‘Deep Dive,’ a comprehensive business book
September 2, 2010
Rich Horwath provides a comprehensive, in-depth and well-researched compilation of how to think strategically within a business setting. In fact, “Deep Dive: the Proven Method for Building Strategy, Focusing Your Resources and Taking Smart Action” is much more useful and informative than many college texts assigned to teach business to students.
While the book is instructive in nature, Horwath’s metaphorical use of divers helps lighten up the subject. His side boxes highlight essential concepts, and his chapter summaries, known as “pearls of wisdom,” help readers fully digest the sometimes dense material. In addition, graphs and illustrations allow readers to learn visually; in fact, he asserts that managers can more easily convey information through visual models, as opposed to narrative (talk or text).
He defines strategic insight as a “new idea that combines two of more pieces of information to affect the overall success of the business and lead to competitive advantage” and states that if sales are static, it’s because companies aren’t thinking strategically.
His examples of both companies and industries employing his techniques (or not) help readers grasp his concepts in story form, and his delineation of different “swimmers,” from those who sit on the beach, to snorkelers to deep divers, provides a solid metaphor to categorize a manager’s level of engagement in strategic thinking.
Research shows that 85 percent of executive management teams spend less than one hour a month discussing strategies, with 50 percent of them spending no time at all. Horwath views this as a catastrophic disadvantage.
Throughout his book, he refers to traditional business models, such as PEST analysis (political, economic, social, technological), Michael Porter’s five forces of competition and SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats). But he also introduces his three disciplines of strategic thinking – namely acumen (what is the key insight?), allocation of resources (where to focus resources), and action (how to achieve an advantage). Then he delves into the details of each. His explanations are what make the book most valuable; he even breaks down three forms of purpose (mission statement, vision and values), goes into the “why” and importance of each, then gives useful examples.
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Other chapters include flaws and remedies associated with strategic thinking. His book ends with a boost of confidence to “dive” into strategic thinking – a strategic design, which is a tool to help managers make sense of their business and give them a leading edge.