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Strategic Thinking:A Four Piece Puzzle Paperback – Mar 17 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Douglas Mountain Publishing (March 17 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932632131
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932632132
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 358 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #157,956 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Strategy consultant, Bill Birnbaun, helps management teams develop a clear vision for their future, and then turn that vision into a sound business strategy. He's publisher/editor of Business Strategies Newsletter and course leader for the American Management Association's strategy courses. He's a frequent speaker at business association meetings and has served on the board of three high-growth corporations.

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Format: Paperback
When I received this book from Mr. Birnbaum, I was immediately excited, intrigued, and impatient to get to the reading. For several years now, I've been working with Bill on various projects for the Association of Professional Consultants and I've had the pleasure of reading his bi-monthly Newsletter. So I was familiar with his writing and speaking style, which is why I was so interested in getting to his new book.
I wasn't disappointed. This book is written in Bill's warm, down-to-earth style, giving the reader the impression that they are spending quality one-on-one time with a senior consultant and coach. Birnbaum's unconventional wisdom comes through in this most readable book on Business Strategy. How often do you hear someone say that it's "okay to be mediocre?" Well, Bill let's you know that as long as you are excelling at those few important strategic goals, it's okay to be mediocre at everything else. Refreshing, isn't it? Honest, straightforward thought.
Bill continues in the same vein to give us practical advice on process and procedures. Not only does he share with us what we might consider doing, he goes about explaining how we might do it. Most of us in the consulting business are willing to share what we believe you should do, it's when we get to the "how" that we start issuing proposals and contracts! But throughout this book, Bill shares with us the how as well as the what and the why!
Besides reinforcing some of the things we know, such as "focus on doing the right things more than on doing things right," we are treated to lively and real life examples and stories exemplifying the strategies Bill lays out.
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Format: Paperback
Skilled strategy consultant Bill Birnbaum presents Strategic Thinking: A Four Piece Puzzle, a handy and easy-to-follow guide for managers and planners concerning basic business concerns. From adapting to the product life cycle in a market (such as by anticipating the inevitable decline in demand for most new products and compensating by introducting a new product as the old one decreases in popularity) to getting the best out of one's people, to judiciously applying the "80-20 rule" (i.e. 20% of the input is usually responsible for 80% of the output, and total output can be significantly improved by focusing on that 20% - but the rule is not an absolute), to learning how to focus on a few objectives and get them done right, Strategic Thinking is an overall winner written in straightforward, accessible terms. Recommended for business managers and decision makers of all skill and experience levels.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 14 reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
The Opportunity Grid is a real gem!...worth the value of the whole book! Sept. 5 2005
By Lee Say Keng - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I generally share most of the sentiments expressed by earlier reviewers who gave positive responses to this book.

In the light of my own consultancy work, understanding the Opportunity Grid (Chapter 6) alone, with its many diverse applications in business, is worth the value of the whole book.

Let me share a little secret with readers. If you synergise the power of this Opportunity Grid (with some adaptation, of course) with the power tools introduced in 'Innovation Formula' by Michel Robert, your analytical as well as opportunity sensing capabilities become exponential. Trust me!

The Opportunity Grid is really a brilliant piece of work by the author (even though it has its origins from George Steiner's pioneering work). Kudos!

The author's artful illustration of Pareto's Law or the 80/20 Rule in business, although it is not a new concept, is refreshing.

This wonderful book can be best summed up by using the author's own approach to strategic thinking, as outlined below:

"Successful managers or succesful mangement teams focus on the four critical pieces of the strategic puzzle:

- rather than try to accomplish "everything," they diligently maintain F-O-C-U-S;
- they develop & maintain intimate understanding of their M-A-R-K-E-T-S;
- they truly care about their P-E-O-P-L-E;
- they carefully manage their P-R-O-C-E-S-S-E-S;

This is one more good book to be added on to your Strategic Thinker's Bookshelf.

As a conclusion, & without hesitation, I rate this book a 5.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Good Buy for Developing Strategic Thinking Oct. 1 2007
By Elijah Chingosho - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The book offers a refreshing explanation of the most important concepts and techniques in strategic thinking based on what the author terms "a four piece puzzle" made up of focus, process, people and markets. This is a practical no-nonsense book, based on the author's extensive experience and sharp intellect.

The book should be required reading for those interested in strategic management, organizational change, the future of business and industry as well as strategy consultants. The stories and examples are right-on, enlightening, useful and very meaningful. This is a unique book which is a significant and welcome advance from the traditional strategic management process.

