f you need a roadmap to success, then strategic planning is something that you should know about. Planning out your future and your business is a great way to save time and money, as well as boost productivity. In this post, we’ll go over some of the best books on strategic planning. We’ll start with what it means to be strategic, before going into each book in detail. Each book will have an overview, why it’s good for you, who it’s for, and other important details
Best Books on Strategic Planning: THE LIST
1. Good Strategy/Bad Strategy | By Richard Rumelt
Good Strategy/Bad Strategy clarifies the muddled thinking underlying too many strategies and provides a clear way to create and implement a powerful action-oriented strategy for the real world.
Developing and implementing a strategy is the central task of a leader. A good strategy is a specific and coherent response to – and approach for – overcoming the obstacles to progress. A good strategy works by harnessing and applying power where it will have the greatest effect. Yet, Rumelt shows that there has been a growing and unfortunate tendency to equate Mom-and-apple-pie values, fluffy packages of buzzwords, motivational slogans, and financial goals with “strategy”.
In Good Strategy/Bad Strategy, he debunks these elements of “bad strategy” and awakens an understanding of the power of a “good strategy”. He introduces nine sources of power – ranging from using leverage to effectively focusing on growth – that are eye-opening yet pragmatic tools that can easily be put to work on Monday morning and uses fascinating examples from business, nonprofit, and military affairs to bring its original and pragmatic ideas to life. The detailed examples range from Apple to General Motors, from the two Iraq wars to Afghanistan, from a small local market to Wal-Mart, from Nvidia to Silicon Graphics, from the Getty Trust to the Los Angeles Unified School District, from Cisco Systems to Paccar, and from Global Crossing to the 2007-08 financial crisis.
Reflecting an astonishing grasp and integration of economics, finance, technology, history, and the brilliance and foibles of the human character, Good Strategy/Bad Strategy stems from Rumelt’s decades of digging beyond the superficial to address hard questions with honesty and integrity.
2. Blue Ocean Strategy | By W. Chan Kim
In this perennial bestseller, embraced by organizations and industries worldwide, globally preeminent management thinkers W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne challenge everything you thought you knew about the requirements for strategic success. Recognized as one of the most iconic and impactful strategy books ever written, Blue Ocean Strategy, now updated with fresh content from the authors, argues that cutthroat competition results in nothing but a bloody red ocean of rivals fighting over a shrinking profit pool. Based on a study of 150 strategic moves (spanning more than 100 years across 30 industries), the authors argue that lasting success comes not from battling competitors but from creating “blue oceans” – untapped new market spaces ripe for growth.
Blue Ocean Strategy presents a systematic approach to making the competition irrelevant and outlines principles and tools any organization can use to create and capture its own blue oceans. This expanded edition includes a new preface by the authors: “Help! My Ocean Is Turning Red”; updates on all cases and examples in the book; and two new chapters and an expanded third one – “Alignment, Renewal, and Red Ocean Traps” – that address some of the most pressing questions listeners and readers have asked over the years.
3. Playing to Win | By Alan Lafley
Are you just playing—or playing to win?
Strategy is not complex. But it is hard. It’s hard because it forces people and organizations to make specific choices about their future—something that doesn’t happen in most companies.
Now two of today’s best-known business thinkers get to the heart of strategy—explaining what it’s for, how to think about it, why you need it, and how to get it done. And they use one of the most successful corporate turnarounds of the past century, which they achieved together, to prove their point.
A.G. Lafley, former CEO of Procter & Gamble, in close partnership with strategic adviser Roger Martin, doubled P&G’s sales, quadrupled its profits, and increased its market value by more than $100 billion in just ten years. Now, drawn from their years of experience at P&G and the Rotman School of Management, where Martin is dean, this book shows how leaders in organizations of all sizes can guide everyday actions with larger strategic goals built around the clear, essential elements that determine business success—where to play and how to win.
The result is a playbook for winning. Lafley and Martin have created a set of five essential strategic choices that, when addressed in an integrated way, will move you ahead of your competitors. They are:
• What is our winning aspiration?
• Where will we play?
• How will we win?
• What capabilities must we have in place to win?
• What management systems are required to support our choices?
The stories of how P&G repeatedly won by applying this method to iconic brands such as Olay, Bounty, Gillette, Swiffer, and Febreze clearly illustrate how deciding on a strategic approach—and then making the right choices to support it—makes the difference between just playing the game and actually winning.
