Top positive review
2 of 2 people found this helpful
Depth makes it slightly heavy but very worthwhile reading
on March 14, 2003
I first came across Mintzberg (one of the 3 authors of this book) over 10 years ago while doing my MBA in Europe. At the time I thought his thinking was dead on target. Having spent most of the years since growing a company (learning things that one has difficulty learning in a classroom) and working with people and organizations from all over, I read this book. Almost immediately I found myself agreeing with what is written (easy enough as they start in with explanation and critique of the design and planning approaches to strategy which though part of the game are dangerous if focused on too rigidly).
I found this book to be very comprehensive and it certainly has a lot to offer anybody who wishes to learn about corporate strategy. Being largely a literature review with commentary, it has too much information for people to simply take away a few simple messages to apply in a work situation but I vastly prefer this to "fondue books" that have a single concept which barely justifies a magazine article but which get padded out to be sold as a book. With a little thought, the book can help some very valuable ways of seeing things form in your mind and you can - to use their imagery - get a picture of what an elephant might be.
For readers doing research, I feel you will need to either know or read much of the material referred to in the text to get a high resolution grasp of what the elephant is. For readers looking to use elephants in their business, I recommend that you use a highlighter and, after reading the book, use the highlighted points to form an image of your image and remember that just as there are different kinds of elephants (Indian, African, Female, Male, Adult, Baby) - each one an elephant - so too are there different approaches to strategy. Armed with the thoughts that you can take away from this book you will be able to infuse them into your business and benefit from them.
Mintzberg, Ahlstrand and Lampel have done managers a great service by publishing this book. They don't present a magic wand or a silver bullet but they do lead us to water where we can drink.