Until the 1960's, there were few books or business courses available that focused on the topic of business strategy. Gradually, as the importance of the topic dawned on MBA providers and the business public alike, Strategy evolved as an important discipline of thought for leaders of corporate, organizational and government leaders. As the field evolved, not surprisingly, so did the cadre of people seeking to make their living teaching and consulting with others in need of better approaches and strategies. With time, the modern consulting industry was born. The Lords of Strategy is the story of the four men who invented corporate strategy as we know it and set in motion the modern, multi-billion-dollar consulting industry: Bruce Henderson, founder of Boston Consulting Group Bill Bain, creator of Bain & Company Fred Gluck, longtime Managing Director of McKinsey & Company, and Michael Porter, Harvard Business School professor.
The publisher explains that “this book is a revealing account of how these iconoclasts and the organizations they led revolutionized the way we think about business, changed the very soul of the corporation, and transformed the way we work.” Well, it’s a little more sickening and depressing than that, if you ask me. I have personally seen, for example, PPT slides that an eminent strategy consulting firm used to goad Enron into “out-of-the box” and “break-through thinking.” We all learned, of course, that simply thinking out-of-the-box can lead people into “breaking through” ethics and morals. Enron paid for this “anything goes” approach with its very existence. The consulting company that egged them on, though, is not only still at it, but is doing quite well for themselves.
Nonetheless, if you’d like to learn how today’s consulting industry came to be the way it is, then I am sure you will find The Lords of Strategy to be compelling -- if disturbing -- reading.