Making Big Decisions Better: How to Set and Simplify Business Strategy, by Tim Lewko ISBN 9781472451088
Three out of five stars
Many people think that they are developing a strategy for their organization when they are engaged in selecting tactics. Deciding on a strategy is what Lewko is referring to when using the phrase “Big Decisions,” as well as not implementing the strategic decisions more effectively. The focus of the book starts with the initial recognition that strategic decisions must be made and then steps through the process to the point where the decisions are now company policy.
Although they affect the entire organization and the quality of the strategy can be a matter of life and death for the company, many companies do not do a good job in making the key strategic decisions. Setting them on a better path is the point of this book.
Unfortunately, while the advice is true, it is often obvious and simple, as stated in the title. The goal should not be to simplify business strategy, but to make it effective and appropriate. Whatever the purpose of your organization is, your goal is to develop a strategy that works, if you can do that, the level of simplicity is essentially inconsequential.
The tendency to oversimplify is illustrated by the bulleted list on page 45.
“Do you currently have a one-page strategy tool that:
*) Illustrates your big decisions, products markets and capabilities?
*) Shows relative priority of ALL your products and markets?
*) Highlights where you make money and don’t?
*) Bases the truth if your competitive advantage is real?
*) Forces pinpointed dialog about performance?
The best-performing companies and CEOs do.”
Unless you have only a few products and services, it is not possible to get all of this on one page, all the while keeping the descriptions specific enough to be useful. The bullet list itself took up one-sixth of the page real estate.
While the advice in this book is good, it has a tendency to be obvious and is skewed too far towards the simple when effective is what the decision-makers want.