Book Review: The Reality Test
The Reality Test by Robert Rowland Smith. Profile Books. €16.99
The reality test
Robert Rowland Smith
‘When will your business die’ is one of the intriguing questions posed in Rowland’s Smith thought-provoking book. Referencing Jim Collins’ bestselling book Built to Last he notes that the majority of companies don’t actually last. Actively planning your end may in fact be a wise course as being realistic on this score liberates you to focus on a shorter-term horizon that’s more in your control. A firm that limps along for years is like a wounded fox that should be put out of its misery and there’s no nobility there.
He takes a pop at conventional strategy statements too and says that Fuji’s famous mission statement ‘Kill Kodak’ is much more on the money. The statement, he says makes the strategy real and is unflinchingly candid about the fact that the company is prepared to engage in mortal combat.
The book takes the form of a series of reality tests to help business leaders to prepare for the world as it actually is rather than what strategy would like it to be. Questions posed include: would you buy what you sell? Would you rather suffer than change? Which card would cause the house to fall? And is your brand a mask or a window?