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5.0 out of 5 stars Packed with Knowledge!
This book, first published in Japan in 1975, is a somewhat dated classic, since the first edition appeared at the high water mark of Japanese competitiveness. Japan's economic doldrums since 1990 probably ensure that few business people will emulate it now. In a way, the fact that the bloom is off Japan's chrysanthemum makes this book more useful and relevant than it was...
Published on May 19 2004 by Rolf Dobelli

versus
1.0 out of 5 stars DATED, DRAGGY, AND JUST MONUMENTALLY USELESS, EVEN IN JAPAN
For one thing, do not expect to learn anything about "Japanese Business", which seemed to have played out well for this title commercially in 1975, when Japan was this mysterious Godzilla across the Pacific.
Nothing, that is, aside from some pithy insights such as: "Actually japanese companies do not really have a strategic planning capability, they...
Published on April 20 2004 by Shashank Tripathi


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5.0 out of 5 stars Packed with Knowledge!, May 19 2004
By 
Rolf Dobelli "getAbstract" (Switzerland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Mind Of The Strategist: The Art of Japanese Business (Paperback)
This book, first published in Japan in 1975, is a somewhat dated classic, since the first edition appeared at the high water mark of Japanese competitiveness. Japan's economic doldrums since 1990 probably ensure that few business people will emulate it now. In a way, the fact that the bloom is off Japan's chrysanthemum makes this book more useful and relevant than it was a quarter-century ago. Now that people aren't starry-eyed about Japan, it's possible to sort through the recommendations, take them with a grain of salt and find their deeper usefulness. The author is a famous McKinsey consultant, so the book is packed with charts and jargon. Ignore the jargon, the obsolete observations about how U.S. companies organize themselves and the anachronisms about Soviet-style central planning, now a relic. Focus instead on the examples and asides. We also note that this is a must-read for anyone working in Japan or competing against Japanese companies, if only because so many Japanese managers give it to their new hires as part of their training programs.
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1.0 out of 5 stars DATED, DRAGGY, AND JUST MONUMENTALLY USELESS, EVEN IN JAPAN, April 20 2004
By 
Shashank Tripathi (Gadabout) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Mind Of The Strategist: The Art of Japanese Business (Paperback)
For one thing, do not expect to learn anything about "Japanese Business", which seemed to have played out well for this title commercially in 1975, when Japan was this mysterious Godzilla across the Pacific.
Nothing, that is, aside from some pithy insights such as: "Actually japanese companies do not really have a strategic planning capability, they usually have one person, or a few persons, who has/have an intuitive pulse of the market."
Intrigued yet? There's more. You'll learn that strategy is the art of thinking on three major vectors: company based, customer based and competitor based. You can enjoy a truckload of charts and jargon. You can savor dated explanations of how American companies organize themselves and the anachronisms about Soviet-style central planning (I can recognize a relic when I see one.)
Guess I bought an expensive paperweight. Do yourself a favor and ignore the drooling reviews this book has garnered as recently as last month. Look instead for names like Porter, Drucker and Mintzberg.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for all Managers, Jan. 27 2004
By 
B.Sudhakar Shenoy (India) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Mind Of The Strategist: The Art of Japanese Business (Paperback)
Last week I received an identical request from two sources to recommend a good book on business strategy. One is a first year MBA student and another a senior executive in a large multinational. Without hesitation, I recommended this book.
Strategy has been a subject matter of interest to Business and Military than to any other profession. In both these cases it is a about doing something differently to gain advantage over the adversary either in the battlefield or in the marketplace. Strategy is not just a piece of paper or a corporate manual but a state of the mind to win against all odds. So many books and theories have been written on this subject and still it continues to be a topic that cannot be defined as an exact science. If there is one topic that can be listed as the most important for any MBA program, undoubtedly it is Business Strategy.
Another reason for revisiting this book is that in the last decade, we have been overloaded with concepts of digitization and technology as the main drivers of business. We have seen technologies that are excellent but have failed miserably in the marketplace. Technocrats have failed to convert bits and bytes into bucks. In the quest for technical excellence, strategy has taken a back seat. We need to fill this vacuum of strategic thinking.