4. Competitive Strategy | By Michael Porter
Now nearing its 60th printing in English and translated into 19 languages, Michael E. Porter’s Competitive Strategy has transformed the theory, practice, and teaching of business strategy throughout the world.
Electrifying in its simplicity – like all great breakthroughs – Porter’s analysis of industries captures the complexity of industry competition in five underlying forces. Porter introduces one of the most powerful competitive tools yet developed: his three generic strategies – lowest cost, differentiation, and focus – which bring structure to the task of strategic positioning. He reveals how competitive advantage can be defined in terms of relative cost and relative prices, thus linking it directly to profitability and presents a whole new perspective on how profit is created and divided. In the almost two decades since publication, Porter’s framework for predicting competitor behavior has transformed the way in which companies look at their rivals and has given rise to the new discipline of competitor assessment.
More than a million managers in both large and small companies, investment analysts, consultants, students, and scholars throughout the world have internalized Porter’s ideas and applied them to assess industries, understand competitors, and choose competitive positions. The ideas in the audiobook address the underlying fundamentals of competition in a way that is independent of the specifics of the ways companies go about competing.
Competitive Strategy has filled a void in management thinking. It provides an enduring foundation and grounding point on which all subsequent work can be built. By bringing a disciplined structure to the question of how firms achieve superior profitability, Porter’s rich frameworks and deep insights comprise a sophisticated view of competition unsurpassed in the last quarter-century. Competitive Strategy is skillfully narrated by Scott R. Pollak.
5. Good to Great | By Jim Collins
Built to Last, the defining management study of the ’90s, showed how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the very beginning.
But what about companies that are not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness? Are there those that convert long-term mediocrity or worse into long-term superiority? If so, what are the distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great?
Over five years, Jim Collins and his research team have analyzed the histories of 28 companies, discovering why some companies make the leap and others don’t. The findings include:
- Level 5 Leadership: A surprising style, required for greatness
- The Hedgehog Concept: Finding your three circles, to transcend the curse of competence
- A Culture of Discipline: The alchemy of great results
- Technology Accelerators: How good-to-great companies think differently about technology
- The Flywheel and the Doom Loop: Why those who do frequent restructuring fail to make the leap
6. The Art of Strategy | By Avinash Dixit
Game theory means rigorous strategic thinking. It’s the art of anticipating your opponent’s next moves, knowing full well that your rival is trying to do the same thing to you. Though parts of game theory involve simple common sense, much is counterintuitive, and it can only be mastered by developing a new way of seeing the world. Using a diverse array of rich case studies―from pop culture, TV, movies, sports, politics, and history―the authors show how nearly every business and personal interaction has a game-theory component to it. Mastering game theory will make you more successful in business and life, and this lively book is the key to that mastery.
7. The 4 Disciplines of Execution | By Sean Covey
For fans of Good to Great and The First 90 Days, The Four Disciplines of Execution is the book “every leader should read” (Clayton Christensen, Professor, Harvard Business School, and author of The Innovator’s Dilemma) for creating lasting organizational change. A number-one Wall Street Journal best seller with more than 500,000 copies sold, The Four Disciplines of Execution will radically change your business.
4DX is not theory. It is a proven set of practices that represents a new way of thinking essential to thriving in today’s competitive climate, making this second edition a book that no business leader can afford to miss.
The second edition provides more than 30 percent new content, including insight on topics such as:
- How 4DX impacts leaders of leaders
- The one metric that sustains execution for the long term
- Three leadership mindsets required for strategic commitment
- Utilizing technology for compelling executive scoreboards
The 4 Disciplines of Execution are used by more than 100,000 teams around the world in business, government, and education, and are changing how teams and organizations achieve their most important goals.
The 4 Disciplines of Execution (4DX) is a simple, repeatable, and proven formula for executing your most important strategic priorities in the midst of the whirlwind. By following the 4 Disciplines – Focus on the Wildly Important; Act on Lead Measures; Keep a Compelling Scoreboard; Create a Cadence of Accountability – leaders can produce breakthrough results, even when executing the strategy requires a significant change in behavior from their teams.
8. The Art of War | By Sun Tzu
This is the complete text of The Art of War, one of the oldest and most successful books on military strategy in the world. It has also been applied to business and managerial strategies. The translation, by Lionel Giles, is considered one of the best available.
This unabridged edition of The Art of War includes only the most essential translator’s notes so that the words and thoughts of Sun Tzu may be easily understood.
9. HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Strategy | By Michael Porter
HBR’s 10 Must Reads series is the definitive collection of books for new and experienced leaders alike. Leaders looking for the inspiration that big ideas provide, both to accelerate their own growth and that of their companies, should look no further.
