For Immediate Release
(12 MARCH 2001)

Inspiration and Insight from a Master Strategist

Edited by Tiha von Ghyczy, Bolko von Oetinger and Christopher Bassford

The Strategy Institute of The Boston Consulting Group

How can a military work from the nineteenth-century speak to the needs of today’s business world?  In the case of Carl von Clausewitz’s On War, the lessons have never been more relevant.  Clausewitz, a Prussian general and philosopher of war, has been read by many of history’s prominent leaders: Eisenhower, Patton, Lenin, and Chairman Mao.  Now, the same penetrating insights that Clausewitz offers for strategic warfare are available for the reflective strategist in today’s fast-paced and chaotic business world.

In CLAUSEWITZ ON STRATEGY: Inspiration and Insight From a Master Strategist (Wiley; May 18, 2001; $27.95; Cloth) Tiha von Ghyczy, Bolko von Oetinger, and Christopher Bassford of The Strategy Institute of The Boston Consulting Group excerpt the most relevant and timely passages from Clausewitz’s masterwork On War.  They offer a framework for readers to self-educate themselves on the nature of conflict and reveal how Clausewitz’s enduring principles can empower anyone to develop effective strategic thinking practices.  Applicable to a wide range of businesses and interests, CLAUSEWITZ ON STRATEGY is a concise and thoroughly modern examination of Clausewitz’s core concepts complete with helpful sidebars, explanations, and references.

Highly readable and engaging, CLAUSEWITZ ON STRATEGY brilliantly condenses Clausewitz’s seminal theories into a slim volume.  By rearranging the text flow of On War to emphasize key points, the authors let the reader thoroughly explore such complex subjects as the clash of wills, the dynamics and elements of strategy, attack and defense, and friction.  They look behind Clausewitz’s military message and unearth the numerous business lessons that are equally applicable to executives, middle managers, or anyone interested in developing a keener sense of strategic thinking.

As the authors explain, though Clausewitz is speaking explicitly about warfare in On War, he is also speaking directly to today’s executive, offering a wealth of insight into modern business.  “Clausewitz saw, experienced, as well as reflected and acted on the same basic realities that we face today,” the authors write.  “He can speak the executive’s mind because it his own.”   Clausewitz’s ideas have proven to be timeless because they address conditions that are universal: uncertainty, rule breaking, strategic endgames, and competition.  His theories are not based on current economic conditions; rather they lead to strategy based on the powers of observation, a broad exploration of the opportunity space, a willingness to be flexible, and an instinctive sense to make the right judgments.

As CLAUSEWITZ ON STRATEGY demonstrates, the lessons to be taken from On War are more important for business strategists in today’s unstable business environment than ever before. As Clausewitz believed, it is this very instability that gives those who are passionate, bold, and creative the motivation to develop revolutionary ways of thinking and performing.  The true strategist welcomes these times, as Clausewitz himself did more than 160 years ago.  “Carl von Clausewitz as a man is as worthy of consideration as the work itself,” the authors write.  “His values and intrinsic beliefs, more than his specific ideas, have given his work the inner coherence and the power of persuasion that have endured until modern days.  He may rightly be seen as an inspiration to all those whose ambition is to excel professionally in any field.”

About the Authors

Tiha von Ghyczy is a faculty member at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business.  He is a fellow of  The Strategy Institute of  The Boston Consulting Group.  As a former partner of BCG, he was engaged in the practice groups for manufacturing/time-based competition and high technology.

Bolko von Oetinger is a Senior Vice President of The Boston Consulting Group and Director of the firm’s Strategy Institute.  He is a member of BCG’s Technology and Communications practice and has published several articles and books on strategy and innovation.

Christopher Bassford is Professor of Strategy at the National War College in Washington D.C.  A former U.S. Army artillery officer, he is the author of several books, including Clausewitz in English: The Reception of Clausewitz in Britain and America and The Spit-Shine Syndrome: Organizational Irrationality in the American Field Army.

Inspiration and Insight From a Master Strategist
Edited by Tiha von Ghyczy, Bolko von Oetinger, and Christopher Bassford

The Strategy Institute of The Boston Consulting Group

John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

May 18, 2001; $27.95; Cloth; 0-471-41513-8

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