Suggested Reading

The following books represent several of the most highly-regarded works on the subjects of competitive strategy, strategy execution and change management. In addition to their reputation among leading scholars, advisors and practitioners, the books included in this list each offer the reader tangible and immediately-actionable tools and techniques. In addition to the books listed below, professor Barnwell also recommends Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done (New York: Crown Books, 2002) and Confronting Reality: Doing What Matters to Get Things Right (New York: Crown Books, 2004) both by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan.

Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance
By Michael E. Porter

The essential complement to the pathbreaking book Competitive Strategy, Michael E. Porter's Competitive Advantage explores the underpinnings of competitive advantage in the individual firm. With over 30 printings in English and translated into thirteen languages, this second volume in Porter's landmark trilogy describes how a firm actually gains an advantage over its rivals. Competitive Advantage introduces a whole new way of understanding what a firm does. Porter's groundbreaking concept of the value chain disaggregates a company into "activities," or the discrete functions or processes that represent the elemental building blocks of competitive advantage.

Now an essential part of international business thinking, Competitive Advantage takes strategy from broad vision to an internally consistent configuration of activities. Its powerful framework provides the tools to understand the drivers of cost and a company's relative cost position. Porter's value chain enables managers to isolate the underlying sources of buyer value that will command a premium price, and the reasons why one product or service substitutes for another. He shows how competitive advantage lies not only in activities themselves but in the way activities relate to each other, to supplier activities, and to customer activities. Competitive Advantage also provides for the first time the tools to strategically segment an industry and rigorously assess the competitive logic of diversification.

That the phrases "competitive advantage" and "sustainable competitive advantage" have become commonplace is testimony to the power of Porter's ideas. Competitive Advantage has guided countless companies, business school students, and scholars in understanding the roots of competition. Porter's work captures the extraordinary complexity of competition in a way that makes strategy both concrete and actionable.

Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries & Competitors
By Michael E. Porter

Now nearing its 60th printing in English and translated into nineteen languages, Michael E. Porter's Competitive Strategy has transformed the theory, practice, and teaching of business strategy throughout the world. Electrifying in its simplicity -- like all great breakthroughs -- Porter's analysis of industries captures the complexity of industry competition in five underlying forces. Porter introduces one of the most powerful competitive tools yet developed: his three generic strategies -- lowest cost, differentiation, and focus -- which bring structure to the task of strategic positioning. He shows how competitive advantage can be defined in terms of relative cost and relative prices, thus linking it directly to profitability, and presents a whole new perspective on how profit is created and divided. In the almost two decades since publication, Porter's framework for predicting competitor behavior has transformed the way in which companies look at their rivals and has given rise to the new discipline of competitor assessment.

More than a million managers in both large and small companies, investment analysts, consultants, students, and scholars throughout the world have internalized Porter's ideas and applied them to assess industries, understand competitors, and choose competitive positions. The ideas in the book address the underlying fundamentals of competition in a way that is independent of the specifics of the ways companies go about competing.

Competitive Strategy has filled a void in management thinking. It provides an enduring foundation and grounding point on which all subsequent work can be built. By bringing a disciplined structure to the question of how firms achieve superior profitability, Porter's rich frameworks and deep insights comprise a sophisticated view of competition unsurpassed in the last quarter-century.

Leading Change
By John P. Kotter

Harvard Business School professor Kotter (A Force for Change) breaks from the mold of M.B.A. jargon-filled texts to produce a truly accessible, clear and visionary guide to the business world's buzzword for the late '90s?change. In this excellent business manual, Kotter emphasizes a comprehensive eight-step framework that can be followed by executives at all levels. Kotter advises those who would implement change to foster a sense of urgency within the organization. "A higher rate of urgency does not imply everpresent panic, anxiety, or fear. It means a state in which complacency is virtually absent." Twenty-first century business change must overcome overmanaged and underled cultures. "Because management deals mostly with the status quo and leadership deals mostly with change, in the next century we are going to have to try to become much more skilled at creating leaders." Kotter also identifies pitfalls to be avoided, like "big egos and snakes" or personalities that can undermine a successful change effort. Kotter convincingly argues for the promotion and recognition of teams rather than individuals. He aptly concludes with an emphasis on lifelong learning. "In an ever changing world, you never learn it all, even if you keep growing into your '90s." Leading Change is a useful tool for everyone from business students preparing to enter the work force to middle and senior executives faced with the widespread transformation in the corporate world.

