- By Walter Kiechel III

The Lords of Strategy: The Secret Intellectual History of the New Corporate World

  • Title: The Lords of Strategy: The Secret Intellectual History of the New Corporate World
  • Author: Walter Kiechel III
  • ISBN: 9781591397823
  • Page: 354
  • Format: Hardcover
  • The Lords of Strategy The Secret Intellectual History of the New Corporate World Imagine if you can the world of business without corporate strategy Remarkably fifty years ago that s the way it was Businesses made plans certainly but without understanding the underlying dynam

    Imagine, if you can, the world of business without corporate strategy Remarkably, fifty years ago that s the way it was Businesses made plans, certainly, but without understanding the underlying dynamics of competition, costs, and customers It was like trying to design a large scale engineering project without knowing the laws of physics But in the 1960s, four maveriImagine, if you can, the world of business without corporate strategy Remarkably, fifty years ago that s the way it was Businesses made plans, certainly, but without understanding the underlying dynamics of competition, costs, and customers It was like trying to design a large scale engineering project without knowing the laws of physics But in the 1960s, four mavericks and their posses instigated a profound shift in thinking that turbocharged business as never before, with implications far beyond what even they imagined In The Lords of Strategy, renowned business journalist and editor Walter Kiechel tells, for the first time, the story of the four men who invented corporate strategy as we know it and set in motion the modern, multibillion dollar consulting industry Bruce Henderson, founder of Boston Consulting GroupBill Bain, creator of Bain CompanyFred Gluck, longtime Managing Director of McKinsey CompanyMichael Porter, Harvard Business School professorProviding a window into how to think about strategy today, Kiechel tells their story with novelistic flair At times inspiring, at times nearly terrifying, this book is a revealing account of how these iconoclasts and the organizations they led revolutionized the way we think about business, changed the very soul of the corporation, and transformed the way we work.

    1 thought on “The Lords of Strategy: The Secret Intellectual History of the New Corporate World

    1. (note I listened to audiobook not read the book, though I own the hard copy as well)This book provides a good survey on the history of Strategy Consultants. This has strong overlap with the 'History of Strategy' and 'History of the New Corporate World' however it is not about the history and future of strategy. This oversight- is an obvious blemish to an otherwise solid book.In the coda- the author seeks to almost apologize for the obvious oversight: by focusing on consultants he's overlooked al [...]

    2. What a fascinating, revealing, and difficult text. It details the rise of strategy firms (and their consultants) in the 1960s, intellectual business powerhouses who drove companies to begin thinking carefully about market share, positioning, customer needs, costs, and much more through a fiercely analytical and theoretical framework: "strategy".Whatever that means changed through the years, and helped in large part to accelerate the so-called gears of capitalism to an exceedingly rapid pace. Det [...]

    3. I had to abort at p. 32. (I also read the last chapter, "And Where Was Strategy When the Global Financial System Collapsed?" and the Coda.) This was disappointing. I was hoping for something along the lines of Dangerous Company: The Consulting Powerhouses and the Businesses They Save and Ruin, which was vibrant and really pulled the reader in. I do want to read an engrossing and well-written history of corporate strategy-making, but this isn't it. Kiechel's writing style is either bland and life [...]

    4. A great book for any business student and a very fun read for anyone who loves business. I devoured this book. Great job Mr. Kiechel.

    5. Normally, history books are dull, insipid and uninspiring. However, Walter Kiechel manages to make this book read like a fast-paced drama. He provides insights into the words and phrases we throw around with gay abandon - core competencies, the BCG matrix, value chains etc. He talks about when and how these were conceived, and how strategy consulting firms constantly engaged in a race to outdo each other.The author dispassionately narrates the 'story' - without taking sides, and without getting [...]

    6. I have a secret yearning to read great business history books -- they are rather hard to find -- and this is definitely one of the great ones. Anyone who gets their MBA these days is indoctrinated into the cult of "strategy" -- the idea that any self-respecting business has a strategy, a mutually-reinforcing set of processes, practices, and capabilities that are designed to give it above-average performance. It turns out -- and this is something I didn't actually realize while going through busi [...]

