Book Club – Deep Dive by Rich Horwath

Every year I let my team pick a book that some will become the basis of our monthly book club, this year they chose a book called Deep Dive by Rich Horwath. The book focuses on how to implement strategic planning as a team by focusing on three disciplines; acumen or understanding your business environment, allocation or understanding your resources, and action or how to implement a system using your resources that will fit in your business environment.

We chose this book primarily because it focuses on an aspect of planning that while not necessarily a weakness for us is something that my team isn’t often involved in. The fact that I’m the only one who scored with Strategic in the Strengths 2.0 test we took years ago didn’t occur to anyone and the hope was that going through this book we would as a team understand the process better and be able to incorporate this into our team planning going forward.

What I didn’t see going into this book was how difficult it would be to translate the examples, which are at a business plan level, to our solutions development level. My team is excellent at tactical planning because that is what we do on a daily basis; triage issues as they come up and figure out the best way to go forward. When we’re looking at projects or process is at a higher level it’s really more about how to implement the idea – to a large extent we are relatively disconnected from the core problem we are solving.

What I did find was useful was the amount of reiteration of concepts each chapter has really centering on examples that speak directly to the topic introduced and then closing on a summary of those concepts and how they relate to a business. I do feel like we gained quite a bit through reading this book in understanding how to better assess plans and look for risks and developing contingencies, how to the right questions. Also, the chapter on company mission and vision statements gave an excellent opportunity for an in depth look at our own company, we actually took an additional session to do a review of our company’s mission and vision statements , scored them based on the criteria in the book and then rewrote the statements so that they would score higher.

If you’re looking for a good book, a solid how-to, on strategic planning at a high level, this book is excellent.  The chapters is fairly concise and easy to do on a weekly basis if you want to move through it faster.  The ‘pearls of insight’ sections are a great springboard for group discussion and there are also opportunities to do some practical exercises sprinkled throughout the book.  In general I enjoyed the book, the team less so given the context issue, over all though it was a good read and an easy one to implement in a book club structure but perhaps not the right book for my team.

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