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Management in the Book “The Strategist” by Cynthia Montgomery Essay

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Updated: Mar 22nd, 2020

“The Strategist” is a book by Cynthia Montgomery, a renowned business professor. The book is based on the author’s experiences as the head of the “Owner, President, Manager Program” at Harvard business school. The author’s previous contributions to the business world include her illuminating 1995 article “Competing on Resources”.

Montgomery’s 1995 article gave rise to a strategy theory that is known as “Resource-Based View”. The author of “The Strategist” was a teacher at Harvard Business School for a period of over twenty years. Some of the expertise that the author gained as a professor is manifested in “The Strategist”.

The author of the book notes that “countless books have been written about strategy in the last thirty years but virtually nothing has been written about the strategist and what this vital role requires of the person who shoulders it” (Montgomery 4). Consequently, Montgomery presents the readers with the standards that apply to strategies and strategists. The author of “The Strategist” argues that the legitimacy of the roles that are played by strategists is backed up by empirical data.

Nevertheless, the author of “The Strategist” quips that the role of leadership is often downplayed in the course of examining strategists. The claims that are made in the book are backed up by interviews and expert observations. Cynthia Montgomery presents a strong argument on the importance of strengthening the function of leadership and the need to elevate strategists to higher positions within their organizations.

The author of “The Strategist” presents an argument that indicates that leaders must adopt strategic positions in their organizations. Changing from a leader to a strategist requires those in leadership positions to change the manner in which they view functions within their institutions. Consequently, when leaders manage to change their attitudes, they can be able to steer their organizations towards new directions.

Without the fresh input of a strategist, it is almost impossible for an organization to maintain upward mobility. Montgomery reiterates that strategists have to start as leaders (Montgomery 4). Therefore, the metamorphosis of a strategist begins with effective leadership. In addition, a change in leadership attitude kick starts the process of someone changing from a leader to a strategist. The author offers a challenge to any business leader who wishes to become a strategist.

According to Montgomery, any leader should ask him/herself whether his/her organization matters. The author continues to note that the journey towards strategy begins with this soul-searching question. As strategists, leaders should refrain from viewing their companies as if they are competitive entities.

However, leaders should focus on restructuring their organizations for them to conform to their visions and strategies. Leaders are mostly preoccupied with positioning their companies in accordance with market values. However, a strategist is able to position the organization in a good market position naturally using strategies that go beyond market considerations.

“The Strategist” challenges leaders to change into strategists. Strategists do not conform to a set of guidelines and business models but they create models of business that are sourced from their own way of thinking. The main difference between a strategy and a model is that the former is not a ‘one-off solution but a journey that is in need of continuous, nor intermittent, leadership’ (Montgomery 2). In addition, leaders are charged with defining their organizations’ strategies.

Nevertheless, a leader’s ability to define a strategy does not require him/her to be an engineer of the same. The author passes the message of organizational strategy in an interesting manner when she poses this question to business leaders: “does your company matter… that is the most important question every business leader must answer…if you closed its doors today, would your customers suffer any real loss?” (Montgomery 6).

This hypothesis breaks down the role of the strategist in the modern business environment. A strategist places his/her business in an enviable market position without necessarily ‘driving’ it there.

The author of “The Strategist” does not provide the readers with mere rhetoric but she also lists concrete examples of some company strategies. Apart from posing some very important questions to the readers, the book outlines how the strategies of some reputable companies elevated them to success. First, the author presents a very interesting example that chronicles “Masco’s attempts to move tap manufacturing to the furniture industry” (Montgomery 10).

Then the author presents examples of strategies that were used by IKEA. In another chapter, the book reveals how Gucci’s different strategies made its fortunes change a number of times. All these company examples reveal that strategies do not work in the same way or produce similar results. On the other hand, the author uses examples of these companies to prove that there is no strategy that can work if it is fixed.

Consequently, strategists need time to achieve success through a system of organizational changes and adaptations. Future managers could benefit from evaluating the examples of ‘the strategists behind Apple, IKEA, and Gucci’ (Montgomery 109). Most managers focus their efforts towards devising ways of outwitting the competition.

However, the author of “The Strategist” maintains that a manager’s ability to shape him/herself as well as his/her organization is important in the making of a strategist. Any future managers who wish to shape their businesses by becoming strategists should embrace patience and versatility in order to gain success. Montgomery reminds aspiring corporate leaders that being a strategist has more to do with the ability to go on a journey as opposed to solving problems.

The author suggests that analytical skills are important to any strategist. “The Strategist” is structured like a business course that is meant to test and sharpen its readers’ skills. The author of the book uses several visual aids to pass her message to the book’s readers. Readers are challenged to define themselves and then redefine their intentions concerning their organizations. This exercise allows potential strategists to be able to chart their way forward.

The inclusion of various analytical exercises in “The Strategist” indicates that there are fundamental qualities that can determine upward mobility in a strategist. The most important aspect of a potential strategist is versatility. Montgomery’s book is intended for people who have had some experience running a business (Montgomery 8).

Henceforth, the author seeks to turn these managers, business owners, and company leaders into strategists by making them aware of their core abilities. In addition, the business leaders have made it their responsibility to adhere to a strict regimen of self-evaluation in their journeys to become strategists.

The book teaches a lot about purpose and how good-purpose features in a strategist. The author of “The Strategist” teaches about a good sense of purpose that expresses commitment towards a certain goal. Furthermore, the author notes that the sense of purpose acts as a compass for strategists because it allows them to decide that they will do A instead of B. According to the book, a viable sense of purpose also sets strategists apart from its competitors.

The author alludes to the fact that a sense of purpose makes a strategist’s work distinct by maintaining a series of original innovations in the course of doing business. Previously, it was thought that a strategist relies on a single line of action. However, Montgomery introduces the concept of various lines of action that are directed towards a single purpose. The book also addresses how the sense of purpose allows strategists to create and capture value.

For instance, a good sense of purpose operates under the assumption that when a strategist creates value for his/her clients, he/she is able to gain similar worth from strategies. This ‘quid pro quo’ principle is quite relevant to future business managers. The author underlines this principle by noting that a “good business strategy is more than an aspiration, more than a dream… it tells you where a company will play, how it will play, and what it will accomplish” (Montgomery 44).

“The Strategist” is a book that acts as a short business course for its readers. Montgomery is able to arrange several business lessons in the small book. The book also includes a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section that regurgitates the most vital lessons about strategists (Montgomery 120). Future managers are great beneficiaries of this book because it contains some vital lessons that are often overlooked by business schools. The book is also suitable for anyone who is on the lookout for revolutionary leadership theories.

Works Cited

Montgomery, Cynthia A. The strategist: Be the leader your business needs, New York: Harper Collins, 2012. Print.

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