But then the problem is to have a strategy to understand and apply this vital topic ! It is here that this book is one among the best I have come across till date.
Strategy is a combination of elastic thinking and application of analytical method. Omahe explains this well and warns that strategy is not just somebody's spark of genius but a process that needs rigorous effort and continuos refinement. He brings in the framework of listing the concrete phenomena, grouping, abstraction and determination of approach that are actionable and practical. The three Cs' of the strategic triangle - Corporation, Customer and Competitor are at the core of this book. Each C is discussed in detail with excellent illustrations and case studies.
If you need to read an executive summary, I recommend Chapter 7 - The Secret of Strategic Vision. In this chapter one paragraph in my opinion contains the essence of strategic thinking.
"Strategic thinking in business must break out of the limited scope of vision that entraps deer on the highway. It must be backed by the daily use of imagination and by constant training in logical thought process. Success must be summoned; it will not come unbidden and unplanned. Top management and its corporate planners cannot base their day-to-day work on blind optimism and apply strategic thinking only when confronted by unexpected obstacles. They must develop the habit of thinking strategically, and must do it as a matter of course. Ideally, they must approach it with real enthusiasm as a stimulating mental exercise."
The book was first published in 1982. Hence some of the assumptions on key economic trends under "Modern Strategic Realities" have undergone major corrections. However, the framework for strategic thinking still holds good. Though the examples are mostly from Japanese companies, Omahe concludes the book by pointing out that " Creativity, mental productivity and the power of strategic insight know no national boundaries. Fortunately for all of us, they are universal."
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not only a business book, but also a HOW TO THINK TRAINING, Feb. 27 2002
By 
Emir (Emirdag/Turkiye) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Mind Of The Strategist: The Art of Japanese Business (Paperback)
This is the best book I have ever read about Strategic Thinking. What is different and not existing in other popular books as 'Thinking Strategically, Co-opetition, Leading the Revolution, Competitive Strategy...' etc is HOW to think instead of WHAT to think.
The book's main chapter's include the following competencies:
Part I-The Art of Strategic Thinking:
--> What is strategy?
--> What can be the possible ways to overcome competitor?
--> How strategic mind should work?
(Instead of analysis to idea, idea to analysis)
Part II-Building Successful Strategies:
--> Define yourself - the corporation
--> Define the others - the competition
--> Define the rewarders - the consumers
--> And finally define the above 3C in one map
Part III-Modern Strategic Realities:
--> What is the affect of economic environment to 3C's?
--> How to cope with strategic changes?
--> A case analysis: A nations strategic gain: Japan
--> How to project the future 3C's?
--> And finally is there a strategic success formula?
The main thing I captured from the book is: strategic thinking is a way of life, not a special time event. Working in a US multinational for years, I am more and more aware of the facts and success path defined by Mr. Ohmae - McKinsey guru. Especially, determining the strategic degrees of freedom of any issue (can be a business issue, or a weekend tennis journey, or even life -I applied-) and determining the actions to take to get the determined result is the best thing I learned.
This is a short book (wrt to other strategic management books) but it teaches how to think instead of popular strategy methods.
It is a must read & can be taken as foreword of all business books.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Creating the right mind-set for strategy formulation, Feb. 23 2002
By 
Gerard Kroese (The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Mind Of The Strategist: The Art of Japanese Business (Paperback)
Kenichi Ohmae was Chairman of the Japan office of McKinsey & Company, the world-famous strategy consulting firm. He has been described as "Mr. Strategy" and has written several books and articles on strategy-related topics.
Kenichi Ohmae believes that successful business strategies do not result from rigorous analysis but from a particular state of mind. "In what I call the mind of the strategist, insight and consequent drive for achievement, often amounting to a sense of mission, fuel a thought process which is basically creative and intuitive rather than rational." He uses theoretical knowledge from the various academic scholars and puts them in its place - "a place distinctly secondary to creative intuition in the tool kit of the successful strategist." The book split up in three parts, each consisting of 5 to 7 chapters.