I particularly enjoyed reading about the opportunity grid which helps managers conceptualize and envision their specific strategic options. I also highly appreciated the insight and advice on how to successfully build knowledge in my organization which is key to be successful and competitive in today's highly competitive operating environment.

All-in-all, a well written book that is among the good books that you will find on the subject.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A puzzle no more . . . May 2 2004
By Dave Kinnear - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
When I received this book from Mr. Birnbaum, I was immediately excited, intrigued, and impatient to get to the reading. For several years now, I've been working with Bill on various projects for the Association of Professional Consultants and I've had the pleasure of reading his bi-monthly Newsletter. So I was familiar with his writing and speaking style, which is why I was so interested in getting to his new book.
I wasn't disappointed. This book is written in Bill's warm, down-to-earth style, giving the reader the impression that they are spending quality one-on-one time with a senior consultant and coach. Birnbaum's unconventional wisdom comes through in this most readable book on Business Strategy. How often do you hear someone say that it's "okay to be mediocre?" Well, Bill let's you know that as long as you are excelling at those few important strategic goals, it's okay to be mediocre at everything else. Refreshing, isn't it? Honest, straightforward thought.
Bill continues in the same vein to give us practical advice on process and procedures. Not only does he share with us what we might consider doing, he goes about explaining how we might do it. Most of us in the consulting business are willing to share what we believe you should do, it's when we get to the "how" that we start issuing proposals and contracts! But throughout this book, Bill shares with us the how as well as the what and the why!
Besides reinforcing some of the things we know, such as "focus on doing the right things more than on doing things right," we are treated to lively and real life examples and stories exemplifying the strategies Bill lays out. As you would expect, the book is laid out in four sections, one for each of the major puzzle pieces - focus, process, people, markets. There is a very useful index as well, and some of the best information in the book can be found in the Appendix, so don't skip them! He keeps our interest up and he delivers on his promise to - "steepen your growth curve, brighten your profit picture, and help you to lead your management team." I highly recommend you put this book on your must read list!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Practical Guide to Strategy April 19 2014
By Mike Tamayo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Strategic Thinking: A Four Puzzle, is a no-frills guide to the various facets of strategy. The straightforward presentation of this book will be particularly appealing to students in an introductory strategy course. Small businesses that may not be able to use external consultants will also find useful and simple approaches to strategy that likely can be developed and implemented by the company’s own staff.

Bill Birnbaum discusses strategy within the context of a four piece framework...Focus, Markets, People, and Process. In the focus section, Birnbaum introduces the SW-OT Matrix, which thankfully is the “correct” approach to completing a SWOT analysis. Specifically, as Birnbaum states, too often the participants completing a SWOT throw everything but the kitchen sink into each of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats sections. This consequently often results in analysis paralysis because there’s too much to absorb. Rather, the items in each of the four SWOT components need to be linked to the organization’s key success factors in order for the analysis to be relevant and useful.

The Marketing section contains a very useful Opportunity Grid that can be used to develop products and services in the context of current, related, or unrelated market conditions. Again, in keeping with the no-nonsense approach of the book overall, the discussion here is practical and clearly presented.

I gave the book four stars because I thought the People and Process sections, while generally informative, are not as useful as the chapters on Focus and Markets. That said, the Process section contains some very basic discussion on Activity Based Costing and the application of Pareto’s Law (i.e. the 80/20 rule). Again, clearly presented and likely useful to someone that may not have an extensive background in accounting and operations.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
THE way Business Bestsellers should be written June 26 2007
By kiwijinxter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you've read many business books, you'd notice they often can be summed up in 3 pages. The rest are all padding and fluff to make it into a book.

This one's different. This book gives you a great overview of the most important things relating to strategic thinking. It covers a lot of ground, and everything it covers, it covers enough so you can apply to it. No fluff. Bill's style is easy to follow and is jargon-free. Probably the kind of consultant you want to hire.

The 4 pieces of the puzzle certainly covers it - Focus, Markets, People, Process. All in a small book. Only an EXCELLENT author could put so much in so little. Read 10 other books on the subject if you're busy, but read this if you're busier - this book should cover those 10 books!

If you are looking for an excellent treatise on strategic thinking without all the bull and fluff you find in many books (and some consultancies), then this is it. Quick read, quickly reap rewards.


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