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May 31, 2012

News & Opinion: The Strategist

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 7:53 PM – Filed under: Leadership & Strategy

Strategy is a common topic in business. From business schools to books to boardrooms, the 'how' of strategy is often discussed. But Cynthia Montgomery's new book, The Strategist: Be the Leader Your Business Needs takes a different approach: Strategy in terms of who does it. According to Montgomery, nothing about the vital role of the strategist has been written in the last 30 years. She explains the importance of bringing this focus back:
It was classic Shakespeare: As a field, we had hoisted ourselves on our own petard. We had demoted strategy from the top of the organization to a specialist function. Chasing a new ideal, we had lost sight of the value of what we had - the richness of judgment, the continuity of purpose, the will to commit an organization to a particular path. With all good intentions, we had backed strategy into a narrow corner and reduced it to a left-brain exercise. In doing so, we lost much of its vitality and much of its connection to the day-to-day life of a company, and we lost sight of what it takes to lead the effort.
An acclaimed professor at Harvard Business School, Montgomery spent months putting together case discussions, after-hours talks, and executive strategy dilemmas to illuminate what strategy is, and how it is best handled by people with strategy as an integral part of their role. By looking at this information, leaders can develop the skills and sensibilities they need to become strategists themselves.
Before, they say, they thought about strategy as a set of problems to be solved - the way it is so often approached in both practice and school. Now, however, they're thinking about strategy as a way of life for themselves as a leader, a set of questions to be lived.
This book is an important read for anyone in a leadership role, to help them define, communicate, and live according to their strategic plan to create alignment, purpose, and success.