HBR’s 10 Must Reads series focuses on the core topics that every ambitious manager needs to know: leadership, strategy, change, managing people, and managing yourself. Harvard Business Review has sorted through hundreds of articles and selected only the most essential ones on each topic. Each title includes timeless advice that will be relevant regardless of an ever-changing business environment.
Classic ideas, enduring advice, the best thinkers: HBR’s 10 Must Reads.
Is your company spending too much time on strategy development – with too little to show for it?
If you listen to nothing else on strategy, you should at least hear these 10 articles. We’ve combed through hundreds of Harvard Business Review articles and selected the most important ones to help you catalyze your organization’s strategy development and execution.
HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Strategy will inspire you to:
- Distinguish your company from rivals
- Clarify what your company will and won’t do
- Craft a vision for an uncertain future
- Create blue oceans of uncontested market space
- Use the Balanced Scorecard to measure your strategy
- Capture your strategy in a memorable phrase
- Make priorities explicit
- Allocate resources early
- Clarify decision rights for faster decision making
10. Strategic Planning | By Keith Simerson
When it comes to strategic planning, B. Keith Simerson knows from experience what works and what doesn’t. Strategic Planning: A Practical Guide to Strategy Formulation and Execution weaves that knowledge into a roadmap for anyone charged with creating a strategic plan, evaluating a strategic planning process, or executing resulting strategies in an effective and efficient way. Not a one-size-fits-all solution, the book offers a menu of information and options based on a broad view of strategic planning and offers correspondingly broad applicability.
The guide focuses on two major aspects of the planning process: the multitude of factors contributing to an effective strategic planning framework and the multitude of drivers and enablers of successful execution. Armed with concrete information, readers will learn to create and execute a business strategy, a personal strategic action plan, or strategies for any kind of for-profit or nonprofit organization. Specific methodologies, tools, and techniques will guide readers to successful strategy formation―and execution.
11. The Innovator’s Dilemma | By Clayton Christensen
His work is cited by the world’s best-known thought leaders, from Steve Jobs to Malcolm Gladwell. In this classic bestseller – one of the most influential business books of all time – innovation expert Clayton Christensen shows how even the most outstanding companies can do everything right – yet still lose market leadership. Christensen explains why most companies miss out on new waves of innovation. No matter the industry, he says, a successful company with established products will get pushed aside unless managers know how and when to abandon traditional business practices. Offering both successes and failures from leading companies as a guide, The Innovator’s Dilemma gives you a set of rules for capitalizing on the phenomenon of disruptive innovation.
12. Strategy Safari | By Henry Minzberg
Strategy Safari, the international bestseller on business strategy by leading management thinker Henry Mintzberg and his colleagues Bruce Ahlstrand and Joseph Lampel, is widely considered a classic work in the field.
No other book synthesizes the entire history and evolution of strategic management in so lively and entertaining a fashion. Since the initial publication of Strategy Safari, managers, consultants, and academics all over the world have found this book an indispensable and delightful tool—it has been translated into more than ten languages, including Chinese, Russian, and French, and has been used in top MBA programs worldwide.
Strategy Safari makes sense of a field that often seems to make no sense. Mintzberg, Ahlstrand, and Lampel pair their sweeping vision of strategy making with an authoritative catalog in which they identify ten schools of strategy that have emerged over the past four decades.
Why struggle through the vast, confusing terrain of strategy formation? With clarity and depth, Strategy Safari maps the strategic landscape and facilitates intelligent, informed strategy formation.
13. Business Model Generation | By Alexander Osterwalder
Business Model Generation is a handbook for visionaries, game-changers, and challengers striving to defy outmoded business models and design tomorrow’s enterprises. If your organization needs to adapt to harsh new realities, but you don’t yet have a strategy that will get you out in front of your competitors, you need Business Model Generation.
Co-created by 470 “Business Model Canvas” practitioners from 45 countries, the book features a beautiful, highly visual, 4-color design that takes powerful strategic ideas and tools and makes them easy to implement in your organization. It explains the most common Business Model patterns, based on concepts from leading business thinkers, and helps you reinterpret them for your own context. You will learn how to systematically understand, design, and implement a game-changing business model–or analyze and renovate an old one. Along the way, you’ll understand at a much deeper level your customers, distribution channels, partners, revenue streams, costs, and your core value proposition.