Executing Your Strategy: How To Break It Down and Get it Done
By Mark Morgan, Raymond E. Levitt and William A. Malek

Why do businesses consistently fail to execute their competitive strategies? Because leaders don't identify and invest in the full range of projects and programs required to align the organization with its strategy. Moreover, even when strategy makers do break their plans down into doable chunks, they seldom work with project leaders to prioritize strategic investments and assure that needed resources are applied in priority order. And they often neglect to revise the strategic portfolio to fit the demands of a dynamic environment, or to stay connected to strategic projects through completion, as new products, services, skills and capabilities are transferred into operations.

In Executing Your Strategy, Mark Morgan, Raymond Levitt, and William Malek present six imperatives that enable you to do the right strategic projects--and do those projects right. And it is no accident that the six imperatives combine to create the acronym INVEST:

Ideation: Clarify and communicate Purpose, Identity and Long Range Intention

Nature: Develop alignment between Strategy, Structure and Culture based on Ideation

Vision: Create clear Goals and Metrics aligned to Strategy and guided by Ideation

Engagement: Do the right projects based on the Strategy through Portfolio management

Synthesis: Do Projects and Programs right, in alignment with Portfolio

Transition: Move the Project and Program outputs into Operations where benefit is realized

Full of intriguing company examples and practical advice, this crucial new resource shows you how to make strategy happen in your organization

The Execution Premium: Linking Strategy to Operations for Competitive Advantage
By Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton

In a world of stiffening competition, business strategy is more crucial than ever. Yet most organizations struggle in this area--not with formulating strategy but with executing it, or putting their strategy into action. Owing to execution failures, companies realize just a fraction of the financial performance promised in their strategic plans.

It doesn't have to be that way, maintain Robert Kaplan and David Norton in The Execution Premium. Building on their breakthrough works on strategy-focused organizations, the authors describe a multistage system that enables you to gain measurable benefits from your carefully formulated business strategy. This book shows you how to: (i) Develop an effective strategy--with tools such as SWOT analysis, vision formulation, and strategic change agendas; (ii) Plan execution of the strategy--through portfolios of strategic initiatives linked to strategy maps and Balanced Scorecards; (iii) Put your strategy into action--by integrating operational tools such as process dashboards, rolling forecasts, and activity-based costing; and (iv) Test and update your strategy--using carefully designed management meetings to review operational and strategic data.

Drawing on extensive research and detailed case studies from a broad array of industries, The Execution Premium presents a systematic and proven framework for achieving the financial results promised by your strategy.

Robert S. Kaplan is the Baker Foundation Professor at the Harvard Business School. He has been a codeveloper of both activity-based costing and the Balanced Scorecard. David P. Norton is a founder and director of the Palladium Group, a consultancy focusing on strategy execution, and is codeveloper of the Balanced Scorecard.

Making Strategy Work: Leading Effective Execution and Change
By Lawrence G. Hrebiniak

Without effective execution, no business strategy can succeed. Unfortunately, most managers know far more about developing strategy than about executing it -- and overcoming the difficult political and organizational obstacles that stand in their way. In this book, leading consultant and Wharton professor Lawrence Hrebiniak offers the first comprehensive, disciplined process model for making strategy work in the real world. Drawing on his unsurpassed experience, Hrebiniak shows why execution is even more important than many senior executives realize, and sheds powerful new light on why businesses fail to deliver on even their most promising strategies. Next, he offers a systematic roadmap for execution that encompasses every key success factor: organizational structure, coordination, information sharing, incentives, controls, change management, culture, and the role of power and influence in your business. Making Strategy Work concludes with a start-to-finish case study showing how to use Hrebeniak's ideas to address one of today's most difficult business execution challenges: ensuring the success of a merger or acquisition.

Rapid Transformation: A 90-Day Plan for Fast and Effective Change
By Behnam N. Tabrizi

Profound organizational transformation takes years and, in most cases is unsuccessful, right? Not according to change expert Behnam Tabrizi. In Rapid Transformation: A 90-Day Plan for Fast and Effective Change, Tabrizi shows you how to accomplish successful transformational change in your firm in just 90 days. Based on ten years of research into more than 500 leading companies including 3M, IBM, GE, Nissan, Apple, Bay Networks, Verisign, HP and Best Buy this book demystifies fast, effective change and lays out a clear roadmap for achieving it.

Tabrizi's 90-day transformational model comprises three main phases, each lasting 30 days. The model enables you to analyze your company's specific challenge, develop a new course of action, and carry out the plan. Moreover, you apply the model in parallel with the normal workings of your organization so you don't have to put your company on hold for the sake of the change effort.

With its detailed recipe and insightful stories from actual corporate reinventions, this book defies long-held assumptions about change and provides a practical and immediately actionable guide.