"In the business world, conventional wisdom holds that market leaders eventually succumb to the law of large numbers, the law of competition, and the law of competitive advantage. But in the most compelling business book on strategy this year, If You’re in a Dogfight, Become a Cat: Strategies for Long-Term Growth, Leonard Sherman assembles a convincing brief that the slowdowns companies face as they become successful and attract imitators are not inevitable....Like a skilled arborist, Sherman prunes back the ungainly, overgrown tree that strategy has become since it entered the corporate mainstream in the middle of the last century. He saws off a number of dead branches, including the many prescriptions that emerged from the countless searches for excellence, greatness, and the secrets of success. What’s left behind is an expertly trimmed tree of knowledge that brilliantly summarizes and integrates what’s been learned about strategy over the last 60 years."
"Among the better strategy books of recent years, Dogfight, by a professor at Columbia University, argues that costly battles in mature marketplaces are not inevitable. Rather, smart companies that compete on their own terms instead of locking horns can sustain profitable growth over time. In-N-Out Burger's less-is-more approach, for example, has allowed it to sidestep McDonald's new-menu-item proficiency. Yellow Tail thrived by taking the mystique out of wine to win over those who don't drink the stuff rather than those who do. The obligatory analysis of Apple is unusually thoughtful: Sherman explains how that company might combat the law of large numbers and outgrow the market in the long term. For young entrepreneurs without MBAs, Dogfight offers a quick master class in recent business history (gurus, concepts, iconic companies) along with its high-level guidance on strategy and product.
"Best strategy book: If you’re in a Dogfight, Become a Cat by Columbia Business School executive-in-residence Leonard Sherman – which also was the best title of the year – offers a good primer on strategy with his own prescribed approach.
“With an incisive writing style rarely seen in studies of business strategy, Len Sherman neatly reevaluates some corporate reputations that have failed the test of time and elevates more lasting examples from his own research. The result is that all-to-rare rare combination for books on management: advice that is as valuable as it is readable. "
-- Alex Taylor, senior editor-at-large Fortune magazine (ret.) and author of "Sixty to Zero: An inside look at the collapse of General Motors and the American auto industry
“This book provides countless concrete examples of how businesses can create real value and continuously renew competitive advantage. It’s a must-read, as relevant to senior executives as to MBA students aspiring to become next generation business leaders.”
—Marty St. George, EVP - Commercial and Planning at JetBlue Airways
“A wonderfully comprehensive view of competition and competitive strategy and illustrating it well with contemporary examples and citing of the scholarly literature and linking that to action-oriented techniques.”
—John Czepiel, Professor, New York University Stern School of Business
“Insightful, thought-provoking, and practical. Len Sherman takes us on an enjoyable journey through five decades of some of the most influential written works on business management and strategy and shows how history has judged these various concepts. He translates these observations into a framework that prompts you to drive clarity in how you can fulfill your company’s core mission behind the execution of three strategic imperatives, and ultimately drive sustained long-term profitable growth. The book is filled with numerous case studies that will inspire you to think critically about how these concepts apply to your own business. Len offers insights that would be of value to all levels of business leaders who have an interest in sharpening their strategies.”
--William Deutsch, Founder and Chairman, Deutsch Family Wines & Spirits, importer/distributor of over 25 brands of wines (including Yellow Tail) and spirits from 9 countries
“In this important book, Leonard Sherman takes on dangerous shibboleths of business strategy. Foremost among them is the purported priority of maximizing shareholder value. Too often, this goal has led to manipulating short-term earnings and stock prices, in the interests of maximizing gains to management from stock-related pay. Maximizing rewards to shareholder is the outcome of a good business strategy; it is not itself a business strategy at all.”
--Martin Wolf, Chief Economics Commentator, Financial Times
“Sherman takes a machete to standard thinking in strategy, offering up a common sense but deeply insightful, and sometimes surprising, recipe for what it takes to win in business."
--Sydney Finkelstein, Professor, Dartmouth College and author, Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent
“Leonard Sherman’s book If You’re in a Dogfight, Became a Cat!, based on his decades of business-management experience, provides a much-needed approach to sustaining an innovative enterprise. It should be read by everyone concerned about business from MBA candidates to their professors to incumbent executives. This book makes the company rather than the industry the focus of analysis, confronts the erroneous and damaging ideology that companies’ should be run to “maximize shareholder value,” and offers executives a new set of principles for strategizing about how an enterprise can be innovative. The many real-life examples that Professor Sherman provides should stimulate plenty of informed discussion about what an innovative enterprise is really about.”
--William Lazonick, Professor, University of Massachusetts Lowell and President, Academic-Industry Research Network
“A thorough study of strategy and how it needs to be done today. The author’s ability to put new strategy concepts in the context of fifty plus years of management science is a real gift. Detailed, rigorous, but never boring, this book gives every executive everything they need to know to run a business in today’s fast changing world. A rare book that combines the right elements of marketing strategy with business strategy to come up with real winning business solutions.”
--Paul F. Nunes, Global Managing Director of Thought Leadership for Accenture Research and co-author, “Big Bang Disruption: Strategy in the Age of Devastating Innovation"
“"If You’re In A Dogfight, Become A Cat! not only offers a devastating critique of the biggest and worst idea in business--maximizing shareholder value. It also offers a coherent and practical guide to the strategy of innovation that should replace it. ”
--Stephen Denning, Forbes Contributor on Leadership, and author, "The Leader's Guide to Radical Management"