    7. Walter Kiechel III does a splendid job of chronicling the rise of "Strategy" and the three major firms that were responsible for it -McKinsey: Started by James O McKinsey, An accountant by educationBCG: Started by Bruce Henderson, Dropped out of Harvard 90 days before graduationBain: Started by Bill Bain, a former BCG employee, Does not have a degree in Business or EngineeringThis is a lovely piece of non-fiction that will entertain those interested in the field of strategy and looking to go to [...]

    8. Not just a history. And not a hagiography. This book gives an excellent & concise overview of the contemporary business landscape as a whole: its structure, its motivations, its warts, and how we got there. In closing, the author suggests a path forward different than the one we're on, and posits that Strategy (with a capital 's') may once again adapt and lead the way.Caveats:Probably nothing new if you're already well versed in the area, or a working management consultant. But peels back th [...]

    9. As someone who appreciates intellectual history related to business culture [1], I found this to be an intriguing and worthwhile book, and written with a good degree of humility from someone who has spent plenty of time talking with people involved in the strategy revolution and having a strong groundwork in the business context of strategy consultants. It is a shame that many people think of this book as something that is likely to be too harsh and too damaging to the reputation or honor of str [...]

    10. Who knew a book about the history of consulting could be so entertaining? Lords of Strategy has great writing with lots of character. I felt like I got a really good sense of the personalities of key players like Bruce Henderson of BCG. Not dry at all. One star off because of the inaccessible vocabulary; I had to look up words in a dictionary every few pages.Feels fairy balanced. Calls out consulting’s missteps and questionable incentives but also compliments consulting’s genuine contributio [...]

    11. Say what you will about the current state of corporate/shareholder capitalism, this is a well told history of the mythical notion of "strategy" in business. Through published work, personal interviews, and business history, we trace a well-connected coevolution of the notion strategy itself (plus its forceful business imperatives), the firms who promote it, the organizations who buy it, and the academic institutions and individuals who extend it. Yes: intellectual, slightly skeptical, and dry ye [...]

    12. An enjoyable synthesis of intellectual and business history, surveying the development of strategy and the growth of the major consulting firms that sold it. For a layperson like myself, this served as an accessible introduction to both subjects, but someone with more interest in either should turn elsewhere for a fuller treatment. Indeed, the book left me interested in how these firms actually apply these concepts, and it would have benefited from one or two case studies of consultant projects. [...]

    13. Although this book was highly informative, it was a bit hard to read. It sometimes read more like a book used for study than as a history book. But as said, highly informative, could be written a bit more accessable.

    14. Critical reading for anyone expanding their career with an interest in consulting or business strategy. This book offers a piercing look into the accomplishments and limitations of both fields with a mostly well-organized narrative.

    15. The story of the beginning of BCG and Bain was very interesting. As well as the overall evolution of Strategy in the business world.

    16. I liked learning about the history of strategy consulting. If only the writing weren't so pompous and smug while also being bad. (For example, see the title & subtitle.)

    17. I've said to pretty much everyone I know that I loved working at Bain and Company -- as a result, I was probably naturally interested in this book and its recitation of Bain's history and the way that the frameworks that I take somewhat for granted developed over time. I'm not sure it would've been as fun for someone who didn't have a direct connection to the organizations mentioned in the book (McKinsey, Bain, BCG, HBS) or at least an interest in business history. Four stars not because this bo [...]

    18. This book reviews the history of the strategy revolution and its biggest players - Henderson, Bain, Gluck and Porter - in modern business management. It talks about some big challenges and inflection points in the evolution of the strategy consulting firms – McKinsey, Bain and BCG – and how they differentiated themselves as they competed for growth in the same space. The definition of the term “strategy” as it’s used in business management and its evolution is the underlying thread in [...]

