Book Review: Harvard Business Essentials: Strategy: Create and Implement the Best Strategy for Your Business

Reviewer: Gillian Reid, The University of Auckland

This is an excellent starter book for anyone trying to get to grips with the fundamentals of strategy, and strategic management. It draws heavily on strategy books and articles published over the past twenty-five years, many of them appearing in the Harvard Business Review over that period. All the obvious and well-known basics are covered, such as SWOT analysis, Porterʼs Five Forces Framework, Kaplan and Nortonʼs Balanced Scorecard, different types of strategy, building defensible marketplace positions, and the issues related to strategy implementation. What is particularly helpful for general management practitioners is its emphasis, (nearly half the book) on the actual strategy implementation process, with very clear and pragmatic steps to ensure a strategy can be taken through to a successful conclusion. These chapters include helpful guides on Action Plans, Progress Plans and Reviews, Contingency Plans, and Communication Plans. The Appendix contains some useful templates for SWOT Analysis exercises, Work Breakdown Structures, and Project Progress Reports. For students beginning their learning in this whole area, there are also very helpful Notes and Further Reading sections at the back of the book, which are good guides for the literature review activities that need to be carried out for various academic assignments. As stated at the beginning of this review, this is a good starter book. It is easy and quick reading but does not go into the depth of detail or variety of strategic considerations that a serious researcher or practitioner would need. It will build interest and confidence in the beginner but is inadequate for someone who wants to explore strategy, strategic leadership, and strategic management at a sophisticated level.