Saad Raja - business strategy books

Saad Raja on The Best Books for Business Strategy


To gain an edge over your competitors, it is vital to understand your craft and learn innovative approaches to business.

Researching your field or sector and audiences provides a solid base from which to create a well-structured and thoroughly planned business strategy for implementation. Gaining new strategic insights and tactics are also important in keeping your plan flexible and relevant in today’s modern business world.

There are literally thousands of books available on and offline all packed with information, insight, advice and inspiration for the perfect business strategy. So how do you cut through the ‘noise’ and find something that resonates for you?

Here are my top picks:

  1. If You’re in a Dogfight, Become a Cat!: Strategies for Long-Term Growth by Leonard Sherman

On how to realign your business for sustainable growth

Described by many as the most provocative business strategy book of 2017, and penned by Leonard Sherman, An Executive in Residence and Adjunct Professor of Marketing and Management at the Columbia Business School. Sherman shares practical advice on how to compete on your own terms. This three-part strategy shows how to align goals and practices, while continually innovating. The book delves into how businesses survive and thrive in industries embroiled in intense competition for a small piece of the market. Breaking down the standard thinking in strategy, it walks through the building blocks of business strategy to challenge conventional notions of aggressive management practices. Sherman provides deep insights around how to adapt your business away from the “dogfights” of marketplaces to achieve sustainable profitable growth.

Top tips: Employ distinctive strategies to compete on your own terms and redefine your marketplace. Deconstruct and reconstruct value chains that characterise the way your company works. Target customers poorly served by current products and services. Focus on different performance attributes that address these unmet consumer needs, rather than mimicking the key characteristics of market leaders.

  1. Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World by John P Kotter

On the importance of business agility in turbulent times

Leadership and change management expert, John P Kotter, provides a powerful framework for competing and succeeding in an unstable business world. This book provides a well-argued case about the need for strategic agility in times of business turbulence. He presents a case for a new “dual operating system”, to bridge the gap between evolutionary and revolutionary innovation. At its core, this book proposes the co-operation of the hierarchical left and new right can lead to nurturing and accelerating important ideas. With case studies and research, Kotter provides valuable information on how to keep up-to-date with the trends surrounding company agility. If you plan on altering your business strategy in the coming year, check out this really insightful book for practical advice.

Top tips: Make your work agile by relying on quick short-term gains that work towards the longer more complex goals. Employ fluid role definitions that allow more self-organising. Make sure that role responsibilities remain flexible to the needs of the project at hand and have short daily meetings to measure progress and momentum.

  1. Breaking the Fear Barrier: How Fear Destroys Companies from the Inside Out and What to Do About It by Tom Rieger

On the destructive power of fear for businesses and how to overcome this

An expert in identifying and correcting barriers to success, Tom Reiger, a former Gallup employee, delves into the destructive power of fear and how to overcome it. The fear of risk, or loss can limit and even damage companies greatly, leading to failure. Bureaucracy and futility can build barriers that limit success. Leaders need to understand how to overcome this fear. In this book, Rieger breaks down these barriers through research into how fear can be destructive. Giving advice on how to control and tackle fear, he offers solid tactics for how to establish a culture of confidence that can lead to long-term business success.

Top tips: To overcome fear, create a solid business plan and set goals. Break down larger goals using the SMART method. Learn to accept fear rather than be afraid of it. Ask yourself the following questions to grow from your experience:

  • What did you learn from the experience?
  • How can you grow from this?
  • What are the positive things about the situation?

Take any failures as learning experiences to build from rather than being limited by the fear of them in future.

  1. Tilt: Shifting Your Strategy from Products to Customers by Niraj Dawar

On refocusing business strategies to customers

Tilt offers insights into the new competitive edge, designing strategies around customer interactions. Professor of Marketing at the Ivey Business School, Niraj Dawar, shows how the centre of competitive edge has shifted towards a greater interaction between customers and companies. With the implications of this shift on your strategy and organization, Dawar provides examples from all sectors and industries globally. This book offers a greater understanding of how strategy can be made more powerful. It’s essential reading for all businesses trying to keep up with modern marketing strategies as part of their business strategy.

Top tips: Business to Customer (B2C) strategies must be well planned, so try using a known method. Calculate the customer lifetime value (CLV) to predict the net profit attributed to a relationship with a customer to enhance your profit and use your customer database effectively to better understand your customers. Focus on your products and services for your long-term and best customers.

  1. Harvesting Intangible Assets: Uncover Hidden Revenue in Your Company’s Intellectual Property by Andrew J Sherman

On the modern day importance of intangible assets

A thought-provoking read about how businesses can capitalize on intangible aspects, such as patents, software codes, business models, trademarks and employee expertise, which can also lead to a growing culture of innovation. A partner at Jones Day, Andrew J Sherman has previous experience with international companies at all stages of development. Undoubtedly, the tools provided create profit from the intangible. This book offers a practical sense of how these intangible aspects can be used in business strategy and in developing strategy. Sherman’s work challenges businesses to rethink and innovate to survive.

Top tips: Gain help from an expert in intellectual property to help you navigate selling and licensing your products. Copyright your knowledge, products and secrets, as this can increase the value of the sale of your business.

Business strategies are wide and varied, the greatest ones are those that have clear vision, mission and set goals for growth, scalability, competitive advantage, and innovation. They are also not afraid to take risks. Learning from others and keeping your strategy flexible is also crucial to success. To increase the likeliness of your strategy being successful, look to industry experts and other successful strategies to learn and grow from these approaches.

 – Saad Raja 


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