The Strategist

Be the Leader Your Business Needs


The Strategist

Highlights by David Willden

“When you look at strategy as a frame of mind to be cultivated, rather than as a plan to be executed, you are far more likely to succeed over the long run.”

Many business leaders struggle understanding how strategy theories can really benefit their business.   There is a large gap between understanding and successfully applying the theories of strategy in their businesses.  Most leaders are in their positions they are because “they accomplished some great things.”   The problem is,  what it takes to succeed today is more complex than it was in a less dynamic environment.   

Cynthia Montgomery,  the author of the book,  indicates that it is only when leaders engage in strategy themselves,  that they will understand the theories designed to help them to ask the right questions,  develop the right clarity,  look at trade-offs, make smart decisions, and guide the right kind of actions that will lead to the desired results. 



Focus is on Strategic Leadership vs. Strategy Theory 

In the world of academia,  there is the “positioning school” of business strategy. The theory suggests that success depends on “analyzing industry dynamics and competitive advantage, and staking out a position that is most resistant to competition on the basis of industry forces.”

On the other side is a perspective known as  “resource-based view of the firm.”  This theory suggests that “success depends on cultivating the capabilities and assets that no one else can match.” 

Cynthia Montgomery’s  book  represents an effort to move past the two camps of thought, and to focus on what it means for a leader to be a strategist.


The Thought Leader Interview: Cynthia Montgomery

When you look at strategy as a frame of mind to be cultivated, rather than as a plan to be executed, you are far more likely to succeed over the long run. That is the core premise put forth by Cynthia Montgomery, the Timken Professor of Business Administration and former chair of the strategy unit at Harvard Business School, in her book The Strategist: Be the Leader Your Business Needs (HarperBusiness, 2012). The book is based in part on her work over the past five years teaching executive education programs at Harvard for leaders of owner-managed companies.

The Strategist