Book Review: What’s Your Strategic Heartbeat?

I really enjoyed reading What’s Your Strategic Heartbeat? written by Jon Luther, the Executive Chairman of Dunkin’ Brands.  If you have paid attention to Dunkin’ Donuts lately, you can clearly see that they have made some strategic moves to put themselves back in the thick of the coffee competition.  I’ve never really thought that much about Dunkin’ Donuts until they recently opened a store here in Acworth.  They converted a bank that had failed and turned it in to a Dunkin’ Donuts restaurant that has a pretty unique drive-thru!

Every morning, my high school students and teachers come walking in with a variety of cups from different breakfast vendors near the school.  If those cups are any indication, Dunkin’ Donuts has definitely gained significant market share in the breakfast category!  I downloaded this book a few weeks ago when Amazon made it available for free on Kindle.

Below I have listed the items that I highlighted while reading…

  • Leaders take us toward or away from something, into a new reality. But change is almost always frightening, and leaders have to persuade their teams that the risks are worth taking, that the work is worth doing, and that the payoff will improve their lives.
  • In each case, I began by looking for the epicenter of the brand—the hidden or ignored strategic heartbeat that can be leveraged into a new or more powerful product or service. Each case also included the combining of seemingly paradoxical ideas and the setting of aggressive targets.
  • I had to find the strategic heartbeat of the company, the essence that would make it different from any other competitor in the space.
  • My first task was to win support for my strategy within the company. No turnaround can succeed without it.
  • The company needed someone who could see the danger of stagnating and the opportunity for transformation, and knew how to shake things up to avoid the one and seize the other. That’s what leadership is all about.
  • Leaders are optimists. Businesses never seem to run out of Doubting Thomases who will find reasons to throw cold water on any new idea. True, critics fulfill an important function, providing a skeptical point of view that any massive undertaking needs and deserves.  But leaders have to be upbeat.  If the leader isn’t optimistic, who will be?
  • Leaders know when to stop. When you’re in the midst of a turnaround, it’s tempting to change everything. My advice: Avoid change for the sake of change.
  • Leaders sweat the details. A good idea is never enough; it takes meticulous planning and execution to put the concept into practice.

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