Where did business strategy originate? When was it that understanding the business idea might make a difference? The Lords of Strategy, by Walter Kiechel, III, is a fascinating new read that details the history of business consulting. The short course in determining interest in it? If you’ve read Michael Porter, Tom Peters, Jim Collins or Gary Hamel and found yourself highlighting, dogearing pages and underlining…you’ll like where Kiechel takes this one.
Tracing the history of strategy by recounting the four biggest players (Bruce Henderson, founder of the Boston Consulting Group; Bill Bain, creator of Bain & Company; Fred Gluck, longtime managing director of McKinsey & Company; and Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter), The Lords of Strategy is 330 pages of stories that detail how the field of business consulting developed.
If you’ve been around the business world at all, you’ll recognize many of the strategies and practices that were developed by these four men and their firms. Lords of Strategy is a very compelling recounting of how these strategies were developed. The backstory, the actions and attitudes of the players, and the state of business as the strategies were developed all provide a level of detail that put the reader right into the backrooms where business changed and the competitive landscape changed.
At the same time, this is more than a history or collection of anecdotes. I found myself dogearing pages, underlining and starring sections for later review. If you’re building a consulting practice this will be a helpful resource. If you ever deal with consulting firms it will provide some important insights into their development and practice. Regardless of the reason you pick it up, if you’ve been in business in the last twenty to thirty years…you’ll recognize a lot of the strategies that are developed…and I think you’ll enjoy hearing how they came to be.