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Book Review: The Strategy Journey

By January 29, 2023Articles

By Paul Sheldon

Upon opening The Strategy Journey by Julie Choo and Graham Christison, you could be forgiven for thinking this is a beginner’s book. Each concept is laid out in a two page spread that is part text and part graphics. Some of the images are simple pictures accompanying the text and others are more complicated diagrams helping to explain a concept. Once you delve into the content, however, you quickly realise this is not a lightweight attempt at a serious subject, but rather a well thought out approach to what can often be a dry, academic subject.

Choo and Christison’s approach is to provide both academic theory and real-world experience using a combination of graphical and textual content. The book is split into three main sections: Why, What and How.

The first section, Why, is the shortest and addresses the question of why an organisation would want or need to undergo a transformation journey. It raises pertinent questions for transformation practitioners and business leaders alike to ask, as well as explaining who the book is aimed at and why. This section introduces the five stages of The Strategy Journey: motivation and leadership; business design; value design; business architecture and finally business transformation. These stages are taken through the book and used to apply frameworks and models to help successfully achieve the goals of each stage.

This section addresses common challenges businesses face in their transformation journey with examples of both successful and failed transformations from well-known companies such as Lego, Amazon, Blockbuster and Kodak. It also digs deeper into the digital economy and the ways in which it can both aid transformation and leave those who don’t embrace it behind. The first section is an excellent way to wade into the subject of transformation, and in particular, digital transformation.

The second section, What, takes up more than half of the book’s content. This section is best summed up with a quote from the first page of the section:

“To be able to successfully navigate the Five Stages of The Strategy Journey, we need to understand the components that make a business what it is, drive its very existence and shape its evolution.”

The Strategy Journey, p62

The What section introduces the five models of The Strategy Journey, aligned to the five stages introduced in the first section: mission model; business model; value model; operating model; and transformation model. The value, motivation and growth of a business is examined and aligned to these stages, and business transformation and the digital economy are examined in more depth. One great example in this section explains how Grab beat Uber at its own game in the south-east Asian market.

There is a huge amount of valuable information in this section that helps the reader to understand what their business is all about, what transformation is and why it is important, and aligns this information with the five stages and five models that make up The Strategy Journey.

The final section, How, takes the five models of The Strategy Journey framework and joins them to three “guided paths” that “form an end-to-end methodology that enables an enterprise to cohesively bridge its strategy-to-execution gaps, and build its business agility, in an increasingly connected digital economy”. This section pulls together all of the information in the previous two sections, taking The Strategy Journey framework and providing three guided paths to choose from, along with advice on how to choose the right path for your organisation, and how to navigate that path once chosen.

The Strategy Journey is a treasure trove of valuable information presented in a clear and concise format that lends itself to easy digestion without sacrificing either the value or the depth of the content. It blends theory and practical experience with useful models, frameworks and examples of both successes and failures, in a way that can be used immediately by anyone involved in business transformation.

Choo, Julie, Christison, Graham (2020). The Strategy Journey. Stratability Academy

About the Author

Paul Sheldon is a Cloud Solutions Architect with over 30 years experience in the IT industry. Paul has worked at all levels of software development from developer through to solutions architect in a number of industries including mining, healthcare and telecommunications. Paul is an Azure DevOps Expert, a certified Microsoft Azure Solutions Architect Expert and is TOGAF® Certified.

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