Book Cov er
Posted By
09 Dec 2023
David Maister
We often (or even usually) know what we should be doing in both personal and professional life. We also know why we should be doing it and (often) how to do it. Figuring all that out is not too difficult. What is very hard is actually doing what you know to be good for you in the long-run, in spite of short-run temptations. The same is true for organizations. What is noteworthy is how similar (if not identical) most firms' strategies really are: provide outstanding client service, act like team players, provide a good place to work, invest in your future. No sensible firm (or person) would enunciate a strategy that advocated anything else. However, just because something is obvious does not make it easy. Real strategy lies not in figuring out what to do, but in devising ways to ensure that, compared to others, we actually do more of what everybody knows they should do. This simple insight, if accepted, has profound implications for:

1. How organizations should think about strategy
2. How they should think about clients, marketing and selling and
3. How they should think about management.

In 18 chapters, Maister explores the fat smoker syndrome and how individuals, managers and organizations can overcome the temptations of the short-term and actually do what they already know is good for them.

"Strategy and the Fat Smoker" is a valuable resource for anyone interested in strategic planning and execution. Maister uses the powerful personal metaphor of a "fat smoker" to illustrate the common problem of knowing what we should do but struggling to actually do it. The smoker knows that smoking is unhealthy and should quit, just as businesses know that they should focus on their core competencies, provide excellent customer service, and maintain strong relationships with their employees, yet many fail to do so. Maister argues that the key to overcoming this problem lies in developing a culture of discipline and accountability within an organization. He suggests that leaders must take responsibility for ensuring that their strategies are implemented effectively, and that they must be willing to hold themselves and their teams accountable for results. Maister also emphasizes the importance of simplicity in strategy.