The Lords of Strategy

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Harvard Business Press

Published by: Harvard Business Review Press
Release Date: March 3, 2010
Pages: 368
ISBN13: 978-1591397823



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 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 Group
Bill Bain, creator of Bain & Company
Fred Gluck, longtime Managing Director of McKinsey & Company
Michael Porter, Harvard Business School professor
Providing 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.


"… a clear, deft and cogent portrait of what the author calls the most powerful business idea of the past half-century: the realization that corporate leaders needed to abandon their go-it-alone focus on their company's fortunes and instead pursue policies based on a detailed study of the competitive environment and of broader business trends.”
—The Wall Street Journal, Read the full review

“If a history of business ideas strikes you as an oxymoron, you must read this brilliant book. The strategists of the title are practical visionaries who discovered that ideas, even more than capital or technology, make the world of business go ’round. In the sixties, they decided that it was time for management to become more scientific and invented the modern consulting firm to transform corporate America. In the deft and experienced hands of journalist Walter Kiechel, these pioneers are as glamorous and complicated as Mad Men and their message even more compelling in today’s perilous times than in the go-go years.”
—Sylvia Nasar, John S. and James L. Knight Professor, Columbia University, and author, A Beautiful Mind

“I've read many books about strategy in the past several years, and I find most run out of gas after fifty pages. The Lords of Strategy held my interest from cover to cover. Walter Kiechel tells the important story of the rise of strategy and the big consultancies in the changing world of business we compete in.”
—Mike Eskew, former Chairman and CEO, UPS

“Managers all live and die by ideas that seemingly drop from the sky with no lineage or provenance. This bright new book shows, in a witty and very well-written way, just how some of our major ideas on strategy came about and what their considerable impact has been. Walter Kiechel has written a wonderful book and a rare one.”
—Larry Prusak, former Executive Director of the Institute for Knowledge Management, and coauthor, What's the Big Idea? (Harvard Business Press 2003)

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Source Notes