In Part I - The Art of Strategic Thinking, the author concentrates on the basics of the mental process. In Chapter 1 - Analysis: The Starting Point, Ohmae introduces the strategic thinking process. He introduces various useful diagrams and flow processes for a more reliable recipe for success: "the combination of analytical method and mental elasticity that I call strategic thinking." In the chapters 2 to 6, the author explores the different directions the strategic thinker can pursue in quest of innovative strategies. In the final chapter of Part I, Ohmae explains how the right mindset for strategic thinking and how to develop the required strategy.
In Part II - Building Successful Strategies, Ohmae shifts his focus from process to content. "In the construction of any business strategy, three main players must be taken into account: the corporation itself, the customer, and the competition." He refers to them as the three C's or the strategic triangle. Within the next three chapters, Ohmae discusses the strategies based on those three C's: (1) "Customer-based strategies are the basis of all strategy. ... There is no doubt that a corporation's foremost concern ought to be the interest of its customers rather than that of its stockholders and other parties. In the long run, the corporation that is genuinely interested in its customers is the one that will be interesting to investors." (2) "Corporate-based strategies are functional. Their aim to maximize the corporation's strenghts relative to the competition in the functional areas that are critical to success in the industry." (3) "Competitor-based strategies can be constructed by looking at possible sources of differentiation in functions ranging from purchasing, design, and engineering to sales and servicing. The main point to remember is that any difference between you and your competitors must be related to one or more of the three elements that jointly determine profit: price, volume, and cost." In the final chapter of Part II, Ohmae discusses corporate strategy. He claims that corporate strategy needs to address two issues: First, the integration between the individual business and the total corporation. And second, should there be a corporate strategy that is different from the individual business.
Part III - Modern Strategic Realities discusses the environmental factors influencing strategy thinking and strategy formulation. The chapters in this part are not as much related to each other as the previous parts. Ohmae identifies and discusses five economic trends that have an impact on long-term business strategies, whereby he notes that the strategic thinker needs to take those trends into consideration when shaping strategies. Due to those economic trends, seven major changes are ongoing in a global perspective. Ohmae discusses those seven changes in a very interesting chapter 14. In the next chapter, the author discusses the various myths and realities about Japan products and Japanese companies, and discusses the four main differences between Japanese and Western companies. This chapter provides some great insights into Japanese strategic and business thinking. In Chapter 16, Ohmae tackles strategic decision making. Ohmae believes that founders of successful businesses do not simply gamble. In his opinion entrepreneurs follow a five-step process for successful, foresighted management decision making: (1) Clear definition of the business domain. (2) Logical hypothesis based on an extrapolation of forces at work in the business environment. (3) Focus on a few strategic options, instead of many, open to the business. (4) The company must pace its strategy and not overreach itself. (5) Management must be prepared to change the basic direction of the business, if conditions demand it. Each of these five steps are discussed in detail. In the final chapter of the book, the author discusses strategy formulation: "... to bring insight to fruition as a successful strategy takes method, mental discipline, and plain hard work." He also discusses the creativity required for the development of business strategy.
Yes, I do like this book. And yes, I do find it difficult to write a review about it. This book is not a guide or framework into Japanese strategic thinking. In fact, Ohmae only really spends one chapter on the difference between Japanese and Western business systems. It is more about the right mind-set for strategy formulation and strategy development. There are some great lines in this book, and the various figures, diagrams and sketches are extremely useful. I wish that I had read this book several years ago as it gives great insights into the strategy process and development. But again, this book is not a guide or framework. It is an excellent complement to books such Porter's 'Competitive Strategy' (1980) and 'Competitive Advantage' (1985). Highly recommended to anybody interested in strategic management and strategy development/process. The authors uses a very simple US-English writing style.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Strategic Perspective Applied Profitably to Business, Feb. 16 2001
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(#1 HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Mind Of The Strategist: The Art of Japanese Business (Paperback)
Professor Ohmae has created one of the most balanced and useful perspectives ever in this outstanding book on business strategy. Anyone who wants to improve their strategy would do well to read and apply the lessons in The Mind of the Strategist.
