David Maister's upcoming book, Strategy and the Fat Smoker, will be well worth the read. If you are a leader or manager trying to develop and execute strategy, I'd plan on picking this book up as soon as its January 2008 release.
Maister is a trusted adviser to professional services firms, author of five previous books, and a prolific blogger (466 posts to date). He has also published many articles on his website, and this book is a collection of the best from 2005 through 2007.
The book focuses on how to ensure our organizations do more of what we know we should be doing. Hence the title - the fat smoker knows he should quit smoking and lose weight, but often does not.
There is much to like in the book, but here are some of my favorites.
- Adopt a strategy you and your organization can and will stick to. If you aren't willing to live by the rules demanded by the strategy, find another strategy.
- The desired outcome of a strategic planning exercise is the resolve to do what the strategy requires.
- Training as an early step in a change process is wasted, in Maister's opinion. Later might make sense, but not first. (See the book for Maister's reasoning.)
- Training that leaders are not part of is also wasted. Leaders must go first and often and visibly.
Maister has organized the book into four sections. Part I covers strategy, Part II discusses client relationships, Part III focuses on management practices that either support or deter change and Part IV looks mostly at leadership of professional services firms.
Even if you are not leading a professional services firm, I think you'll find plenty of interest in Maister's book - especially the first three parts. Preorder the book now and read it as soon as it arrives. You'll be glad you did!