Making sense of strategy

If you are looking for a compact framework of corporate strategy – what it is all about and how to do it – this book will be a good choice for you:

Making Sense of Strategy
by Tony Manning

In his introduction, Tony Manning refers to the vast amount of management literature, which is accompanied by courses, speeches, consulting products and all these things that keep a whole industry alive. Manning concludes that this sheer mass of information may be more hindering than doing any good for business leaders. He sees his book as an antidote to lengthy management literature:

“… it tells you everything you need to know about strategic management, yet you can read it in less than an hour.”

Well, maybe it’s because I am not an English native speaker, but this book definitely took me more than an hour to read. However, it is true that “Making sense of strategy” is considerably shorter than most strategy books. And the time was well invested.

This book deliberately renounces real-world examples. Instead, it is packed with information, ideas, concepts, frameworks and questions that are ready to use.

The basic idea that Manning follows throughout his book is the holistic view at strategy. He understands strategy making as a conversation. Hence, strategy is closely interrelated with spirit, culture, climate, and change. It requires a clear language and sound statements. Manning writes:

“Strategy is not rocket science. It’s about listening to customers, asking some pretty simple questions, making some choices, and getting people to support your decisions.”

Tony Manning’s approach to strategy is grounded in some basic principles, which he lays out in the context part. He reminds leaders of some general rules that are easy to forget between day-to-day troubleshooting and thinking about adaptive challenges of industry disruption:

“Survival and success depend on innovation.”

“Growth is necessary … Growth is the ultimate measure of corporate success or failure … Growth keeps companies alive.”

“Firms must satisfy their shareholders.”

“… the long-term survival of your organization is your first responsibility.”

The book is structured in three parts

  • Part 1 gives Context to strategy – what is it all about?
  • Part 2 introduces important concepts. Here he talks, among others, about shareholders, competition, change, culture.
  • Part 3 describes the process and provides a five-step systematic approach to strategic planning

After summarizing his conclusions, Manning lists 20 strategy questions that shall “… ensure that you think through your strategy in a methodical way” and help you “… to analyze your current situation and to explore future possibilities”.

Despite the missing of practical examples, Manning gets his ideas across in an easy to follow way. He avoids any unnecessary length and writes to the point. His frameworks and his 20 strategy questins are ready to transfer to any business. This style makes “Making sense of strategy” to an essential read for anyone interested in corporate strategy.

  • Novices will find a great introduction and a solid starting point for their own strategy process.
  • Experienced strategists can reflect their own approaches and pick up some valuable ideas.

Get this book at
Making Sense of Strategy