Operational Leadership

a book review

authorAndrew Spanyi
date reviewed2013.07.13
genreBusiness (Management)

This slender volume makes an outstanding introduction to business strategy and execution through operational improvements. It is a book that covers a lot of ground in a relatively slender volume, pulling it all off without becoming dense or unreadable. In fact, it punches above its weight by stripping away a lot of the windy explanations and examples that business writers seem to love; I don't think there's a single case study that goes to more than 3-4 pages in the book. In the same vein, the author does a very concise job of evaluating some of the major trends in operational improvement activities (e.g. lean; six sigma), and recommending alternatives. The description that blends the "generic strategies" of Michael Porter and the "value disciplines" of Treacy & Wiersema alone are worth the price of the book.

But it's not simply an introductory text; the author uses his considerable business experience to clearly enunciate a number of ideas I haven't seen before. I loved the quote "Just as an army marches on its stomach, a bank lives and dies in accordance with the excellence of its information systems." If only the people who ran banks understood this!

I have used this book for my professional work and in my studies (a masters dissertation in risk management). I strongly recommend it as a thorough introduction to the material.

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rand()m quote

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.

—Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.