A Bibliophile’s Book List for Strategic Success

Over the years, business leaders and inquisitive minds have tried to understand the inner workings of successful strategists and companies. Strategy is a necessary part of society and humanity and always has been. Even the very endeavor of survival takes strategic action, especially throughout history. Thanks to those who have striven for strategic success, we have great literature outlining different methods of strategy. Let’s take a look at some of the best books on strategy.

The Art of War

“The Art of War” is a written work surrounding ancient Chinese military. Written by military strategist Sun Tzu in 5th century BC, “The Art of War” is composed of thirteen chapters, each one dedicated to a different element of warfare and its relation to overall military strategy. The piece has influenced military and business strategy all around the globe and has become a gem in the business world and to many successful strategic leaders. “The Art of War” covers many aspects of successful leadership including management, the leadership of a team, training and more. Some Japanese companies require their executives to read and study the text as part of their entrance. While the subject matter focuses heavily on military strategy, so many timeless parallels have been drawn in business, legalities and even sports. “…Football games are won before players ever take the field,” says NFL coach Bill Belichick, “An opponent’s weakness should be exploited. Preparation can make victory a self-fulfilling prophecy.” This belief stems from “The Art of War,” to which Belichick accredits many of his coaching tactics.

Blue Ocean Strategy

“Blue Ocean Strategy” is a global bestselling book by experts Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne. Kim and Mauborgne share provoking ways to approach competition and success based on more than a decade of research of 150 strategic moves throughout history. A bestseller across five continents, the book challenges the way we think about and understand success in a competitive environment or market. Rather than trying to beat existing competitors in a common market, Kim and Mauborgne suggest that success is found in strategic innovation that leads to a new demand within a market, extending beyond the highly competitive, overcrowded space in which many organizations find themselves stuck. This overcrowded market is called a red ocean – a result of the blood drawn by brutal competition. The goal of the text is to help thought leaders move their organizations into blue oceans created from what Kim and Mauborgne call “value innovation.” Bestselling author and entrepreneur, Tony Robbins speaks to the benefit of “Blue Ocean Strategy,” “If you do what everyone else does, and you do it better than everybody else, you get a tiny competitive advantage. But if you do something no one else is doing in your space, if you create a blue ocean, you get a gigantic advantage.”

The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done

“The Effective Executive” by Peter Drucker was originally published in 1966. In this guide to productivity and success as a strategic business leader, Drucker emphasizes the need for structured thought and, as the title suggests, focusing on accomplishing the right things and eliminating ineffective habits. Without this structured thought, innovation, creativity and even brilliance can all be for naught. Drucker was one of the most influential thinkers in organizational and business management and strategy. His works live on and continue to improve companies and their leaders.

There is so much to be learned from great minds throughout history who dared to study strategy.  Above are just a few classics to add to your book list in the new year. These and many other books have shifted the way we view and execute leadership and strategic management.