Alliance Management Expertise, Partnering Frameworks and Tools, Collaborative Leadership

Strategic Thinking and Partnering Books to Add to Your Summer Reading List
1. Partnering Guide / June 30th, 2014     A+ | a-
AUTHOR: Jeff Shuman

We have travelling quite a bit lately. One of the few benefits of long-range travel is that it gives me a chance to catch up on my reading! Here are a few more books to add to your summer reading list - -this time on strategic thinking and partnering.

The first is ELEVATE: The Three Disciplines of Advanced Strategic Thinking, by Rich Horwath, Wiley publisher. In today’s fast-paced business environment, the shelf-life of a corporate strategy is about two to three years and shrinking. Thus, the ability to think strategically as a catalyst for new ideas and future business opportunities is the key to long-term success. Unfortunately, recent research studies have concluded that many CEOs and senior executives tend to focus on the present rather than the future of their companies.

Every business leader needs to be strategic – their career depends on it. The good news for the aspiring C-level executive is that unlike most books on strategy that focus on the enterprise, Elevate empowers the individual strategic leader. Horwath provides a roadmap to reach the “strategic leadership summit.” The frameworks and tools Horwath shares integrate both strategy and innovation into an overarching approach that can help a leader implement his or her visions for success.

Horwath defines strategy as “The intelligent allocation of limited resources through a unique system of activities to outperform the competition in serving customers.” His framework is based on what he refers to as the three disciplines of advanced strategic thinking:

  1. Coalesce: Fusing together insights to create an innovative business model
  2. Compete: Creating a system of strategy to achieve competitive advantage
  3. Champion: Leading others to think and act strategically to execute strategy

Elevate is a good book but in my view the author doesn’t sufficiently acknowledge that success today is all about being better in the eyes of the customer, not merely better than the competition and that it increasingly takes a network of partners to achieve that success.

On the other hand, Strategic Partnering: Remove Chance and Deliver Consistent Success, by Luc, Raphaël and Guillaume Bardin, Kogan Page publisher, is based on the premise that partnering is central to most companies’ strategies today. In our work, we see that in many companies today it isn’t much of a stretch to say that the partnering strategy is the corporate strategy, given the importance placed on partnering. However, too many companies haven’t aligned their partnering and corporate strategies. Even more don’t realize an explicit partnering strategy is essential when they want partnering to drive growth. If companies are to partner successfully they need to understand “how” to do so. Strategic Partnering presents unique insights through groundbreaking interviews with the Chairmen, Chief Executives and senior executives of leading global organizations such as General Electric, Toyota, Linde, BHP Billiton, the UK Government, WPP and many others. In addition to the insight-rich interviews, the authors:

  • Introduce their model for successful strategic partnering

  • Provide methods and techniques to employ throughout most of the partnering lifecycle – from partner selection through to mutual value creation

  • Claim their methods are guaranteed to achieve “100 percent success” and “remove chance”

While I doubt their claim of removing chance, I really like the numerous step-by-step processes and tools that are incorporated into every chapter. These not only tie the examples and key executive quotes to the authors’ model but make it easy for the reader to put into practice. It is a worthwhile read.

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