The Lords of Strategy

  • by Walter Kiechel
  • Narrated by Robertson Dean
  • 11 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Imagine running a business without a strategy. It would be akin to driving blindfolded, to building a house without a blueprint. Yet just 50 years ago, business “plans” were mere extrapolations of the status quo, heedless of the forces that determine the fate of today’s organizations: competitive threats, customer needs, and business costs. The concept of strategy changed all that, paving the way for the creation of the modern corporate world.
The Lords of Strategy recounts the birth and evolution of strategy — arguably the most influential business paradigm of the past half century — and the trials and triumphs of the surprising disruptors who invented it. Principal among them were four men: Bruce Henderson, found of the Boston Consulting Group; Bill Bain, creator of Bain & Company; Fred Gluck, longtime managing director of McKinsey & Company; and Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter. Each was obsessed with pinpointing how companies achieve competitive advantage over others. This insider account reveals these industry’s pioneers as “idea junkies” - a new breed of intellectuals who wielded concepts as weapons for fighting business battles. Their relentless efforts to plumb the depths of competition exploded much of the prevailing wisdom, galvanized executives into action, and forced companies to understand themselves as never before.
An important book by one of management’s keenest observers, The Lords of Strategy provides listeners with a deeper understanding of the world they compete in and a sharper eye for what works — and what doesn’t — when forging strategy.

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What the Critics Say

“[Kiechel’s] ‘The Lords of Strategy’ is a clear, deft and cogent portrait of what the author calls the most powerful business idea of the past half-century." (The Wall Street Journal)
"Kiechel has done a real service…in bringing his subject to life. The book serves as a primer as well as a history, and as such almost any executive or B-school student would do well to pick it up.” (The Conference Board Review)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Super Book of Narrow Interest

Essentially, this book examines the arguments about the value of business strategy though the lense of management history. The author follows the progression of strategic thinking to the present. The work of consultants and academics building theory is all here. I have been familiar with the strategic models and literature for a number of yours, but this volume puts a real face on the entire process. Troubling is the influence of a handful of academics and consultants on contemporary business thinking. I just had not thought of the evolution of strategic thought in this context.

This is a great book, well written and expertly read by Robertson Dean. Anyone who works in business will benefit by listening to this one with one caveat. If you are familiar with the basic strategic planning models (Five Forces, BCG Matrix, etc) you will do fine. If not, you will benefit, perhaps,l more by reading the paper copy.
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- Roy

A History of Business Strategy Consulting

The book is a rather linear history of business strategy. It starts with roughly a chapter for each of the great contributors to the field (i.e., each of the ???lords of strategy???). But as the time-line progresses the story becomes more fractured with fewer ???Lords??? and many lesser contestants in the market place of ideas. Presumably this is corresponds to the real world, but the result is that the book undergoes a gradual change in style, ending with a very different style than it starts.

The book argues that the big Boston consulting firms were at the heart of this story. This simultaneously seems truer than I had realized and somewhat biased (e.g., where does Stanford and Silicon Valley fit in to this story).

Some of the history was not well known to me and I suspect is not widely known.

Readers looking for context will rate this book higher (e.g., 5 stars). Reader looking for more than context will probably rate the book lower (e.g., 3 stars).
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- Kenneth

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-05-2010
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio