Peter Senge’s ‘learning organisation’ framework. Subsequent books in Liker’s series have dealt with culture, teams, innovation, and similar topics.

Henry Mintzberg, Bruce Ahlstrand & Joseph Lampel. Strategy Safari: A Guided Tour Through the Wilds of Strategic Management. New York: The Free Press, 1998. TS-4. Mintzberg is a provocative thinker who has influenced the craft of corporate strategy. Strategy Safari details ten different schools of thought and how they shape strategic thinking. If you plan to work in corporate strategy, all of Mintzberg’s books are highly recommended.

Richard A. Slaughter, Sohail Inayatullah, & Jose M. Ramos (Eds.). Knowledge Base of Futures Studies: Professional Edition. Indooroopilly: Foresight International, 2005). TS-1. A resource for futures studies and strategic foresight practitioners on the meta-discipline’s history, theorists, methodologies, and recent advances. This is used as introductory material in Swinburne University’s Masters program on strategic foresight. I contributed a couple of student essays on ‘Futures Studies As An Art’, ‘Business Intelligence’, and some personal GBM reflections (at the time).

Avinash K. Dixit & Barry J. Nalebuff. The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist’s Guide to Success in Business and Life. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010. TS-3. A primer on game theory and how it can inform decision-making. Dixit and Nalebuff explore how to think ahead in competitive situations and outline decision trees and other methods. On game theorist John Nash, see Ron Howard’s film A Beautiful Mind (2001).

Alistair Cockburn. Agile Software Development: The Cooperative Game (2nd ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2007. TS-4. This is a guidebook to agile software development that elaborates further on themes explored by Allen, Liker, and Senge. Cockburn reinterprets many different theorists and frameworks, notably Miyamoto Musashi’s Book of Five Rings. Filled with insights on strategy, collaborative teams, and methodology design and implementation.

Peter Block. Flawless Consulting: A Guide To Getting Your Expertise Used (3rd edition). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2011. TS-1. Block was a student of the organizational theorist Chris Argyris who popularized ‘double loop’ learning. This is the classic, influential guide to consulting and the steps usually taken in organizational contexts. Block reaches parallel conclusions to Senge on the role of humanistic philosophy and systems thinking in consulting engagements.

Peter Paret (Ed.). Makers of Modern Strategy: From Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986. TS-4. A classic anthology on military and grand strategy in the war college tradition. For a recent academic study, see Beatrice Heuser’s The Evolution of Strategy: Thinking War from Antiquity to the Present (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).