The Best Strategy Books

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Contributor, Benzinga
Updated: May 19, 2021

A strong business strategy can help you achieve your goals at work. If you want to grow your career or bridge a gap in your team, the right strategy book can offer solutions.

There are many such books to choose from, but the right one for you will be applicable to your situation. It’ll contain ideas that you can use in real life as you’re working on a game plan.

The Best Strategy Books To Read Right Now:

  • Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant, Expanded Ed. by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne - Get this book
  • Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters by Richard Rumelt - Get this book
  • Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works by A.G. Lafley and Roger L. Martin - Get this book
  • The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist’s Guide to Success in Business and Life by Avinash K. Dixit and Barry J. Nalebuff - Get this book
  • Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors by Michael E. Porter - Get this book
  • Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio - Get this book
  • The Pumpkin Plan: A Simple Strategy to Grow a Remarkable Business in Any Field by Mike Michalowicz - Get this book
  • HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Strategy by Harvard Business Review - Get this book
  • Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman - Get this book
  • Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by General Stanley McChrystal, Tantum Collins, David Silverman, Chris Fussell - Get this book

What You Should Look for in a Strategy Book

Business books cover a wide range of topics. From entrepreneur books to management and leadership, there’s a book for virtually any need. However, these vary in quality and accuracy.

You want a strategy book to rely on, so take these factors into consideration before you make a purchase.

Author Experience

Who is the author? Are they qualified to talk about strategy? You want someone who has experience in the field.

Business leaders can relay strategies that helped them in their career. Their insights and experiences can help you avoid some of the mistakes they made in the past.

On the other hand, experts and analysts devote their lives to watching business trends. So their advice is invaluable when you need an objective approach to strategy.

Depth of Strategy Covered

Creating a successful business strategy is a gradual process. Books that only tell a part of the story aren’t going to give you the comprehensive knowledge you need. Instead, go for books that look at all the moving pieces which affect goal completion.

Insightful narration and personal anecdotes may help give you a better perspective on why certain steps are necessary, and they’ll also help implementation.

Practicality of Advice

You can find inspiration and clarity when you read other business leaders’ strategies. However, it’s usually best to start with books that offer actionable plans. If it’s not realistic for you to execute the advice, it may not be the book for you.

In addition, some strategy books are meant for a certain audience. Leadership concerns depend on many variables, such as industry and size. There are no strategy solutions that work across the board.

For example, books tailored to entrepreneurs may focus on starting a business. But if you are in a leadership position in an established company, you need different strategy-related advice.

Our Picks for the Best Strategy Books

The best strategies for you depend on your situation, but we hope this list of recommendations will help you get started.

1. Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant, Expanded Ed. by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne

  • Who’s it for? All levels
  • Price: On sale

If you want a fresh strategic perspective, this may be the book to you. This international best-seller focuses on building strategies that tap into new markets instead of going head-to-head against competitors.

This is an updated version of their previously published book. It contains a 4-action framework to help you achieve your goals. Note that this isn’t a competitive strategy book, and it offers alternative approaches.

Get this book

2. Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters by Richard Rumelt

  • Who’s it for? Beginners
  • Price: On sale

Many readers will find this book a good starting place to learn about strategy. However, you don’t have to be a newbie to appreciate this book by Richard Rumelt.

Lauded as a guru of strategy, he lays down the basics very clearly, and he tells you how to spot the most common mistakes. The tone of the book is informal and straightforward, which makes it easy to read.

Get this book

3. Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works by A.G. Lafley and Roger L. Martin

  • Who’s it for? All levels
  • Price: On sale

Are you flailing under an avalanche of competition? Learn how to navigate brand building with five strategic choices.

The former CEO of Procter & Gamble and his advisor lay out how they increased market value by $100 billion in just a decade.

Their book is rich in examples and it applies their five choices to famous brands such as Gillette, Olay, and more.

Get this book

4. The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist’s Guide to Success in Business and Life by Avinash K. Dixit and Barry J. Nalebuff

  • Who’s it for? All levels
  • Price: On sale

This book focuses on strategic decision making and critical strategic thinking. It may not give you step-by-step examples of how to create a successful brand.

Learning about game theory can help you shape your career, as well as your personal life. The Art of Strategy teaches you the mindset you’ll need to tackle each, unique situation. You will more about how to deal with strategy in general rather than specific situations.

Get this book

5. Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors by Michael E. Porter

  • Who’s it for? Intermediate learners
  • Price: On sale

Written by competitive strategy powerhouse Michael E. Porter, this book is a must-read for anyone in a leadership position.

Porter provides frameworks for important considerations like competitor analysis and assessing the competitive structure of your business.

However, this book is for people who have some experience with business strategy. Beginners may find it challenging to dive into the jargon and concepts covered in this book.

Get this book

6. Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio

  • Who’s it for? Beginners
  • Price: On sale

If you need a roadmap to accomplishing your goals in life, this may be the one for you. Dalio provides you with tools to create the necessary framework for success. He also lets the reader in on the principles that guided him on his life journey from poverty to becoming a billionaire.

Topics that Dalio covers include decision-making as an individual and an organization, team building, and approaching challenges.

If you want a strategy book that’s short and light, you may need to look elsewhere. But if you’re interested in strategy tips from the creator of one of the biggest hedge funds in history, this is the one to choose.

Get this book

7. The Pumpkin Plan: A Simple Strategy to Grow a Remarkable Business in Any Field by Mike Michalowicz

  • Who’s it for? All levels
  • Price: On sale

Can you grow your business using a farmer’s strategy? This author believes so, and he tested it with positive results. Michalowicz describes the 3 steps to this unconventional strategy: planting the right seeds, weeding out losers, and nurturing winners.

This is a customer-oriented strategy. So if your industry doesn’t have much contact with customers, this one may not be the book for you.

But if you’re planning to grow a customer-centric business, it will give you some much-needed inspiration and guidance.

Get this book

8. HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Strategy by Harvard Business Review

  • Who’s it for? All levels
  • Price: On sale

This book contains ten must-read articles previously published by the Harvard Business Review. It includes Michael E. Porter’s article, “What Is Strategy?”, as well as nine others.

It can help you create an actionable plan, and article topics include:

  • Creating uncontested market space
  • Business principles
  • Distinguishing your brand
  • Decision making
  • Crafting a vision

Leadership situations can be circumstantial. So this compilation of articles is a good way to cover different perspectives on developing a leadership strategy.

Get this book

9. Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman

  • Who’s it for? All levels
  • Price: On sale

Do you want an actionable plan to implement? This book has one for you. This trademark strategy was implemented successfully in over 100 companies.

It has 6 main components, explained in detail. The author also includes tools to turn the suggestions into action.

Keep in mind, however, that this framework uses traditional management methods, and it may not be appropriate for some small business environments.

Get this book

10. Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by General Stanley McChrystal, Tantum Collins, David Silverman, Chris Fussell

  • Who’s it for? Advanced students
  • Price: On sale

If you want an alternative action plan for your team, this book may be an interesting read.

Written by General Stanley McChrystal, former commander of the Joint Special Operations Task Force, this book stresses the importance of small cohesive units in any organization.

But the author recognizes that organizations may not always have the luxury of having small intimate teams. So he offers insights and techniques to expand trust and transparency models to larger organizations.

Get this book

Finding the Best Strategy Books

Your business needs are very individual, and strategy solutions shouldn’t be applied using a cookie-cutter approach. Like in the case of personal finance books, not every principle or approach works for every reader.

However, you may find that you can take points from several well-written strategy books and apply them to your own framework. Having an actionable framework can help you increase productivity and reach those long-term business goals.