Business Model Generation features practical innovation techniques used today by leading consultants and companies worldwide, including 3M, Ericsson, Capgemini, Deloitte, and others. Designed for doers, it is for those ready to abandon outmoded thinking and embrace new models of value creation: for executives, consultants, entrepreneurs, and leaders of all organizations. If you’re ready to change the rules, you belong to “the business model generation!”
14. Measure What Matters | By John Doerr
Legendary venture capitalist John Doerr reveals how the goal-setting system of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) has helped tech giants from Intel to Google achieve explosive growth – and how it can help any organization thrive.
In the fall of 1999, John Doerr met with the founders of a start-up for whom he’d just given $12.5 million, the biggest investment of his career. Larry Page and Sergey Brin had amazing technology, entrepreneurial energy, and sky-high ambitions, but no real business plan. For Google to change the world (or even to survive), Page and Brin had to learn how to make tough choices on priorities while keeping their team on track. They’d have to know when to pull the plug on losing propositions, to fail fast. And they needed timely, relevant data to track their progress – to measure what mattered.
Doerr taught them about a proven approach to operating excellence: Objectives and Key Results. He had first discovered OKRs in the 1970s as an engineer at Intel, where the legendary Andy Grove (“the greatest manager of his or any era”) drove the best-run company Doerr had ever seen. Later, as a venture capitalist, Doerr shared Grove’s brainchild with more than 50 companies. Wherever the process was faithfully practiced, it worked.
In this goal-setting system, objectives define what we seek to achieve; key results are how those top-priority goals will be attained with specific, measurable actions within a set time frame. Everyone’s goals, from entry-level to CEO, are transparent to the entire organization.
The benefits are profound. OKRs surface an organization’s most important work. They focus effort and foster coordination. They keep employees on track. They link objectives across silos to unify and strengthen the entire company. Along the way, OKRs enhance workplace satisfaction and boost retention.
In Measure What Matters, Doerr shares a broad range of first-person, behind-the-scenes case studies, with narrators including Bono and Bill Gates, to demonstrate the focus, agility, and explosive growth that OKRs have spurred at so many great organizations. This book will help a new generation of leaders capture the same magic.
15. Strategic Planning Kit For Dummies | By Erica Olsen
Think and act strategically every time
In today’s business environment, strategic planning stresses the importance of making decisions that will ensure an organization’s ability to successfully respond to changes in the environment and plan for sustainable viability. Providing practical, field-tested techniques and a complete 6-phase plan, Strategic Planning Kit For Dummies shows you how to make strategy a habit for all organizations, no matter the size, type, or resource constraints.
Strategic Planning Kit For Dummies is for companies of all types and sizes looking to build and sustain a competitive edge, set up an ongoing process for market assessment and trend analysis, and develop a vision for future growth. This revised edition includes new and updated content on planning for both the short and the long-term; crucial information on succession planning; help to prepare for the unexpected using scenario planning and agile strategy; strategies for implementing change and integrating strategic plans successfully by involving all staff members; and more.
- The supplementary CD lays out a comprehensive, 6-phase, step-by-step program, complete with downloadable spreadsheets, charts, checklists, video links, and more
- Provides value for any business or entrepreneur looking to improve efficiency, focus, and competitive edge
- Includes practical, field-tested techniques
Strategic Planning Kit For Dummies gives today’s business owners and upper-level management the tools and information they need to think and act strategically in order to more effectively weather current economic storms while planning for future growth.
16. Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations | By John Bryson
The essential planning resource and framework for nonprofit leaders
Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations is the comprehensive, practical guide to building and sustaining a more effective organization. A solid strategy is now more important than ever, and this book provides a clear framework for designing and implementing an effective and efficient planning process. From identifying stakeholders and clarifying a shared vision, to implementing plans and revising strategies, the discussion covers all aspects of the process to help you keep your organization united and on track into the future. The field’s leading authority shares insight, advice, helpful tools, and specific techniques, alongside a widely used and well-regarded approach to real-world planning. This new fifth edition includes new case studies and examples along with up-to-date resources and references, and new multimedia-related content.
Innovation and creativity produce great ideas, but these ideas must be collected and organized into an actionable plan supported by a coalition of support to make your organization great. This book provides expert guidance and perspective to help you bring everything together into a workable organizational strategy.
- Discover an effective approach to the strategic planning process
- Identify issues, establish a vision, clarify mandates, and implement plans
- Manage the process with continual learning and revising
- Link unique assets and abilities to better accomplish the central mission
Public and nonprofit leaders are forever striving to do more with less, and great strategic planning can help you build efficiency and effectiveness into your organization’s everyday operations. Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations provides the framework and tools you need to start planning for tomorrow today.
