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March 22, 2002

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - Making Sense of Strategy

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 10:00 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Making Sense of Strategy by Tony Manning, AMACOM, 98 Pages, $19.95, Hardcover, April 2002, ISBN 0814471560
Strategy made simple, this is. Tony Manning presents his 10 principles to us right off the bat, before the table of contents, before the introduction. An example? If you dont make a difference, you dont matter. Another? You cant make a difference to everyone. And finally? .Your message must be compelling, simple, clear, and believeable, or you wont sell it. It must also be complex and challenging, or no one will buy it. And it must be repeated with relentless consistency. As if 98 pages isnt brief enough, Manning highlights the most important messages in each chapter, and adds some additional separate-from-the text declarations when he really wants to make a point.
Perhaps the most hands-on section of the book is Chapter 3s Design Your Business Model. Manning presents us with the 7Ps, the substance of your value proposition. PURPOSE is the center and from it these others extend: philosophies, positioning, partners, processes, people & products. Then, he enumerates 7 questions you must ask of your company. For example: What is your business purpose?; What products do you sell; What kind of people do you hire? and so on. This is a very helpful tool for understanding your business and how to plan your strategy. Manning also offers us ways to create the conversation needed to buoy up your strategic theory.
Manning makes it clear that strategy is only half the battle, and, in such a volatile business climate, is often obsolete before it ever really gets off the ground. The danger is to over-strategize, and under-act. The real importance of strategy lies in its implementation and buoyancy. How to keep your strategy fresh and in the forefront? Manning stresses conversation above all in the creation, implementation and continued success of strategy. He asserts that it is conversation that stimulates ideas, enforces processes, stresses themes and helps move theory into practice. He writes: When people dont talk about the right things and dont talk about them constantly, creatively, and constructivelythings quickly come unglued. In other words, strategy isnt just for the top brass; instead strategy must be shared with the employees so as to create company-wide action, because it is the implementation of strategy that is difficult. This kind of communication aids spirit, another essential key to strategy. Your employees must be committed and enthusiastic, 100% behind the success of the companys strategy.
Chapter 4, Conclusion, contains a fine review of each of Mannings main points, and finishes up with 20 strategy questions you can use to clear your strategic thinking. This books strength really relies on its hands-on approach and its brevity, neither of which most strategic theory books offer, and thats why Im recommending it here. Is this book the antidote for all your strategic theory woes as Manning declares in his introduction? Well, as Manning rightly reminds us, being armed with the right questions, and then having the right conversations is your best first step.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.