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The Strategist: Be the Leader Your Business Needs

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  374 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
Based on an acclaimed professor's legendary strategy course at Harvard Business School, The Strategist offers a radically new perspective on a leader's most vital role.

"Are you a strategist?" That's the first question Cynthia Montgomery asks the business owners and senior executives from all over the world who participate in her highly regarded executive education course.
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published May 8th 2012 by HarperBusiness (first published January 1st 2012)
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Grant Xavier Storer
Sep 20, 2016 Grant Xavier Storer rated it it was ok
Shelves: business
Good material, except I heard it better from "Start With Why". This approach of finding your core identity and building your business on that basis was way too academic and not really that reader friendly. Start With Why was probably the most influential book I've ever read, so reading it again in this version was very disappointing.
Alex Timberman
Mar 11, 2015 Alex Timberman rated it really liked it
Shelves: management, strategy
Cynthia Montgomery is a professor at the Harvard Business School. She is influenced by another professor there, Michael Porter, and his work on strategy and the 5 forces.

This book is a short read on what strategy is about and on who is responsible for making the strategy: the CEO or business owner.

There is nothing technical or fancy here or even remarkable like say Blue Ocean Strategy but she does a good job of clearly laying out the basics: strategy is about having a compelling purpose for wh
Said Al-Maskery
Sep 13, 2015 Said Al-Maskery rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business-books
This is the second time I read this book and it was worth it. The first time I was shifting careers from a day job in a big company to a family owned business. At the time I felt that this book does give some important insights.

Nearly 2 years down the line, I found the book does have practical aspects in it related to strategy and leadership alike. The author believes the two are inseparable.

Being a strategist is not enough, you need to be the "strategist your company needs", understanding the
Jan 31, 2016 Adek rated it really liked it
Those who’s working in strategy or management consulting will not find a really fancy points here, but this books does a good job of clearly laying out the basics: strategy is about having a compelling purpose for why the firm exists, “If the firm didn't exist anymore would the world care?”. Surprisingly, Montgomery said most leaders in her class are not sure about what their firm purpose is. “If leaders aren’t clear about this, imagine the confusion in the businesses three/four level lower. Yet ...more
Aug 27, 2013 Synexe rated it liked it

A strategist is an organization’s leader who works to ensure that the organization is able to adapt and change over time to maintain its competitive edge. As the author points out, strategy and execution are not two separate endeavours but are instead two-sides of the same coin. The key is balancing these two aspects of an organization’s operations over time. This is how you achieve long-term organizational success.


The book is based on Cynthia Montgomery’s strat
Aug 02, 2015 Siim rated it liked it
This book is based on the strategy course this seasoned professor teaches at Harvard Business School. It reads like it. I know, I've taken strategy courses at business schools. I've always found that the biggest benefits from taking courses in business school are: 1) making important connections, as you toil through cases together with your already successful coursemates, and 2) you are given the chance, the tools and the whip to work on your own company's case.

It serves more to take the course.
John Seno
Oct 19, 2013 John Seno rated it it was amazing
Overtime I've come to the realization that an exceptional business or any enterprise is built around a profound purpose. Traditional strategy tools like SWOT analysis or Porter's five forces are essential but on their own they cannot carry the weight of an enterprise. For that we turn to the vision, to the strategists, to the one's who live strategy and accept it as an Unending way of life. This book is about the Strategist and how to acquire a strategic thinkers perspective. Because in a world ...more
Sep 24, 2012 ftrStrategy rated it liked it
Just finished “The Strategist. Be the Leader Your Business Needs” by Cynthia Montgomery. The examples and content come from Prof Montgomery’s teaching in the “Owner, President, Manager Program (OPM)” at Harvard Business School, where she leads the strategy track. The strategy content is based on (true and tested, but a bit tired) Porterian view of strategy (industry perspective, five forces) and some older, more descriptive material (“Wheel of Strategy”). Montgomery also emphasizes purpose = ...more
Raj Shankar
Wonderful Work on Strategy for Strategists. Enjoyed the book so much that i could not stop finishing it on priority. At times i felt like i was sitting in her class. I think i would re-read it and refer to it more in the future. If you are an entrepreneur, strategist or anyone aspiring to be one, you must not miss it.
Ron Molenda
Jun 25, 2013 Ron Molenda rated it it was amazing
A new classic... I kept nodding my head and wishing that I had read this book before I had to learn its lessons the hard way.
Cara Ellison
Oct 19, 2012 Cara Ellison rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-book, work
The best business book I've read this year, maybe ever. Extremely good.
Gregory Christensen
Nov 28, 2016 Gregory Christensen rated it liked it
Decent stories, some practical advice. I was expecting a bit more, I guess
Dawnena Muth
Oct 29, 2016 Dawnena Muth rated it it was amazing
Incredible tools to help your business
Apr 28, 2016 Matthew rated it liked it
It's important to have a strategy, but you also better have a leader who can make that strategy happen as well. This is what "The Strategist" is all about. Some of the thoughts I underlined as I read were...

"Strategy is not a destination of a solution. It's not a problem to be solved and settled. It's a journey. It needs continuous, not intermittent, leadership. It needs a strategist."

