MBA in a Book by Joel Kurtzman • business case studies • strategic financial management

Book cover of MBA in a Book by Joel Kurtzman

A month ago I was told that the book “MBA in a Book” might be worth reading. Let’s be clear on that, it should not be treated as an equivalent of a real MBA program. As it comes to me, the greatest advantage of the book is that it is filled with a multitude of case studies and collection of strategies that might be applicable for any business practitioners. Due to the above, it requires basic or, at least, fragmented knowledge and familiarity with many different concepts from business strategy, finance until leadership.

Anyway, MBA in a Book is divided into 10 chapters: Innovation; Sustainability; Finance; Strategy; Managing; HR; Leadership; Marketing; Communication; Other Concepts (these titles are not literal – they reflect the content). I have found that some parts are more insightful, such as Management and Strategy, while other, such as Leadership and Communication are a bit shallow.

Nevertheless, the chapters I enjoyed most were the opening (Innovation), where the author, Joel Kurtzman, emphasizes the need of refining and improving the product or service the company sells. It has to be prepared for a very long learning curve in order to evaluate customer needs as the market never sleeps.

The other essay, which was very reflective, was about BSC strategy (Balanced Scorecard) – a dashboard of various of KPIs (Key Performance Indicator). In my career, I have seen many of BSCs, and most of them contained hundreds of KPIs. Once, when I joined a new business unit I got to know about a BSC (weekly!) printed as a 100-page book showing a plethora of financial and customer-related KPIs. The new board member was introduced and the BSC got thinner to 15 pages. It took a while until the same report has reached the size of the predecessor (under the same watch). I really enjoyed reading that such a BSC should reflect the core strategy of the company and should contain around 5 KPIs per one area (finance, operations, customer etc), otherwise, the company’s staff will not know what is its priority.

My last reflection regarding the publication is a bit convoluted. Sometimes the book contains a really good piece of writing (insightful, comprehensive and captivating), on other occasions, the book is a bit protracted and I had an impression that a hundred words to describe an idea the reader would clarify in 10 words.

MBA in a Book: Mastering Business with Attitude
by Joel Kurtzman

Final rating:

Interesting story
Complexity of ideas
Flourish language

Book details:

Size: 298 pages
Published: 2011


Other information and reviews of this book on Goodreads:

Other useful links:
Great interviews with Joel Kurtzman:
Joel Kurtzman on Wikipedia:
Other great book on business strategy: Good Strategy Bad Strategy by Richard Rumel

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