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Non Fiction

50 Models for Strategic Thinking (is it really all strategic?)

It is a little of a blog fodder to talk about strategic thinking and decision making model in my otherwise pleasure reading literary book review blog; but models were really what I do at work for awhile and still love them a lot. Pictures do speak a thousand words, a lot of complex management theories can easily be summed up by a 2 by 2 grid.

The book is divided in 4 sections:

  • How to improve yourself
  • How to understand yourself better (I thought this should come first before improving.)
  • How to understand others better
  • How to improve others (when it comes to others, they got it right).

The blurbs says:

A European bestseller, The Decision Book distils into a single volume the fifty best decision-making models used on MBA courses and elsewhere that will help you tackle these important questions – from the well known (the Eisenhower matrix for time management) to the less familiar but equally useful (the Swiss Cheese model). It will even show you how to remember everything you will have learned by the end of it.

A very gimmicky marketing blurb, in my opinion. Firstly, it is not the best decision making models used on MBA courses, because MBA courses doesn’t really teach you to understand and improve yourself better by models, self-help books does. It claims to show me how to remember everything I have learnt from the book but really at the end it was just 2 pages of reminder telling you to pick up your notepad and draw more often. Period. No brainer. Calling it Strategic Thinking is not entirely accurate too, because understanding yourself bit is not strategic thinking really. The title just confuses me.

Some models I could put in good use, models that I think could be quite cool to stick up on my home or cubicle just to re-condition my thinking. However there are some that I just look at it and think.. hmm what does it really mean? What is it saying? Every model is only accompanied with a very short notes, so unless the reader gets it with a snap of fingers, otherwise the meaning is all lost.

For example, what does my music taste says about me?

I like U2, Sting, Buble, Portishead and Amy Winehouse.

Another model which I find quite distasteful is the Network Target model, which prompts you to think who you should spend your time with. Poorer or richer people? Uglier or more attractive? In the book blogging world context, this model should be scrapped. I spent time with people of different nationalities, I don’t care if they poorer or richer it doesn’t make me like them less and I don’t really care about whether they are ugly or attractive!

MBA courses talks about the SWOT analysis and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) Matrix of cash cow and question mark for market development a lot. Interesting they have not included Possibility and Risk Impact model or organisation change management model in it.

Now that I dealt with the negative, lets talk about the positive. There are few models which struck a chord. There is one called Black Box Model. What it really means is that our world is getting more complicated with technological advancement. Because the world has advanced so fast, the pace we could learnt, and grasp every single concept decreases. For example we use i-pad but we don’t necessary care what make it works. So we are increasingly surrounded by ‘black boxes’ complex construct that we do not understand even if they are explained to us. hence we assign more importance to those who can explain something than to their actual explanation. So that..

In the future it wil be the norm to convince people with images and emotions rather than with arguments. – page 118.

Just when I thought the world had gone crazy without any logic and objective decision making skills, that one sentence in bold reminded me I have live past the age of reason and it is up to me to be able to convince people to see my view. How true!

Another great thing about this book is that it is a pocket book. Stylish and compact it offers a quick guide of models you can use at your finger tips.

Every person who look at the models may think different things or see differently than I do. As the authors are quick to disclaim that “Each model is as good as the person who uses it.” or don’t use it. For reader who doesn’t read much about models this may wow them, otherwise I strongly recommend reading management model from McKinsey Quarterly research articles gives you a lot more insightful models that aid decision making than this one can. Alternatively the authors’ website actually holds better models than the ones you can find in this little black book! How ironic! People paid money for this one!!

Rating for portability and user friendliness: 

Rating for substance and content: 

Hardback. Publisher: Profile Books 2011; Length: 173 pages ; Setting: Non-fiction. Source: Reading Library. Finished reading on: 29 May 2011. Translated by Jenny Piening, illustrations by Philip Earnhart.

About the Authors:

Roman Tschäppeler (left) is the founder and CEO of guzo, a communication agency based in Biel, Switzerland. He is also the manager and producer of Ivo Adam, a Swiss star chef. Prior to that he worked as an idea producer for BrainStore Ltd. He’s a graduate of the Kaospilot School. He’s a Swiss citizen and was born in Bern.

Mikael Krogerus (right) is a freelance writer for German and Swiss newspapers and magazines. He was a staff writer with NZZ FOLIO, the supplement magazine of Switzerlands leading newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung, for five years. Prior to that he worked as a copywriter for various advertising agencies. He’s a graduate of the Kaospilot School. He’s a Finnish citizen and was brought up in Sweden and Germany.

They have a brilliant blog at http://50topmodels.wordpress.com/


About JoV

A bookaholic that went out of control.... I eat, sleep and breathe books. Well, lately I do other stuff.


3 thoughts on “50 Models for Strategic Thinking (is it really all strategic?)

  1. Interesting book, Jo! I will see if it there in the library and flip through it sometime. I found the ‘Network Target Model’ that you have written about interesting – which prompts the reader to think on whether she / he should spend more time with poorer or richer people or uglier or attractive people. It made me think. Because in today’s world, ‘ugly’ or ‘attractive’ could have many levels of meaning. For example, does ‘attractive’ mean physical beauty? Or does it mean intelligence? (one might have a crush on another person who is intellectually brilliant). Or does ‘attractive’ mean someone who is wise and who has a good answer to any question? Or does ‘attractive’ mean someone who is kind and mature and is an excellent agony aunt? (I have seen many people find this kind of person ‘attractive’). Or does ‘attractive’ mean someone who is a free-spirit – who lives life on his / her own terms and whose personality and way of life everyone finds attractive? Which ‘attraction’ is the best? 🙂 Well, what can I say – it is fascinating to think like this 🙂

    Posted by Vishy | June 16, 2011, 4:55 pm


  1. Pingback: Spring is here and almost over.. (It’s a wrap! for May 2011 by the way) « Bibliojunkie - June 3, 2011

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Ratings Defined

0 = Abandon the book after first chapter

1 = Waste of paper, we will see what the environmentalist say about this!

2 = Skip it, read the book if you have got nothing better to do

2.5 = An average book, easily forgettable.

3 = A good read.

3.5 = A good entertaining read, a page-turner

4 = So glad that I read the book, a book with substance and invaluable for future reference

4.5 = So glad that I read the book, would pester everyone to read it, invaluable, I would want to own it and wouldn't mind a second read (something that I seldom do)

5 = The book is so good that I feel like I am on scale 4 and 4.5, and more, it blew me away and lingers on my head for weeks!

Books Read

JoV's bookshelf: read
Hold Tight
The Fault in Our Stars
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
The Thief
Catching Fire
A Tale for the Time Being
Into the Darkest Corner
The Liars' Gospel
Goat Mountain
Strange Weather In Tokyo
Strange Shores
And the Mountains Echoed
Ten White Geese
One Step Too Far
The Innocents
The General: The ordinary man who became one of the bravest prisoners in Guantanamo
White Dog Fell from the Sky
A Virtual Love
The Fall of the Stone City

JoV's favorite books »
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Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking. - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

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