Strategy = Execution wins an 'Oscar' for management books

01 June 2021 3 min. read

After already being named the best business book for CEOs in the Netherlands, Strategy = Execution by Dutch management consultant Jacques Pijl has now at a global stage bagged the equivalent of an ‘Oscar’ in the world of management literature.

Last week, US publisher Axiom celebrated the 2021 winners of its prestigious Business Book Awards – the largest annual guidepost for business books published worldwide, popularly known by some as the Oscars under management books. Organised since 2008, winning books were announced across 23 different categories, including, Business Disruption, Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Career.

In the Business Theory category, this year’s gold medal went to ‘Strategy = Execution’, a book that helps executives with nailing the translation of strategic plans to tangible results. The scene is notorious for its challenges, with over 70% of transformations found to be failures (according to BCG) – not meeting the expectations set when they first were designed and approved. 

Jacques Pijl, Consultant and Author

“A strategy is just as brilliant as its execution,” said Jacques Pijl during the launch of the first edition of his Strategy = Execution book back in 2016. Penned in Dutch, the book rapidly made a mark in boardrooms, with Feike Sijbesma (the then CEO of DSM) describing the book and its sixteen building blocks for strategy execution excellence as a “must read for all executives.”

Several leading executives followed suit with humbling endorsements, including the likes of Jacques van den Broek (CEO Randstad), Ben Verwaayen (former CEO of Alcatel-Lucent) and Herna Verhagen (CEO of PostNL), and academics from leading institutions such as France’s INSEAD and Switzerland’s IMD. Not much later, Strategie = Executie became the country’s top selling management book, and was named the ‘CEO’s book of choice’ by the Dutch Financial Times.

Fast forward three years, and the book’s English edition – ‘Strategy = Execution | Faster improvement, renewal and innovation in a new era’ – last year hit the international shelves. And within a year of its debut, the book has been lauded by the award’s judges for its cutting-edge insights, practical applicability and innovativeness in a field that is now top of mind in any boardroom.

“The book is based on over four years of research by the Turner team, leveraging the insights of more than 300 sources, analysis of 75 strategy execution cases at companies, and over 60 interviews with executives,” explained Pijl, who is a partner at Turner, an award-winning Dutch management consulting firm with around 70 professionals.

“Organisations of all sizes face the risk of being disrupted by rivals or tech-savvy new market entrants. Continuity is no longer a given. To remain competitive, there is now just one law: strategy = execution. In today’s rapidly evolving world, solidity, speed and agility in execution are more important than a perfectly mapped-out strategy.” 

The prize sees Pijl join an illustrious group of former winners, including Canadian academic and business author Henry Mintzberg, Nobel laureate Robert Shiller, Pulitzer Prize winner Doris Kearns Goodwin, and former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, to name just a few.

In related news, last year the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year award – another of the leading global competitions for business books – went to No Filter by Sarah Frier, for her unique insights into the story of Instagram and its relationship with owner Facebook.