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Lords of Strategy: The Secret Intellectual History of the New Corporate World Hardcover – Mar 3 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; 1st Edition edition (March 3 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591397820
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591397823
  • Product Dimensions: 3.8 x 16.5 x 24.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 599 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #98,697 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“[Kiechel’s] ‘The Lords of Strategy’ is a clear, deft and cogent portrait of what the author calls the most powerful business idea of the past half-century…” – The Wall Street Journal

“This enjoyable book deserves consideration for your physical or virtual bookshelf.” — The Journal of Product Innovation Management

“I must say that you’ve written a great book that reads almost like a juicy tell all.” – Consulting Magazine

“Even though we are only 4 months into 2010, it is pretty likely this is going to be the best business book of the year for me. If you are considering, currently in, or recently graduated from, an MBA program, you really must read this book. If this book had been written 10 years ago, it would have saved me a good deal of trouble making my own career decisions.” –

Named one of “5 Smart Books” on the origins of the strategies –

“…Kiechel has done a real service…in bringing his subject to life. The book serves as a primer as well as a history, and as such almost any executive or B-school student would do well to pick it up.” —The Conference Board Review

“engaging book” - Strategy + Business

About the Author

Walter Kiechel III has been the editorial director of Harvard Business Publishing and the managing editor at Fortune magazine. He has written articles and columns on all aspects of business, and is the author of a previous book, Office Hours: A Guide to the Managerial Life (Little, Brown, 1989). He received AB, MBA, and JD degrees from Harvard, and served five years in the U.S. Navy.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are looking for a book on the start of the strategy consulting industry, this is perfect.

If you are looking for a book that will give you insight into the strategy consulting world, this book is once again perfect.

Do not, however purchase this book if you are looking for strategies to become a better consultant, or you are looking for tips on strategy. This is not a book to give you strategy, this is a book that tells the story of how strategy consulting came to be. If you are looking to improve your consulting game, go read the McKinsey Way
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By Jeffrey Swystun TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 8 2010
Format: Hardcover
The debate over the value of high-level strategic consultants and academics has waged for decades. I was one such consultant for the better part of ten years who often spent the first part of any conversation defending my profession (I have since moved to advertising and now defend that profession). Kiechel covers the rise of strategy consulting firms--BCG, McKinsey, and Bain--and notable business school professors who contributed to the strategy revolution. His background provides the credibility to do so, he was a former Managing Editor at Fortune magazine and was the Editorial Director of Harvard Business Publishing from 1998 to 2002.

He sees the best strategists as objective intellectuals who see patterns of evidence and put them through conceptual frameworks to produce pragmatic insights. This largely began in the sixties and seventies when strategy began to be systematized and integrated. Cost, customer and competitors were the three primary areas strategists looked for patterns to exploit. In the nineties, the practices were more fad-like including reengineering and total quality management. This was the era I practiced in and I felt like the lone voice extolling the virtue of a simple but robust strategic planning process. I jumped for joy when in June, 1997, BusinessWeek had on their cover, The Return of Strategic Planning: Once More With Feeling. Which was the pivot point for Taylorism-like monitoring and measurement processes becoming more humanistic and holistic in their design.

The author tells some great industry stories but what struck me is just how important the role of strategy and management consultants is to business. The influence that such a small number of people and firms have had on modern business is truly staggering.
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Format: Hardcover
"I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy,
For You have considered my trouble;
You have known my soul in adversities,
And have not shut me up into the hand of the enemy;
You have set my feet in a wide place." -- Psalm 31:7-8 (NKJV)

I haven't had this much fun reading a business book in many years, and never this much fun reading an intellectual history. Walter Kiechel has succeeded in capturing the detail of how strategy developed as an area of corporate focus while generously exhibiting the rich ironies involved.

If this is your first intellectual history, keep in mind that the purpose is to capture the progression of an idea, a concept, or a related series of perspectives. It's not easy to do, especially if much of the history isn't written down. The best method is to talk to a lot of people who were involved relatively near to the time that the developments occurred. The author appears to have done a very thorough job in this regard based on my experience with working in the Boston office of The Boston Consulting Group from 1971-1974 and interactions with many of the leading characters in the book during those years and since then.

I thought that the portrayal of Bruce Henderson was especially well done. Bruce was a man whom many people didn't understand. Working with him was certainly one of the most unusual challenges of my career.

The book is filled with little observations that land like bombshells for the unsuspecting. One of my favorites in the book was that only 4 percent of Harvard Business School alumni subscribe to the Harvard Business Review.
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By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on March 28 2010
Format: Hardcover
As Walter Kiechel III explains in the Preface, Bruce Doolin Henderson and his associates at the Boston Consulting Group (that he founded in 1963) launched the corporate strategy revolution. Kiechel then suggests that understanding it requires getting beyond three common beliefs: "The first is that at bottom, ideas don't really matter much in business." In fact, ideas that are sharp with a purpose to answer questions, solve problems, and facing challenges are essential. Another common belief to be overcome is that strategy has no intellectual history. In fact, "smart companies throughout history have had a sense of how they wanted to make money...What companies didn't have before the strategy revolution was a way of systematically putting together all the elements that determined their corporate fate, in particular, the three Cs central to any good strategy: the company's costs, especially costs relative to other companies; the definition of the markets the company served - its customers, in other words - and its position vis a vis competitors." The third common belief to be overcome is that consultants are at best "hangers-on of only occasional, limited usefulness" or at worst "rapacious parasites whose slightest presence in the corporate body indicates gullibility, weakness, and insecurity on the par of its leadership."

The "lords" to which the book's title refers include Henderson, of course, as well as Bill Bain, Fred Gluck, and Michael Porter. Kiechel devotes a separate chapter to each and frequently refers to all of them throughout his lively narrative. Moreover, he also discusses the significance of several others who - to varying degree - also participated in the "invention" of corporate strategy.
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