Strategy x 3Guilt-ridden about your company\u2019s outdated?or nonexistent?strategic plan? Three recently published books may restore your confidence that your company can succeed at this vitally important task.So why exactly does the topic of strategic planning raise corporate angst levels? Perhaps, as Stephen J. Wall suggests in On the Fly, it\u2019s because strategic planning requires confronting unpleasant realities, such as change and uncertainty.Wall, a consultant in strategic management and leadership, argues in this engaging and well-written book that in spite of their aversion to the process of strategic planning, organizations actually need strategic focus now more than ever. Instead of the traditional plug-and-play method of strategic planning, however, companies need a "meta-strategy," not a strategy so much as a method of doing strategy that\u2019s essentially a process of continual learning. Key to this approach is top-to-bottom involvement, where people at all levels of the company contribute to strategic decisions. The result, Wall says, is not a static plan but an outlook for the long run that can flex and adapt to changing business conditions.One topic that\u2019s not specifically addressed in On the Fly is that of technology strategy and its integration with overall corporate strategy. If interest among readers of CIO is any indicator, however, it\u2019s clear that the Balanced Scorecard metric developed by Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton covers that niche for many IT executives. The publication of Strategy Maps is a hat trick for the authors, with their previous books, The Balanced Scorecard (1996) and The Strategy-Focused Organization (2000). The authors believe three components are required for a strategy to be successfully executed: its description, its measurement and its management. "Strategy maps"?visual representations of how a strategy diffuses throughout an organization?are gaining acceptance as a natural and powerful means of description, they say. One caveat, however: Readers new to the Balanced Scorecard concept should not start with this one, but bone up with one (or both) of the authors\u2019 earlier books.Even older than PowerPoint slides as a "visual representation of strategy" is the game of chess. Its "strategists" are the chess masters and grand masters who over centuries developed the game\u2019s stratagems, attacks and defenses that bear their names (Alekhine\u2019s Defense, for example). In Every Move Must Have a Purpose, author Bruce Pandolfini (himself a chess master and coach) asserts that chess principles make excellent advice in the business world. Each chapter is devoted to one principle and concludes with a quick business analogy to drive the point home. The best advice this book offers?and it\u2019s inadvertently?is that playing chess is an excellent way to develop analytical and strategic skills. Every Move makes a persuasive case that the strategists of the Royal Game were and are indeed a group of geniuses, eccentrics and cutthroats who could easily go toe-to-toe on strategy with a Larry Ellison or Jack Welch.-Carol ZarrowCIO Best-Seller List\n5. The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron\nBy Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind\nPortfolio, 2003\n\n4. Now, Discover Your Strengths:\nBy Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton\nThe Free Press, 2001\n3. Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done\nBy Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan\nCrown Publishing Group, 2002\n2. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...and Others Don\u2019t\nBy Jim Collins\nHarperCollins Publishers, 2001\n1. In an Uncertain World: Tough Choices from Wall Street to Washington\nBy Robert Rubin and Jacob Weisberg\nRandom House, 2003\nSOURCE: Data from December 2003, compiled by Borders Group, Ann Arbor, Mich.