Books reviews

Famous or interesting books about investments and finance, reviewed in a throrough and balanced manner.

“What is Strategy? An Illustrated Guide to Michael Porter” by Joan Magretta, A Harvard Business Review Press Title – Book Essentials

What is Strategy?

A HBR Press Title Book Essentials

Strategy is notoriously difficult to explain.the most famous business thinkers are still struggling to convey to the Boardrooms what they think the strategy should be. Yet, as the countless courses, consultants and breakdowns demonstrate, the strategy is often properly understood.

This is why this HBR illustrated book is actually a keeper. “What is Strategy? An Illustrated Guide to Michael Porter”, written by Joan Magretta, does a great job of bringing strategy down to Earth. “What is Strategy?” decomposes all of the elements envisioned by Michael Porter since 1980s and re-assembles them in visual style. Think of it as one of the best business graphical novels ever put on paper. Or as the most worked-on strategy power point presentation brought to you. Add to it a light-hearted, interactive visual style – and voila, you have a reference, easy to use guide to strategy.

This does not mean that the illustrated guide to Michael Porter’s idea is for children. It is not even beginners’ exclusive. The guide looks detailed enough to be used by any experienced person as a quick reference guide or, why not, as a strategy concepts refresher. For example, it starts with a depiction of the the executive team that goes into the boardroom. This description serves two purposes:

– to introduce the characters that play different roles in the business world and

– to describe the most common roles in the C-suite – what does each do and what are their responsibilities.Read More »“What is Strategy? An Illustrated Guide to Michael Porter” by Joan Magretta, A Harvard Business Review Press Title – Book Essentials

“When More Is Not Better: Overcoming America’s Obsession With Economic Efficiency” by Roger L. Martin, a HBR Press Review – Book Essentials

Roger L Martin The win-win American capitalism might be skewed towards extremes, leaving the middle exposed. Roger L. Martin, a famous strategy professor, decided to take a new look at this “democratic capitalism” model. More importantly, he takes on a journey on how we can fix it. How well is Martin faring?

“When More Is Not Better – Overcoming America’s Obsession with Economic Efficiency” crosses the border of the WIFM business books. It might even become one of those titles that made famous the Chicago tribune economists – and propelled them in the driving seat of America’s economic policies. For a few decades, the US economy was transformed (at least conceptually) in a money making machine. Well, we all know the problems with the machines, do we?:

– their behavior is deemed predictable;

– they function constantly, based on well-known principles;

– the machines cannot learn and certainly cannot adapt to new ever-changing reality factors.

Read More »“When More Is Not Better: Overcoming America’s Obsession With Economic Efficiency” by Roger L. Martin, a HBR Press Review – Book Essentials

“Strategic Analytics – the Insights You Need” Handbook from HBR Press – Book Essentials Review

Strategic Analytics – the Insights You Need”

Analyzing the future available options strains every individual. “Strategic Analytics – the Insights You Need” takes the strategy at the next level. Curated and assembled by editors and authors from Harvard Business Review, “Strategic Analytics” puts together a pretty rounded picture on the hot topic of summarizing your organizational possibilities.

Analyzing the strategic options and their implementation results for a company is exponentially more difficult. Most organisations decide themselves on embarking on a data journey, yet the resources (hardware, software and people) are not there. And even if you arranged all your resources properly, many companies fail to deliver results at the right pace. 

What are the usual ingredients for a successful strategic analytics implementation?:

** Data and technology

Whilst usually data is there, organizations need to put in place processes to make sense of it. Every transaction with a customer is an opportunity to learn how to better serve the needs 

** The right talent and skill-set

Analysing and transforming the terrabites of customer and market data takes talent and experience. They are hard to find and need usually serious nurturing.Read More »“Strategic Analytics – the Insights You Need” Handbook from HBR Press – Book Essentials Review

“Unleashed: The Unapologetic Leader’s Guide to Empowering Everyone Around You” by Frances X. Frei and Anne Morriss – Book Essentials

How should a leader be? What is your favorite CEO style?:

** A CEO that is polite, accepting most of the team’s excuses and under pressure from the Board?

OR

** One that is polite, tough and relatively fair, difficult to work with and well perceived by the Board?

“Unleashed: The Unapologetic Leader’s Guide to Empowering Everyone Around You” came in June 2020 to change a bit our views on the efficient leadership styles. There has been much written on the topic of efficient leadership, especially at the CEO level.

