Book Review

“Deep Dive: The Proven Method for Building Strategy, Focusing Resources and Taking Smart Action”

The success of a company and a leader’s career lies in the ability to set a good strategy. In fact, strategic thinking is one of the most sought-after executive skill, although only a few leaders possess this particular skill. In his book Deep Dive, Horwath breaks down three of the most important elements of strategic thinking into manageable and achievable capabilities, while providing guidance to the reader on ways to apply them effectively. The author provides leaders with a clear path to mastery the three disciplines, which include Acumen, which as the author explains it offers critical insights by giving a systematic assessment of the business and its environment. The second discipline is allocation, which focuses on the management of limited resources through strategic trade-offs. The last one is action, which involves the implementation of a system to ensure effective execution of strategies in all levels of the organization.

More specifically, in chapter one, the author begins by explaining to managers and leaders on the aspect of diving. He compares taking on the business in the manner of being immersed in water. The inability to breathe is likely to force the diver to ascend quickly onto the surface of the water forcing a reminder on the importance of utilizing one’s limited resources, which in this case is oxygen. In the same manner, strategy determines how leaders use their limited resources to boost the competitive advantage of their organizations. While a majority of the firms do not get to the last breath, they take it slow, a move that sinks them to a mediocre existence. It is in this regard that the author asks the ultimate question; are you strategic as a leader, while challenging them to test the water by asking how deep they can dive.

The second chapter focuses on preparing leaders on how to dive. It outlines obstacles they are likely to encounter when practicing sound strategic thinking, while at the same time providing them with solutions to counter these challenges. The author further gives a comprehensive overview of what strategy is and points out that it should never be confused with aspiration, best practices, or caution. The author goes to define and elaborate on the various concepts that make up strategy. 

Chapter 3 elaborates on the first discipline, which is acumen and involves the deep dive for insight. The author points out some interesting paradoxes of strategy that allows leaders and business managers to elevate their thinking to see ahead by diving below the surface. As the author elaborates, it is important for leaders to dive deeper below the surface to explore the largest portion, which in this case are business opportunities. However, the challenge that lies ahead is the ability to generate insight, which is not confined to the business world. Chapter 4 gives an overview of the second discipline of strategic thinking, which is allocation. According to Horwath (2009), after generating insights through the acumen discipline, the next step is to allocate resources. Resource allocation is at the center of strategy because it is what defines business potential. Chapter 5 reviews action, which is also the third and last stage of strategic thinking. Action starts with the individual and focuses on what is important and now what is urgent. Horwath also points out the significance of greater organizational discipline when it comes to this final stage. Similarly, the author outlines the concept of strategy execution and highlights five execution errors and possible remedies. Along with that, the author further gives a comprehensive overview of business planning terms, system activity map, and pearls of insight. Ideally, Deep Dive targets at helping leaders differentiate themselves from others by allowing them to focus on importunities that leverage competitive advantage with relevant processes.

Chapters 6 to 8 explore the aspect of organization and leaders diving. In particular, chapter six highlights what team diving entails including the discovery of purpose, mission, vision, and organization values. Chapter 7 involves deep dive dangers where the author highlights various elements such as absolute performance, anchors, benchmarking, and confirmation bias among others. In eight, the author challenges organizations and leaders on their confidence to dive. It gives an overview of applying the three disciplines of strategic thinking before diving and their contribution to giving leaders the courage to dive.

Application of these Concepts to the Workplace

Currently, I work as a Liaison Officer in the rank of detective with the NYPD. I am assigned to the Intelligence Bureau holding a Montreal post in Canada. My work involves developing and maintaining the already established relationships with the Canadian law enforcement agencies and assist in any way possible by sharing pertinent information that relates to the police substance, and that may be useful to the NYPD and the United States. As a Liaison officer, I am expected to act as a go-between for the two entities. Among other things, it is my responsibility to ensure proper communication and coordination of activities between the two agencies. The book Deep Dive will help me become a better strategist by transitioning my mindset from operational focus to a strategic focus, which is essential for organizational success.

Personal Goals

Two years from now, I plan to start a consulting firm. As an individual, I understand the importance of thinking strategically and its impact on business success. One of the most important lessons I have acquired from the book is the analogy of underwater diving. Just like the scuba diver, most managers are equipped with the right tools and instructions that they can have in strategic insights. They are equipped with the ability to generate new and influential ideas for the organizations on a regular basis. Unfortunately, only a small percentage is able to become highly strategic or reach the free diver level. Going back to the underwater diving, the reality is most people are unable to hold their breath for more than a minute, yet the world record of a free diver of 11 minutes and 35 seconds. In this case, the question remains, why is there such a big difference? The secret is learning how to use their most limited resources, which is oxygen. Strategic thinking equips managers and organizations with the necessary skills to utilize their limited resources effectively. Importantly noted, diving is important but not enough, which in this case is taking the first step to set up a consultation firm. Rather, strategic thinking involves the actions taken to follow up on the first step. It requires the appetite to take greater risks, focus, and the trade-offs that inherently follow. It means continually practicing the three disciplines of strategic thinking.

References

Horwath, R. (2009). Deep dive: The proven method for building strategy, focusing your resources, and taking smart action. Austin, TX: Greenleaf Book Group Press.

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