How to Think Strategically

Davide Sola / Jerome Couturier  
Total pages
October 2013
Related Titles

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How to Think Strategically
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Discover how to become an effective strategic thinker


Some people seem to achieve the best results, again and again. Is it luck? Or is it strategy?


 How to Think Strategically equips you with the skills you need to make the best decisions and develop a powerful strategic mindset.


This hands-on guide tackles both the thinking and the doing, helping you develop a robust strategic plan. It offers a six-step framework that addresses key questions, including:


  • Which core challenges do I need to overcome?
  • How do I manage uncertainty and risk?
  • How do I execute my business strategy?


Visit for the accompanying app and the ‘Strategic Thinking Manifesto’.

Table of Contents




Chapter 1 – What is Strategy?

What strategy is - and what it isn’t.

The Key Elements of Strategy

Identifying the Core challenges

Coordinated, creative and sustainable actions

Creating value


Chapter 2 – What is Strategic Thinking?

What is thinking?

What is strategic thinking?

What does it take to think strategically?

The Strategic Mind.

The strategic thinking process.


Chapter 3 - Turning Strategic Thinking into Strategy

The Link Between Learning And Strategic Thinking

How to Maximise Strategic Learning


Chapter 4 – What is Business Strategy?

The importance of Competitive advantage

How do you create Competitive Advantage?

The right ingredients: the sources of competitive advantage

A recipe: the value creating options



Chapter 5 –  Managing the Invisible Hand

What is the invisible hand?

Where does it come from?

How does it become visible?

How can you manage it?


Chapter 6 – Assessing the current situation

Are you in the right place?

Macro Environment Factors

Industry-related Factors

Do you have a competitive Advantage?

Where does superior value creation come from?

Value proposition

Key activities

Resources and competences

Value Network

Organisational culture


Chapter 7 – Identifying the core challenges.

How to identify challenges

How to validate challenges

How to select core challenges - the importance of trade-offs

Defining what success will look like – Strategic Objectives and strategic Guidelines


Chapter 8 – Solving the core challenges

Reducing the complexity of the core challenge

Identifying the key constituents of the core challenge

Understanding the importance of its constituents

Developing potential solutions

Lateral thinking

Solution shop approach

Co-creation workshops

Practical tools for generating solutions

The Blue Ocean Strategy

The 7 degrees of freedom

Selecting the best potential solutions

Timing the initiatives


Chapter 9 -Reducing uncertainty

Experimenting to reduce uncertainty

Phase 1:  Stating the underlying assumptions

Phase 2:  Testing assumptions about Value

Phase 3:  Testing assumptions about growth

Phase 4:  Testing assumptions about sustainability

Ongoing testing and learning


Chapter 10 – Managing Execution

A will to act.

A coordinated approach.

Setting the scene.

Launching and spreading change.

Creating a compelling story.

Using Role Models.

Accelerating the speed of change.

Consolidating change.


Glossary: Key concepts and definitions


Back Cover

Discover how to become an effective strategic thinker.


Some people seem to achieve the best results, again and again. Is it luck? Or is it strategy?


 How to Think Strategically equips you with the skills you need to make the best decisions and develop a powerful strategic mindset.


This hands-on guide tackles both the thinking and the doing, helping you develop a robust strategic plan for your business. It offers a six-step framework that addresses key questions, including:


  • Which core challenges do I need to overcome?
  • How do I manage uncertainty and risk?
  • How do I execute my business strategy?

 Visit  for the accompanying app and the Strategic Thinking Manifesto.



Davide Sola is professor of Strategy and Management at ESCP Europe and visiting faculty at Business School in Finland, India and Italy. He is also a Principal at 3H Partners, who work with multinational organisations and governments in Europe, US and Africa.

Jerome Couturier is an associate professor of strategy and management at ESCP Europe. He is the author of several articles, policy papers, book chapters, case studies and papers presented at international management conferences. He is also co-founder and president of 3H Partners


Reader Review(s)

 ‘Quite a tour de force! Davide Sola and Jerome Couturier have managed to produce a thoughtful and practical strategy handbook, full of step-by-step advice and concrete examples. A must read - and a must use - for any leader eager to position their business for success.’


Hubert Joly, President and Chief Executive Officer, Best Buy Co., Inc.

‘Finally... a clear and comprehensive guide that sets out, step by step, how to create a compelling and actionable strategy. This book is a must read for anyone who needs to create a strategic plan and then execute it! The book gives straightforward and practical advice on how to think and act strategically. Best of all, it is written in plain English and not full of impenetrable business speak.’


Andy Ransom, Chief Executive Officer, Rentokil



‘With strategy, timing is everything. This book is a reminder that strategic thinking is the first step to change management and success. It makes it clear that strategic thinking should not be daunting compared to the other day to day challenges we all face; it might even make those challenges easier! I love it, it helps me to clarify and structure my entrepreneurial ideas.”