17. The Lords of Strategy | By Walter Kiechel
Imagine running a business without a strategy. It would be akin to driving blindfolded, to building a house without a blueprint. Yet just 50 years ago, business “plans” were mere extrapolations of the status quo, heedless of the forces that determine the fate of today’s organizations: competitive threats, customer needs, and business costs. The concept of strategy changed all that, paving the way for the creation of the modern corporate world.
The Lords of Strategy recounts the birth and evolution of strategy — arguably the most influential business paradigm of the past half-century — and the trials and triumphs of the surprising disruptors who invented it. Principal among them were four men: Bruce Henderson, found of the Boston Consulting Group; Bill Bain, creator of Bain & Company; Fred Gluck, longtime managing director of McKinsey & Company; and Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter. Each was obsessed with pinpointing how companies achieve a competitive advantage over others. This insider account reveals these industry’s pioneers as “idea junkies” – a new breed of intellectuals who wielded concepts as weapons for fighting business battles. Their relentless efforts to plumb the depths of competition exploded much of the prevailing wisdom, galvanized executives into action, and forced companies to understand themselves as never before.
An important book by one of management’s keenest observers, The Lords of Strategy provides listeners with a deeper understanding of the world they compete in and a sharper eye for what works — and what doesn’t — when forging strategy.
18. The Anxiety Journal | By Corinne Sweet
Why do some products capture our attention, while others flop? What makes us engage with certain products out of habit? Is there a pattern underlying how technologies hook us? This audiobook introduces listeners to the “Hooked Model”, four-step process companies use to build customer habits. Through consecutive cycles through the hook, successful products reach their ultimate goal of bringing users back repeatedly – without depending on costly advertising or aggressive messaging.
Hooked is a guide to building products people use because they want to, not because they have to. Written for product managers, designers, marketers, startup founders, and people eager to learn more about the things that control our behaviors, this audiobook gives listeners:
- Practical insights to create user habits that stick.
- Actionable steps for building products people love.
- Behavioral techniques used by Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and other habit-forming products.
- New for the second edition! An additional case study for building healthy habits.
Nir Eyal distilled years of research, consulting, and practical experience to write a manual for creating habit-forming products. Nir has taught at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Hasso Plattner Institute of Design. His writing on technology, psychology, and business appears in the Harvard Business Review, The Atlantic, TechCrunch, and Psychology Today. He is also the author of Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life.
r journey to a peaceful mind.
19. Your Next Five Moves | By Patrick Bet-David
From the creator of Valuetainment, the number-one YouTube channel for entrepreneurs, and “one of the most exciting thinkers” (Ray Dalio, author of Principles) in business today, comes a practical and effective guide for thinking more clearly and achieving your most audacious professional goals.
Both successful entrepreneurs and chess grandmasters have the vision to look at the pieces in front of them and anticipate their next five moves. In this book, Patrick Bet-David “helps entrepreneurs understand exactly what they need to do next” (Brian Tracy, author of Eat That Frog!) by translating this skill into a valuable methodology. Whether you feel like you’ve hit a wall, lost your fire, or are looking for innovative strategies to take your business to the next level, Your Next Five Moves has the answers.
You will gain:
CLARITY on what you want and who you want to be.
STRATEGY to help you reason in the war room and the board room.
GROWTH TACTICS for good times and bad.
SKILLS for building the right team based on strong values.
INSIGHT on power plays and the art of applying leverage.
Combining these principles and revelations drawn from Patrick’s own rise to successful CEO, Your Next Five Moves is a must-listen for any serious executive, strategist, or entrepreneur.
Final Thoughts on the Best Books on Strategic Planning
It is important to have a strategic plan for your business. A good plan will enable you to move forward with increased confidence and allow you to make better decisions about where your business is going. Strategic planning can help you envision the future of your company and will let you know how to get there—it’s a roadmap for success. The following books are some of the best books on strategic planning that offer some insights on how to design a successful plan, as well as how it builds momentum, increases profitability, and boosts morale.
Do you see a book that you think should be on the list? Let us know your feedback here.
Meet Maurice, a staff editor at Bigger Investing. He’s an accomplished entrepreneur who owns multiple successful websites and a thriving merch shop. When he’s not busy with work, Maurice indulges in his passion for kayaking, climbing, and his family. As a savvy investor, Maurice loves putting his money to work and seeking out new opportunities. With his expertise and passion for finance, he’s dedicated to helping readers achieve their financial goals through Bigger Investing.