"Good strategies are never frozen- signed, sealed, and delivered. No matter how carefully conceived, or how well
Mu'Iz Salleh
If you like case studies, this book provides it. I like the mixing of role of a strategist, though somewhere in middle I got a little confused between what we understand as a strategist and what a leader is. In my view of what a strategist is, its more to do with how different heads come together to form different strategies, and up to the leader to decide what strategy/ies are workable. Along the line though, the book explained and clarified that clearly. I like how a formulation of a strategy ...more
Jan 20, 2014 pri rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
Very good book on looking at your business from a competitive perspective. I enjoyed the stories of real businesses and how they created their brand and their market share (Ikea especially). However, I was hoping that this book would be more about the role of a strategist within a company. It is truly geared to those at the top - CEO, manager of business, etc. And a lot of the subtext doesn't fit into being an actual strategist advising a portfolio, for example. You can make the connection, of ...more
Jorge Edgar
Feb 23, 2015 Jorge Edgar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dentro de la literatura empresarial, al igual que el business modeling, me parece que es una lectura que debe de leer todo empresario o emprendedor.
Casos como el de Gucci, Masco, Apple e Ikea, el estudioso de la empresa fortalece el criterio y "debería" estructurar la "lógica" de la toma de decisiones y el pensamiento creativo (o al menos los procesos de estímulo) encaminado a la estrategia de la empresa para dar valor (en todas las dimensiones) del negocio y la sociedad (micro o macro).
Buen li
Socrates Chinniah
May 31, 2013 Socrates Chinniah rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Business owners , Management professionals , Management graduates
Must read for Business graduates and Management professionals .

One of the best books written in Strategy . A no non sense approach with the usage of case studies to convey the message . The book is absolutely practical and clearly portrays the difficulty that faces business owners , strategist and top management people. Highly recommended to people who are into business and those in industry who wants to make a difference.
Jun 21, 2016 Romael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Efeito setor - forças do mercado q não dominamos
Efeito empresa - o desempenho individual dentro do setor.
Estratégia é um sistema de criação de valor dirigido por um propósito.
Propósito pq existo?
O que ofereço de singular para o mercado?
A quem eu interesso?
O que seria do mundo se a empresa desaparecesse hoje?
Não existe vantagem competitiva sustentável pois a dinâmica dos negócios evolui e com ele o sistema de criação de valor, a estratégia sustentável é a que antecipa a mudança.
Oct 25, 2015 Boon rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Christophe Druet
What does your company bring to the world? Does that difference matter? Is something about it scarce and difficult to imitate? Are you doing to day what you need to do in order to matter tomorrow? If you can clearly answer these questions, you are on the right track as a strategist. If not and if you wonder how to answer these, you will love this book.
Ricardo Osuna
Feb 23, 2015 Ricardo Osuna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: strategy
Está bueno, el libro. La parte que más me gustó fue el capítulo 6; "Sé el dueño de tu estrategia!", en particular un esquema que maneja Montgomery, que ella llama la rueda de la estrategia. Por lo demás, el libro, a pesar de estar básico, es muy práctico y ameno para aquellos que quieran recordar lo fundamental de los principios estratégicos de Porter.
Sep 23, 2013 Tony rated it it was ok
Basic, common sense info about corporate strategy and corporate purpose. Was expecting to learn a little more about some specific strategies for developing a corporate strategy. I've learned similar things from reading business related blogs.

I was expecting much more from someone who teaches a strategy course at Harvard. I'm just glad I didn't spend the money to attend the course.
Claudia Yahany
Mar 13, 2016 Claudia Yahany rated it it was amazing
Shelves: good-ones
No es un libro sobre estrategia, es un libro sobre liderazgo. Y después de haber estudiado muchos libros de estrategia, es una excelente "conclusión". No se trata de saber qué acciones tomar, sino de la forma en las que observamos, aprendemos y actuamos frente a las decisiones estratégicas. Cada empresa es diferente y cada líder es diferente.
Jaron Roux
Mar 24, 2013 Jaron Roux rated it really liked it
Shelves: personal
Great book, Cynthia Montgomery has tremendous creditials, and I see lot of transfer from the business world to the military. The main takeaway for me is the leader of the organization has to the be strategist! In addition, they have to embrace all that comes with both those titles.
Kathryn Reimer
Jan 25, 2013 Kathryn Reimer rated it really liked it
A lot of business reading tells you what they are going to tell you, tells you and then tells you what they told you. This book used really interesting examples and case studies to get the point across.
May 20, 2015 Alex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An easy read: not too technical or full of jargon.

Similar to good to great (Collins) the author compares companies success and failure in similar situations/markets. Insightful and interesting stories.
OK book about strategy. The author asks you two questions that are worth answering as part of a strategy work: 1) who will notice if you close down your business? 2) how long will it take for them to find a replacement for you?. A good place to start. But then the book got quite boring.
Nov 13, 2015 Melinda rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
There's theory and then there's reality. This is an excellent book about strategy for the real world. Every aspiring business owner needs read this book for a dose of reality before they hang out their shingle.
Aug 15, 2016 Eric rated it really liked it
Very good and useful description of what it means to be a leader beyond managing the status quo. It takes it to the next level, showing how being strategic and willing to completely transform are the true hallmarks of great leaders. Fun to read, and a pretty simple concept that anyone can apply.
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