Eric Babolat, President and Chief Executive Officer, Babolat


" The authors are masters at integrating deep strategic thinking with wisdom and actionability. Clear, concise, effective, brillant!"


Gianemilio Osculati, CEO of Wealth Management at SanPaolo  Assicura 


‘This is a truly inspirational book which clearly sets out the steps to strategic success. It is a very useful tool for managing in the current very uncertain strategic context.’


Nicolas Petrovic, Chief Executive Officer, Eurostar



‘In a sea of very useful frameworks and great cases about strategy, what really strikes me is the lean testing methodology which is truly compelling. This is a great way to hedge uncertainty across cycles, geographies, business models and also personal biases. I really see a way to transform the strategic process into a learning process for my organisation.’


Aldo Bisio, Chief Executive Officer, Ariston Thermo


‘I have been impressed by both the quality and practicality of the book. On one hand it is built as a guidebook that managers can use on an ad-hoc basis, particularly for large transformational initiatives. On the other hand, it reads fantastically well in one go, providing a holistic and fascinating view of what strategic thinking is about. The ideas and tools proposed in the book are definite success factors for all organisations.’


Nicolas Japy, Group Chief Operating Officer, Sodexo


‘This book is an absolute must read for anyone who aims to successfully manage a business. Jerome and Davide have definitely succeeded in redefining strategic thinking, in a vibrant, thought-provoking and convincing manner. This book is really about the future of management.’


Albert Bourla, President & General Manager, Established Products Business Unit at Pfizer


How to Think Strategically provides a simple and useful approach to the most misused word in business: strategy. Together with the app, it helps to focus on what is relevant.’


Daniel John Winteler, Chief Executive Officer, Miroglio Group


‘How can you move from the simple desire to be strategic to actually having in place robust and clearly understood strategies? This book offers a practical roadmap to creating strategies, preparing an organisation for its implementation and building a framework that helps organisations embrace strategy as a true habit.’


Bernal Alejandro, Chief Executive Officer, Zoetis EMEA



‘This is an enlightening book. Often while I was reading it I thought “Now I know why XYZ worked!” recalling in my mind situations and decisions I made in the past.

It is a definite read for both young and seasoned executives. It is written in an easy, but at the same time, exciting style.’


Christina Miccoli, Chairman, CheBanca!


‘Although strategic thinking and acting are definitely the most complex business processes, Jerome and Davide have brilliantly mastered this challenging topic and have created a book providing clear and direct guidance, not only on how to tackle these challenges but how to finish as a winner.’


Dr Andreas Penk, President of the Pfizer Oncology business in Europe and Country Lead for Pfizer Germany


How to Think Strategically makes for fascinating reading on the three pillars of strategy: strategic thinking, strategy formulation and strategy execution. It is this focus on the three domains which make it unique, providing a holistic perspective to students and corporate executives. The authors need to be congratulated for writing the book in a simple and lucid style. I highly recommend this book as a must read for corporate executives as well as students.’


Dr P Singh, Director General, International Management Institute, Delhi, India


‘This is a powerful book on strategic thinking.  It is insightful, practically useful and provides a detailed roadmap to devising and executing a winning strategy.’


Reda Guiha, Director of the Specialty Care Business Unit, Pfizer France



 ‘What makes this book extraordinarily distinctive is the authors’ holistic approach to strategy which is a balanced blend of several key ingredients: thinking and creation; rationality and intuition; answers and questions; vision and action; and individual and collective strategic leadership. Very useful and inspirational reading for those facing complex challenges who are willing to find unexplored paths aimed at turning threats into opportunities.’


Salvatore De Rienzo, consultant, EgonZehnder


 ‘A clever way to view and approach strategic management. Reminds us that strategic thinking is part of everyone’s business.’


Gianpaolo Odarda, strategist at Ferrero International



‘A reference book for anybody interested in strategy, including experienced executives eager to have an impact on their business.’


Sebastien Herzog, Chief Audit Executive, AXA Investment Managers


‘This book succeeds in undermining the rigid framework on which business is based in order to see beyond the surface! It reminds me of the “Think Different” approach by the unforgettable Steve Jobs. It gave me great ideas to improve the efficiency of my business and I feel like I have gained a fresh new perspective. Great job, Davide and Jerome!’


Marco Toledo, Chief Operating Officer, Tosetti Value SPA


“Designing and executing a robust strategy to address a core challenge and create value, is a key condition to be competitive. The authors have structured the process like a journey through the strategic path and are providing the readers with very robust tools, case stories and tips, on how to make it work for everyone. If you are looking for a complete handbook to increase your strategic abilities, don’t look further.”


Bernard KREILMANN, Managing Director, Ferrero USA