Strategic Learning: How to Be Smarter Than Your Competition and Turn Key Insights into Competitive Advantage
by Willie Pietersen
Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2010
In today’s dynamic marketplace, traditional strategic planning methods no longer work. The key challenge facing managers is to build adaptive organizations able to assess the shifting environment and rapidly translate insights into winning strategies over and over again. “Strategy as a planning exercise” must become “strategy as a learning exercise.” Excelling at this capability is an organization’s only sustainable competitive advantage.
Willie Pietersen’s Strategic Learning process gives you a practical and proven method for turning key insights about your market, customers, and competitors into action. Since Pietersen first defined them in Reinventing Strategy, the concepts and tools of Strategic Learning have been battle-tested in the harshest economy in a generation, helping to reinvigorate a wide range of corporations and not-for-profit organizations. The strategic learning process also forms the basis for how strategy is taught in Columbia Business School’s Executive Education programs.
Strategic Learning presents Pietersen’s unique “insight to action” model. Using this cycle of four linked steps — Learn, Focus, Align, and Execute — your organization will continuously learn from its environment and its own actions, adjust its strategies to fit the competitive landscape, and consistently outthink and outperform your competition. You’ll navigate through crises while building the organizational readiness to identify the next challenge, the resilience to withstand it, and the ability to profit from it.
Filled with examples showing real-world applications of its principles, Strategic Learning will redefine how you approach strategy. Coming from one of the best minds in the business, this far-reaching set of ideas equips managers at all levels to lead the way to lasting competitive advantage.
Willie Pietersen was raised in South Africa and received a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University. After practicing law, he embarked on an international business career, serving as the CEO of multibillion-dollar businesses such as Lever Foods, Seagram USA, Tropicana, and Sterling Winthrop’s Consumer Health Group. Since 1998, Pietersen has been Professor of the Practice of Management at the Columbia University Business School. He has served as teacher and advisor to many global companies, including Boeing, Deloitte, DePuy, Ericsson, ExxonMobil, Novartis, SAP, and the Girl Scouts of the USA. He is the author of Reinventing Strategy, which is widely used by organizations as a guide to the creation of winning strategies, and has been translated into Spanish and Chinese.