The Back Story – Wheel of Fortune

This is the back story to the book Wheel of Fortune.

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Several years ago, Massimo Torinesi, who had read and liked several books I had written, ventured to contact me to get to know me and inquire about working together to deliver workshops and seminars in Italy. After a while of getting to know each other via e-mail and later at lunch at a restaurant in New Haven, Connecticut in 2013, Massimo, invited me to Italy to co-lead workshops and give talks on topics ranging from Lean leadership to kaizen to Speed Leadership. I made several visits to Italy to deliver workshops and lectures until COVID-19 came along. Over the years we developed a wonderful friendship and working relationship, speaking almost weekly in recent times. It has been a great collaboration.

For the past few years Massimo talked about collaborating on a book about strategy. He was familiar with my work analyzing strategy failures and he has read much and consulted with his clients on strategy, but was dissatisfied with how most business leaders typically understood strategy, how they developed strategy, and how they executed strategy. I was busy with other book projects and deferred until the fall of 2020. We began writing the book in mid-December 2020 and completed it one month later.

In this book, we sought to present new ideas about business strategy and describe how the requirement for strategy is more of a social construct — a requirement simply resulting from that fact that other CEOs do it — rather than an actual need. We also examine how business strategies are generally uncreative copies based on traditional business thinking. Importantly, we focus on both a method for formally analyzing failed strategies and a method for assessing candidate strategies to determine if they contain defects that will lead to failure.

Both Massimo and I are not the typical thinkers on the subjects that we know about, including strategy. We are both creatives in different ways and see things in both complementary and contrasting terms, which makes for a great co-author pairing. It was fun working with Massimo on this book and on all of our other projects as well. He was able to keep up with my frenetic pace of ideation, writing, and editing! When we were done, I told him:

So, having worked with me on the book, you now know my deep secrets to speedy writing and publication. Kaizen! Nobody else knows the secrets, except for my wife.

After having authored or co-authored and published 23, now 24 books, since 2003, you would think I would have good processes. And I do, continuously improved over 17 years. Once the research phase is completed, the average time from writing and publishing is one or two months, rather than the nine to 12 months or more that it typically takes.

Wheel of Fortune is a small book, one that gets straight to the hear of business strategy, and is packed with a lot of useful information and insightful analysis. Massimo and I hope that readers find it to be illuminating and that it propels leaders to make practical improvements to strategy development and execution.

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Bob Emiliani and Massimo Torinesi standing in front of a statue of Leonardo da Vinci in downtown Milan.
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