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November 2018
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TD Magazine

Meet the Villains of Business Strategy

StrategyMan vs. the Anti-Strategy Squad: Using Strategic Thinking to Defeat Bad Strategy and Save Your Plan

By Rich Horwath
Greenleaf Book Group Press, 176 pages, $38

There will always be businesses that fail due to bad or nonexistent strategy. But many more can succeed if they remember that strategic thinking is a triangle: acumen, allocation, and action," exclaims the strategy superhero, StrategyMan. He has the superpower to recognize confusing business planning terms, the misunderstanding of strategy, and what it's like to not have a strategy.

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In a humorous comic book style, StrategyMan vs. The Anti-Strategy Squad follows the fictitious wearable-tech startup TechnoBody, which is experiencing many challenges and obstacles plaguing business across the world. TechnoBody's strategy is on a lifeline, and the Anti-Strategy Squad has targeted the company and its secret e-skin technology, which the squad plans to steal and program with artificial unintelligence and strategic stupidity to help bankrupt companies worldwide.

The Anti-Strategy Squad comprises a set of villains who represent real issues companies face—for example, Time Twister, who sucks strategic time from employees through time-consuming requests such as answering e-mails and helping people find items readily available on the Intranet; and Silo-Clops, who represents divisions of organizations that keep ideas separate and do not collaborate. Throughout the adventure, StrategyMan advises TechnoBody with real statistics, such as "81% of surveyed managers say their companies do not have a process for developing strategy and 50% say their teams lack ability to develop a good strategic plan." This blend of real and unreal makes for an enjoyable and informative story.

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Other notable villains are Miss-Alignment, who represents division strategies that do not align with the employees' skills or an organization's overall strategy; and Dr. Yes, who represents the common trap many professionals find themselves in when they say yes to all requests regardless of whether it makes sense for fear of saying no and being labeled not a team player.

Throughout the adventure, StrategyMan's colleagues offer assistance. Rising from the water cooler of justice, Purposeidon uses his purpose trident to destroy the Jargon Goblin, who represents the ambiguous use of business terms—such as mission, vision, values, and culture. Innovatara helps TechnoBody think past its ways of doing the same as the competition with little incentive to change.

I recommend this book to anyone in business who loves comic books and has a good sense of humor. The book is also useful for anyone in a smaller company or someone transitioning into a leadership role. If there's any point in my career when I oversee interns, I would have them read this book, because it would strengthen our bond and provide them with a solid foundation of strategy delivered in a fun and animated way.

About the Author
Nick Allen is an education instructor at a credit union in the northeastern United States.
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