Looking to gain an edge over your competition? The best place to start is by implementing a management strategy that will handle your hiring, marketing, and technological needs. While there are plenty of online resources available, many of which are free, there’s nothing quite like opening up a book to help you gain new strategic insights and tactics for your upcoming strategic management campaign.
To help narrow down the choices, we've put together a list of 15 strategic management books to help you gain the much-needed competitive edge in this highly competitive world.
Here are the Best Strategy Books for Entrepreneurs and Managers
1. Business Strategy: Managing Uncertainty, Opportunity, and Enterprise by J.C. Spender
Before entering the academic world, J.C. Spender was an account manager and special products planner for Rolls Royce and IBM, as well as a merchant banker working with Silicon Valley. Spender takes his years of experience and blends that with case studies and theories to develop a new understanding of strategy.
Review: "Business managers usually say more than they intend, so employees often interpret strategies differently and go in different directions. Spender re-examines strategizing under conditions of uncertainty, showing entrepreneurs construct special language to shape what others note and act on. He provides managers and consultants with a structured practice for value-creation." -- Andrew H. Van de Ven, University of Minnesota
2. Return On Influence: The Revolutionary Power of Klout, Social Scoring, and Influence Marketing by Mark Schaefer
As a marketing veteran, author, founder, and Executive Director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, Mark Schaefer has helped businesses develop their influence and authority in their respective businesses. In this groundbreaking book, Schaefer interviewed over 50 experts an provides explanation on how to use social and to build brand awareness and boost sales.
Review: "I could not stop reading this book. Mark Schaefer demystifies the power of influence in this insider's guide to combining content strategy with network interactions to create social conversations that move markets." -- Ardath Albee, author of eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale
3. Tilt: Shifting Your Strategy from Products to Customers by Niraj Dawar
Niraj Dawar is Professor of Marketing at the Ivey Business School, Canada, and has appeared in publications like Harvard Business Review, the M.I.T. Sloan Management Review, and the Financial Times. With Tilt, he helps businesses achieve a competitive edge by designing strategies around customer interactions.
Review: “Tilt challenges us to place customers at the heart of strategy. With product cycles shortening and product costs shrinking, this book brings to life a deeper understanding of how strategy can be made more powerful. A must-read.” -- Arkadi Kuhlmann, CEO, ZenBanx Inc; former Chairman and CEO, ING Direct
Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne are both Professors of Strategy at INSEAD, as well as Co-Directors of the INSEAD Blue Ocean Strategy Institute. Their best-selling book argues you should be focus on creating unique market opportunities, as opposed to constantly battling the competition.
Review: “This breakthrough book is essential for any strategist or entrepreneur who wants to move out of intensively competitive, shark-infested waters and into an opportunity filled, open ocean.” — Business Insider
5. Fewer, Bigger, Bolder: From Mindless Expansion to Focused by Sanjay Khosla
While as President of Kraft Foods developing markets, Sanjay Khosla increased revenue growth from $5 billion to $16 billion during a six-year period. Khosla shares his experience, as well as case studies from companies like Cisco and Spirit, to develop a seven-step model to increase profit growth.
Review: “A breakthrough blueprint for growth, this book is about the transformational payback that comes from investment in your workforce.” -- Tony Vernon, CEO, Kraft Foods Group, Inc.
Mark Murphy is the founder and CEO of Leadership IQ and author of the bestselling books Hundred Percenters and HARD Goals. With Hiring for Attitude, Murphy uses research from Leadership IQ to discover why 46% of new hires fail within their first year and a half. Murphy then provides case studies and tests so that you can hire the people with the right attitude.
Review: “Success in business starts with finding great talent that will thrive within your company culture. Hiring for Attitude combines valuable insights with relatable examples, giving you the tools to recruit the right talent for your organization and reduce your risk of mishires.” -- Brent Rasmussen, President of CareerBuilder North America
7. The Plugged-In Manager: Get in Tune with Your People, Technology, and Organization to Thrive by Terri L. Griffith
Terri Griffith, Ph.D., Chair of the Management Department at Santa Clara University's Leavey School of Business, has relied on technology and organization to help accomplish tasks and goals. With the Plugged-In Manager, Griffith argues that managers must not only embrace technology, they must also be plugged-in with people. She profiles leaders such as Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com to prove this point.
Review: "Want to help your organization kick ass in the marketplace? Read this book. It will prepare you to manage for this century, when most management books prepare you to lead in the last one." -- Nilofer Merchant, behavioral strategist; and author, The New How
8. The Strategy-Focused Organization: How Balanced Scorecard Companies Thrive in the New Business Environment by Robert Kaplan and David Norton
In their Balanced Scorecard, Kaplan and Norton unveiled their revolutionary "performance management system". For their follow-up, Kaplan and Norton researched over 200 companies who had implemented the Balanced Scorecard. By using this technique, these companies were able to create strategy-focused organizations.
