November 2016

Book Review: Elevate: The Three Disciplines of Advanced Strategic Thinking

By Bill Rearden

The getAbstract summary to this book is about: 1) Why strategy matters, 2) Why many companies fail at strategy, 3) What components make up a good strategy, and 4) How to strategize.

Sound strategy requires decision makers to have an “elevated” big picture understanding of their business. This requires the three strategic disciplines (3 A’s): acumen for developing valuable insights, allocation for using resources wisely, and action for executing strategic plans. The best route to business success is “differentiation” and not price-cutting. Successful businesses are strategic, because the right strategy uniquely aligns created value across stakeholders.

Strategic thinking also requires practicing three disciplines (3 C’s):

  • Coalesce best insights. Develop and aggregate quality insights and data in a unified manner to effectively compete.
  • Compete by making the right trade-offs. Never try to be all things to all customers, and develop differentiated competitive advantages.
  • Champion the strategy. Communicate the strategy and make sure senior management is committed to the ideas the employees can rally behind.

Kodak, an iconic American Company, did not fail because it was late to the digital photography revolution. It failed because it did not champion nor implement new strategies. Middle managers were stubborn; they clung to Kodak’s success with film.

Therefore, identify the business goal, know the approach (3 A’s), and make strategy (3 C’s) a regular component of daily operations.

Bill Rearden is co-founder and strategy consultant at Ironbound Consulting Group. He can be contacted at