Strategy book review: Killing Giants by @note_to_cmo

Killing Giants

As someone who not just enjoys reading but also practicing strategic thinking, I just had to read Killing Giants by Stephen Denny.

Most startup advice tells us to not worry about the competition. To not set out to kill the giant in the industry. But sometimes things don’t go according to plan. If anything, thinking about stuff ahead of time and acknowledging that you are in a competitive environment and that these things could happen really matters.

Though the name of the book implies that there’s a competitor, I think the real Giants are the unforeseen problems that not even the competition is seeing. It’s also the giant blinder (psychological biases) that’s inside of us that needs to be killed.

That’s the message behind Killing Giants.

Most of the strategies in the book (or anywhere) are psychological in nature. For example the strategy of ‘Eat the Bug’ makes the point that Giants, just like people, get stuck in doing things in a certain way. This provides an opening to do what they are unwilling, and sometimes unable, to do.

The other strategy is ‘Thin Ice’ where you force a giant to play in unfamiliar territory, where they can’t use their strengths. Where their legs shake because they feel insecure, giving you a better opportunity to win.

For fans of strategy, most of these strategies are not new. You heard about them in some way or another from Sun Tzu in The Art of War, the Chinese text The 36 Stratagems and synthesized in The 33 Strategies of War.

What you’ll take away from this book though is how they apply to your world, not just military history. Plus, he keeps it simple. Only 10 strategies, not 100 or more. You have to love that!

Stephen Denny has written an excellent book that will stretch your mind in terms of thinking about strategy, with great stories about companies from around the world that used these strategies to their advantage. It’s definitely a useful book!

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