I have over 30 years of experience with strategic thinking as a consultant and planner. I constantly find that people in the same organization have totally different concepts of what strategy is all about. Each perspective tends to be either too focused in one area (like competition), or incomplete in some aspects (like ignoring the effect of compensation to focus strategic intent).
As a result, people "logically" arrive at some pretty bad strategic conclusions. Typically, this involves a strategy that the organization cannot execute well or which the competitors will quickly negate.
What I like about this simple book is that it nicely summarizes the case for a balanced perspective involving your customers, competitors and your own company. Although most American companies will believe that they already do this, the American approach is usually much more superficial and incomplete than the Japanese one.
For example, if a Japanese company wants to add a new product, the evaluation looks heavily at how well the customer will be able to use the product and how effectively the company will be able to provide it in the context of probable competitive offerings. An American analysis will feature financial analysis of a forecast that is often based on little more than spreadsheet doodling. The development of the Sony PlayStation as described in Revolutionaries at Sony will help you see this point.
The weakness of the Japanese model is that it typically looks too little at the business environment (notice how often Japanese companies buy American businesses and properties at the top of the market for inflated prices), and are relatively insensitive to financial implications. In fast moving technology markets, the Japanese consensus-building process also tends to slow down time to market. That is what makes the Sony success mentioned above so interesting.
Clearly, there is no perfect model for strategic thinking that fits all situations. A major weakness of many efforts is to assume that the future can be precisely forecast. That is patently wrong. Typically, the relative importance of the elements considered needs to be adjusted to fit the circumstnace. That seems to be an art rather than a science at this point. You may enjoy The Art of the Long View on this point.
Although this book has its limitations (as suggested above), it is a valuable perspective on strategy thinking that will be helpful to most American business people if they think about the concepts in a more thorough way.
To balance the perspective here, I suggest you also read Profit Patterns to get a sense of how surrounding circumstances play a role in profitability.
Good thinking! May this book help you overcome any stalled thinking you have about not doing your home work in thinking about outperforming competitors to provide benefits that matter a lot to customers.
May you enjoy irresistible growth!
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4.0 out of 5 stars 1% Inspiration; 99% McKinsey, Jan. 11 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Mind Of The Strategist: The Art of Japanese Business (Paperback)
Ohmae wrote this before he left McKinsey, which was before he was passed over for Fred Gluck's job as Chairman of McKinsey, and also before Ohmae got seriously into Japanese reform politics. According to the bio. on the back, it was back when the author felt compelled to let us know how well-rounded he was, as both a motorcyclist and a clarinetist. This might be mistaken for typical consulting firm know-it-all hubris, but that would be unfair to Ohmae. There is an atypical humility and reach to his writing, which may be rooted in his Japanese background. Friends of mine with whom I have discussed it say this book is turgid and overblown. I disagree. It's well worth reading.
Main Points: This book has three (3) main points:
1. The Art of Strategic Thinking is a "combination of analytical method and mental elasticity" (35) and it can be learned. It certainly doesn't just happen. What usually does just happen in any organization is "strategic stagnation." (5) This book's goal is to help develop the "mentality" required to come up with "superior strategic ideas." (5)
2. Modern Strategic Realities have not changed the classic success formula of 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration. Creativity works within constraints, and require certain conditions. These must be understood to make an idea work.
3. Building Successful Strategies. Implementing strategic progress (a decidedly Western notion ) calls for a company strategy to organize something real (and of course to make money). This has to exist within a "strategic triangle" of 1) the company itself; 2) customers; and 3) competitors. All is "Strategy."
Ohmae's case examples are interesting and refreshingly un-worshipful. His discussion of key factors for success, and strategies for dealing with competitors are also very well done. The issue is always this: Do these books help you take decisive action? Or do they just furnish you with a vocabulary to retrospectively apply to the decisive action you took anyway? How this issue is resolved may be a function of how capable you are as the reader of this book, in some realm outside merely reading books. So success could be reinterpreted as 1% listening to Ohmae, and 99% taking some action on it.