    19. It wasn't particularly riveting, at least not the way Steve Jobs' biography or The Everything Store (the history) is, but I think The Lords of Strategy did a fairly good job in narrating the rise of the management consulting industry. Given that McKinsey has always been the 'it' firm, I wasn't expecting BCG to be the focal point for the early years of development. While it was fascinating to learn about how BCG pioneered and led in terms of ideas (e.g. the experience-cost curve and the BCG matr [...]

    20. The Lords of Strategy fills a void - the history of Strategy and how it came about. As a management consultant who had worked for one of the major consultancies, I was first a bit bored reading the beginnings of Strategy, as many things are well known both in consulting circles and beyond. More and more, however, I was drawn into the fantastic writing of the author. He finally convinced me with many details that proved over and over again his deep research (e.g his knowledge about the importance [...]

    21. This is a set of essays by an editor at Fortune magazine about the growth of the strategy consulting business starting with the Boston Consulting Group and moving through the development of Bain, McKinsey, Monitor, and others up to the early 2000s. It reads like an oral history of the business and the general approaches taking by its leading lights. I had low expectations for the book - these stories are generally well known and the firms tend to be shameless self-promoters. The author, however, [...]

    22. Five stars for what has been my favorite read of the year, thus far. While a history of strategic management consulting might sound like the last place to look for an engaging, rewarding and entertaining read, it is a testament to Kiechel's skill that this book comes alive. It simultaneously traces the history of several key individuals, key consulting firms, key strategic "theories", and key societal views towards corporations and capitalism as a whole. Kiechel brings order and continuity to wh [...]

    23. An entertaining history of the management consulting profession. Many people blame consultants for all that is wrong in the business world, but while this book certainly doesn't paint a flattering picture, it reveals the depth of contribution that has been made to in many ways improving our competitive position in the world. The book did not change my perception of the management consulting industry, which I am part of. I read many, many business/management books. Each time, I come away agreeing [...]

    24. The world of business consultants and the use of "strategy" for business development has always fascinated and at times infuriated me. Fascinated because there is clearly a lot of brilliant thinking behind the work and advice of cusultants. And infuriated me because I have sat through too many consultantant meetings wondering why in the world are we paying these guys so much money to basically tell me what I already know but with lots of excrutiatingly detailed charts and graphs that, well, don' [...]

    25. The Lords of strategy succinctly portrays the history of the consulting industry in US, particularly the advent and growth of strategy consulting from 1970s onwards. The consulting industry has been reshaped by different luminaries, and the book follows their lives and contributions. Among the founders- Bruce Henderson (Founder, BCG), Bill Bain (Founder, Bain & Co), Fred Chuck (MD, Mckinsey) and Michael Porter (Professor, HBS) - have played pivotal roles in popularizing strategy as a pillar [...]

    26. A mildly interesting catalog of the contributions of "Big 3" strategy firms - or more specifically, their founding fathers and the odd business school professor - to business strategy. There are some interesting nuggets in here. For me, one of note was how Bain's original model of multi-year engagements (with only one client in an industry) with consultants holding de facto operating roles at a client almost blew up the company during "the Guinness scandal." The evolution of "in vogue" strategy [...]

    27. This book was a great read if you're interested in the evolution of business strategy, which I am. It was interesting to hear how the idea of strategy in business did not exist much before the 1980s. Management consulting is a newer industry in our economy. The value added by consultants in management consulting firms can be argued both pro and con. I love this field, which I recently entered. I found this book extremely interesting and helpful as I am learning how to use strategy to help add va [...]

    28. This book reviews the relatively new business concept of scientific based management strategy or *taylorism. In reviewing the phenomenon of big business consulting, the book reviews how some of the biggest businesses of today went global from more humble beginnings. Big business consulting, such as the firms Bain Capital and the Boston Group are reviewed in their implementation of management consulting upon businesses in growth markets.Esoterics aside, if you've ever wondered why big corporate o [...]

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