12 Essential Strategy Insights

For decades, researchers have published findings in MIT Sloan Management Review about developing and executing strategy. This collection offers a dozen of our most popular strategy articles of all time.

Reading Time: 4 min 


“Strategy, at its heart, is about choice,” write the authors of “Turning Strategy Into Results,” an article featured below, which takes a keen look at how leaders translate the complexity of strategy into guidelines that are simple and flexible enough to execute.

A winning strategy for an organization is not based on an individual choice but an expansive, countless number of decisions happening every day across all parts of a business — product, customers, technology capabilities, and more.

In this collection of a dozen of the most popular MIT Sloan Management Review articles on strategy, renowned researchers and academic voices examine the critical choices managers make in companies every day. From insights on goal setting and communicating strategic priorities effectively, to testing and scaling new business models, these articles will help leaders sharpen their strategic thinking to face new challenges.

1. With Goals, FAST Beats SMART

Donald Sull and Charles Sull

The conventional wisdom of goal setting is so deeply ingrained that managers rarely stop to ask if it works. The traditional approach to goals — the annual cycle, privately set and reviewed goals, and a strong linkage to incentives — can actually undermine the alignment, coordination, and agility that’s needed for a company to execute its strategy.

2. A Structured Approach to Strategic Decisions

Daniel Kahneman, Dan Lovallo, and Olivier Sibony

Reducing errors in judgment requires a disciplined process. The authors provide leaders with a framework that is easy to learn, involves little additional work, and (within limits) leaves room for the leaders’ intuition.

3. The Shareholders vs. Stakeholders Debate

H. Jeff Smith

An age-old question has never been more relevant than it is today: Should companies seek only to maximize shareholder value or strive to serve the often-conflicting interests of all stakeholders?

4. Turning Strategy Into Results

Donald Sull, Stefano Turconi, Charles Sull, and James Yoder

Businesses develop strategies to address complex, multilayered business environments and challenges — but to execute a strategy in a meaningful way, they must produce a set of specific priorities focused on achieving clear goals. Rather than trying to boil the strategy down to a pithy statement, it’s better to develop a small set of priorities that everyone gets behind to produce results.

5. The Truth About Corporate Transformation

Martin Reeves, Lars Fæste, Kevin Whitaker, and Fabien Hassan

Analysis reveals that conventional wisdom about big, risky change initiatives is often wrong. In this article, the authors provide a number of factors that can help large companies beat the odds.

6. The Four Models of Corporate Entrepreneurship

Robert C. Wolcott and Michael J. Lippitz

Companies have four ways of building businesses from within their organizations. Each approach provides certain benefits — and raises specific challenges.

7. Scenario Planning: A Tool for Strategic Thinking

Paul J.H. Schoemaker

Among the many tools a manager can use for strategic planning, scenario planning stands out for its ability to capture a whole range of possibilities in rich detail. By identifying basic trends and uncertainties, a manager can construct a series of scenarios that will help to compensate for the usual errors in decision-making — overconfidence and tunnel vision.

8. Beat the Odds in M&A Turnarounds

Martin Reeves, Lars Fæste, Daniel Friedman, and Hen Lotan

While M&A deals and turnarounds are individually hard to pull off, combining the two can be even more challenging. Yet an analysis of roughly 1,400 M&A-based turnarounds showed that six management actions can help acquiring companies improve their odds of success.

9. Strategic Decisions for Multisided Platforms

Andrei Hagiu

Some of the fastest-growing businesses in recent decades — companies such as Facebook, eBay, and LinkedIn — are multisided platforms that enable interactions between two or more sets of participants. But the spectacular success of many of these companies isn’t easy to duplicate. Building a multisided platform business requires savvy decisions on everything from design to governance to pricing.

10. The End of Scale

Hemant Taneja with Kevin Maney

For more than a century, economies of scale made the corporation an ideal engine of business. But now, a flurry of important new technologies, accelerated by AI, is turning economies of scale inside out. Business in the century ahead will be driven by economies of unscale, in which the traditional competitive advantages of size are turned on their head.

11. Your Company Doesn’t Need a Digital Strategy

George Westerman

With new technologies entering the market every day, it can be exciting to look to what’s next for AI, robots, and the internet of things, but the focus on technology can steer the conversation in a dangerous direction. In various industries, including banking, paint, and shipbuilding, digital leaders are finding that technology’s value comes from doing business differently because technology makes it possible.

12. Six Steps to Communicating Strategic Priorities Effectively

Donald Sull, Stefano Turconi, and Charles Sull

Leaders can signal their commitment to a strategy by clearly communicating their strategic priorities to external stakeholders. Clear, credible priorities linked to explicit metrics offer a framework for assessing progress toward the company’s goals.


More Like This

Add a comment

You must to post a comment.

First time here? Sign up for a free account: Comment on articles and get access to many more articles.