The Tribune - Spectrum


Sunday, June 8, 2003

The strategy for making strategies
B. B. Goel

Business Policy and Strategic Management
by Sukul Lomash and P.K. Mishra. Vikas, Delhi. Pages xxiv+381. Rs 180.

Business Policy and Strategic ManagementSTRATEGIC management in the current market scenario is one of the trustworthiest signs of good governance. It is an analytical thinking process, thereby committing resources for the profitability and viability of a venture. It is fundamentally a market driven and customer-oriented entrepreneurial activity and aims at capitalising market opportunities.

Without a strategy, an organisation is like a ship without a rudder, leading to organisational drift, mediocrity and lacklustre results. Strategic management is a continuous process. It is a tightly knit process of conceiving a vision, mission and objectives, crafting a strategy, operationalising, monitoring and evaluating the plan.

The book under review, a collaborative effort of Lomash and Mishra, two seasoned intellectuals, is a painstaking masterpiece in management literature. The book, divided in 14 inter-woven chapters, is an attempt at lucidly describing the gamut of business policy and strategic management.

The introductory chapter explaining the rationale of business planning emphasises the need for designing strategies, viz. a unified, comprehensive and integrated proactive plan based on established decision-making approaches for sustenance and growth of an enterprise. The authors rightly suggest that it is always wise to select a new planning theme every year even though strategic management is a time consuming and repetitive activity.


The next chapter summarises the significance and components of strategic management processes, defining vision, mission, purpose, objectives, as well as formulating, implementing and evaluating strategies that are discussed in detail thereafter.

The authors are, however, conscious that these processes are evolutionary and any professional sitting in a closed compartment cannot bring miracles or come out with magical strategies. While "vision" portrays future scope, and one cannot escape it, "mission statement," an internal agenda of an enterprise, is invariably focussed on capabilities and is very specific, sharp and detailed.

The environmental domains of an organisation, its components and techniques and approaches used for environmental scanning follow in the next chapter. After all, a change in environment triggers off a series of reactions. As such, the cost, time and effort spent for scanning truly justify the efforts that go into the entire exercise. Along with analysis of environment in the industry at home, the authors also scan the multinational environment as in the wake of information technology the world has shrunk.

A company deploys a variety of diagnostic tools in identifying and evaluating alternative strategies. A strategist, therefore, has to narrow down his choices to a few effective strategies to derive the maximum benefits. This is the most difficult exercise. More so, subjectivity, intrinsic and extrinsic factors, and risk-taking capability influence the choice. For this, the authors have come out with various options whereby a thought-out strategy can be ultimately finalised. Even then, the problem continues to persist until and unless it is effectively operationalised.

There is a full-length chapter on organisational design and theories, forms of organisational structure and appropriate leadership for implementing strategies. It is followed by designing a highly dynamic strategic control system. The identification of deviations with planned milestones not only develops a cause-and-effect relationship, but also goes a long way in devising standards of performance so that management can initiate corrective measures for effective performance. The last chapter provides the efficacy of the case-study approach in finding solutions to strategic problems.

The book has illustrations and experiences both from India and abroad, alongwith charts, graphs and case studies, leaving hardly any scope for a layman to miss the intricacies of strategic management.