Review: “Kaplan and Norton chronicle the long-overdue shift from management 'by the numbers' to a performance management process that places well-articulated, knowledge-based strategies at the center of every employee's activities. Given the pace of change in the new economy, strategy-focused processes that are measurable, repeatable, and supported by superior information are the only true sources of sustainable competitive advantage. Organizations that ignore this reality do so at their own risk.” -- James H. Goodnight, President & CEO, SAS
9. Strategy Safari: A Guided Tour Through The Wilds of Strategic Management by Henry Mintzberg, Joseph Lampel and Bruce Ahlstrand
These three colleagues deliver an extensive and entertaining history of strategic management that traces its evolution throughout the years - mainly the ten schools of strategy from the last forty years. This international bestseller combines these various schools of thought and creates a straightforward guide in how-to form a strategy.
Review: "Read the book. Let Henry Mintzberg, Bruce Ahlstrand, and Joseph Lampel guide you on an enlightening and entertaining excursion through the field of strategy making." -- Lawrence Bennigson, Senior Fellow of the Executive Development Center of the Harvard Business School
10. Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World by John P. Kotter
John P. Kotter, the Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership, Emeritus, at Harvard Business School, is a globally recognized authority in leadership and change. In this 2014 book, Kotter presents his case for a new “dual operating system” network that can help organizations handle strategic challenges and change with the times.
Review: “A Top Shelf Best Business Book pick of the Year: Strategy” -- strategy+business magazine
11. The Lords of Strategy: The Secret Intellectual History of the New Corporate World by Walter Kiechel
The editorial director of Harvard Business Publishing and the managing editor at Fortune magazine, as well as the author of Office Hours: A Guide to the Managerial Life, Walter Kiechel III shares the extraordinary story of the four men who invented corporate strategy (Bruce Henderson, founder of Boston Consulting Group; Bill Bain, creator of Bain & Company; Fred Gluck, longtime Managing Director of McKinsey & Company; and Michael Porter, Harvard Business School professor).
Review: “[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
12. Breaking the Fear Barrier: How Fear Destroys Companies From the Inside Out and What to Do About It by Tom Rieger
Rieger, a Senior Practice Expert with Gallup Inc., has the experience and talent to break down barriers so a business can succeed. In Breaking the Fear Barrier, Rieger, illustrates through research how fear can be destructive and how you can control and tackle that fear.
Review: “These may seem like insurmountable obstacles, but Rieger maintains that because these barriers were built internally, they can be destroyed internally. He offers solid tactics for how anyone can root out fear in their organizations and establish a culture of confidence, engagement, and long-term success.” -- Matthew E. May Strategic Facilitation & Ideation, MatthewEMay.com
13. Harvesting Intangible Assets: Uncover Hidden Revenue in Your Company's Intellectual Property by Andrew J. Sherman
As a partner at Jones Day, Andrew J. Sherman has worked with international companies in various stages of development. With this thought-provoking book, Sherman shares his own experiences and examples from companies like Google on how to convert intellectual property into revenue.
Review: “You will come away with a much better practical sense of how intangibles fit into business strategy and how to develop that strategy….Sherman has made a strong contribution towards helping business develop strategies utilizing their intangibles. The book should be widely read.” --The Intangible Economy
Bestselling author Jim Collins provides the seven characteristics that it takes for a business to become successful after examining each and every one of the 1,400 companies included in the Fortune 500 since 1965 - which he narrows down to 11 to discuss in Good to Great.
Review: "Making the transition from good to great doesn't require a high-profile CEO, the latest technology, innovative change management, or even a fine-tuned business strategy. At the heart of those rare and truly great companies was a corporate culture that rigorously found and promoted disciplined people to think and act in a disciplined manner.” -- Harry C. Edwards, Amazon.com
15. The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist's Guide to Success in Business and Life by Avinash K. Dixit and Barry J. Nalebuff
These two professors, and game strategy theorists, use case studies from pop culture, history and sports to prove how individual and business interactions can use game components as a part of their strategy.
Reviews: "It is an easy read and is written in a lively tone-which is not something I particularly recall from my lectures in the 1980s. Long live economics!" John Burns, The Times Higher Education
"Unlike most of the ranks of management advice books which pad out bookshop business sections, here is one which is rigorous, fun and extremely useful all at the same time." -- The Economist
Any we missed? Let us know in the comments!