Ohmae's other book I have read, The Borderless World, is not as solid as this one, but also reads a lot faster.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Balanced Perspective on Strategic Questioning and Thinking, May 21 2000
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(#1 HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Mind Of The Strategist: The Art of Japanese Business (Paperback)
I have over 30 years of experience with strategic thinking as a consultant and planner. I constantly find that people have totally different concepts of what strategy is all about. Each tends to be either too focused in one area, or incomplete in some aspects. As a result, people logically arrive at some pretty bad strategic conclusions. Typically, this involves a strategy that the organization cannot execute well or which the competitors will quickly negate.
What I like about this simple book is that it nicely summarizes the case for a balanced perspective of customer, competitor and your own company. Although most American companies will believe that they do this, the American approach is much more superficial and incomplete than the Japanese one. For example, if a Japanese company wants to add a new product, the evaluation looks heavily at how well the customer will be able to use the product and how effectively the company will be able to provide it in the context of probable competitive offerings. An American analysis will feature financial analysis of a forecast that is often based on little more than spreadsheet doodling.
The weakness of the Japanese model is that they typically look too little at the business environment (notice how often they buy American businesses and properties at the top of the market for inflated prices), and are relatively insensitive to financial implications. In fast moving technology markets, the Japanese consensus-building process also tends to slow down time to market.
Clearly, there is no perfect model for strategic thinking that fits all situations. A major weakness of many efforts is to assume that the future can be precisely forecast. That is patently wrong. Typically, the relative importance of the elements considered needs to be adjusted to fit the circumstnace. That seems to be an art rather than a science at this point. Although this book has its limitations (as suggested above), it is a valuable perspective on strategy thinking that will be helpful to most American business people if they think about the concepts in a more thorough way.
To balance the perspective here, I suggest you also read Profit Patterns to get a sense of how circumstances play a role in profitability.
Good thinking! May this book help you overcome any stalled thinking you have about not doing your home work in thinking about outperforming competitors to provide benefits that matter a lot to customers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Way of Winning --- Strategic Thinking, Feb. 12 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Mind Of The Strategist: The Art of Japanese Business (Paperback)
Many people talk about strategy. So does Dr. Ohmae in this book. Many voracious readers on business might be quite bored with the banal materials appeared on hundreads of pages of those books.
However, The Mind of the Strategist stands apart from other books in terms of its profound discussion on what the strategy really means. With this definition, he further talks about four ways of thinking to deal with a given situation in a business world. He may not give you off-the-rack answers of what to do. Rather than spoon feeding you, he gives you the right logic, not just techniques, to come up with your own solutions to maximize your competitiveness. It is your job to use your thoughts and imaginations to win the game of business.
The author must have intentionally taken this approach to discuss on strategy in order to sincerely tell us that there is no correct strategy for every situation. The author has done his job by giving us the way of thinking. Now it is our own job to think strategically after having read this book once. And I firmly believe that every reader can take full advantage of new way of thinking in business over your competitors. It means that reading The Mind of the Strategist itself is a strategic move for you. It should be your strategy in your personal business agenda.
Minoru Nadai "åˆä -«
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3.0 out of 5 stars A good insight but could have contributed more, May 20 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Mind Of The Strategist: The Art of Japanese Business (Paperback)
The author has been successful in giving readers an insight into what makes the Japanese tick from a cultural, economic and industrial perspective. The major shortfall however, is that book seems to suggest that the Japanese model is the benchmark for many western businesses to emulate.
My feeling is that the book could have contributed more by hypothesising a model that embeds the strengths of both Japanese and Western models to achieve optimum outcomes. After all, continous improvement strategies that many Japanese businesses embrace are hardly drivers for major technological break-throughs. Conversely, many US-based companies are excellent at large-scale investment in major R & D programs (and subsequent patenting) that secure long-term competitive advantage.
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The Mind Of The Strategist: The Art of Japanese Business
The Mind Of The Strategist: The Art of Japanese Business by Kenichi Ohmae (Paperback - Aug. 22 1991)
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