The general research literature agrees overall on several traits of an effective leader:

– she gets results…

– … Without damaging the team…

– … Empowers others without giving up control…

– … And overall creates an organisation admires by customers and competitors.

Frances Frei and Anne Morriss offer in their new book a different perspective. Your success as a leader is directly proportional with your ability to unleash the maximum potential in those around you. This leadership potential depends on how far and smart are you empowering the others around you. Of course, this is just an ingredient of an organizations’ success – ultimately no company can survive only on good leadership skills.Read More »“Unleashed: The Unapologetic Leader’s Guide to Empowering Everyone Around You” by Frances X. Frei and Anne Morriss – Book Essentials

“The Context Marketing Revolution – How To Motivate Buyers in the Age of Infinite Media” by Mathhew Sweezey – A HBR Press Book Essentials Review

The Context Marketing Revolution – How To Motivate Buyers in the Age of Infinite Media

“The Context Marketing Revolution”, the new HBR Press marketing title, looks at how the marketing should change in the brave new digital world, in order to become more:

    • effective, i.e. reach the future consumer,
    • efficient, i.e. reach ONLY the future consumers, not bother other audiences, and
    • efforts-economical, i.e. not drain the company’s coffers (and fill the FANG accounts) in the process.

Did the new HBR Press title achieve its goals? Read on to find out my views on it :).

What is true about the relatively new digital distribution channels:

  1. Leaves most marketeers scratching their heads: where are the consumers hidden? What do they read today? What are they moved of?
  2. Are super-fickle: what works this year will not work in the next. Period.
  3. Are super-tangled with the digital actors strategies. I call this “The Big Noise” (copyright R.H. 2020). The channels themselves are banging the drums and changing the marketo-speech so much, that it becomes really hard to distinguish what really works and with is digi-hype.

What is FALSE for the new digital distribution / comm. channels:

F1. They will work for every type of product. WRONG. Nobody buys a flat or toothpaste only after watching a couple of testimonials on YouTube. Or if they do, they are a minority.Read More »“The Context Marketing Revolution – How To Motivate Buyers in the Age of Infinite Media” by Mathhew Sweezey – A HBR Press Book Essentials Review

“HBRs 10 Must Reads – On Negotiation” – a HBR Press Book Review

Negotiation should be a skill everybody masters. And this is exactly the problem – everybody’s reasonably  good at it. So how are you better than a skilled crowd? “HBRs 10 Must Reads – On Negotiation” attempts to equip us better to answer these questions. The HBR magazine’s editors combed their huge library and selected 10 of their best articles on negotiation, then updated them and published them in this handbook.

Harvard Business Review Press comes in with not one, but multiple answers. The publishing house started around 2012 a new book series: “HBR’s 10 Must Reads”. Essentially these books are a “beat of” Harvard Business Review articles on a certain topic. Even better than the magazine itself – these articles are curated by some of the best business editors around.

I was always feeling sub-marginal after my major negotiations. Salary negotiations left me with a feeling I could have done more. Job changes involve a constant haggling around, usually accelerated by a binding offer. Projects end up with some parties feeling unhappy – either the customers or the suppliers. And yet all these were discussed, adjusted and agreed – so why would anyone want to revisit them? Read More »“HBRs 10 Must Reads – On Negotiation” – a HBR Press Book Review

“Out-Innovate – How Global Entrepreneurs from Delhi to Detroit Are Rewriting the Rules of Silicon Valley” by Alexandre Lazarow – a HBR Press Book Review

Start-ups are changing too – the new frontier lies far beyond Silicon Valley. So how can a small Asian low-cost start-up out-mqneuver the Silicon Valley micro-cosmos? How can a small fintech from Phillipines out-innovate the major incumbents, from Apple Pay to Revolut?

“Out-innovate: How Global Entrepreneurs–from Delhi to Detroit–Are Rewriting the Rules of Silicon Valley” looks at the critical success factors. Not only do the small start-ups go at superior speeds to market, but they also:

** Go faster on a global market scale,

** Create superior offerings for the bottom of the pyramid,

** Cost the investors much less and

** Stay lean and hungry.

The author Alexandre Lazarow is no stranger to these non-incumbent start-ups. As a venture capitalist himself, he has travelled around the globe and met start-ups on four continents. Read More »“Out-Innovate – How Global Entrepreneurs from Delhi to Detroit Are Rewriting the Rules of Silicon Valley” by Alexandre Lazarow – a HBR Press Book Review