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Customer Review

83 of 102 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, August 3, 2011
This review is from: Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters (Hardcover)
Based on the glowing reviews, I bought and read this book with great anticipation. As I read the first several chapters, I kept thinking, "Boy, this is going to be really good." The frequency of my highlighting corroborated that. Then, after Chapter 5, The Kernel of a Good Strategy, I expectantly plunged forward thinking the author was finally going to parse his strategy model and give examples -- good and bad -- in which strategy makers had departed from his model. Instead, chapters meandered through "fluffy" (to use one of the author's pejoratives) notions like "proximate objectives" and "chain link systems" and "using dynamics" and "inertia and entropy". Where is this going, I asked? Alas, nowhere. The author had lost his way, my highlighting tailed off to nothing, and I struggled to finish -- which I've just done.

Beyond the promise of those first few chapters, the rest of the book is a brain dump of disjointed concepts, jargon, and not a few self-serving examples of consulting engagements in which Dr. Rumelt's strategic insight was put on conspicuous display.

To employ a technique he recommended in his expository on the Tivo case: I wondered what motivated all of these surplus chapters. The only conclusion I could come to was that Rumelt had sufficient material to write about five chapters, but not much more.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 6, 2011 9:09:24 AM PDT
Yep. I agree. The book lacked good strategy. Because if it had good strategy, then the author could have made due with the amount of material he had.

Posted on Aug 11, 2011 7:11:04 PM PDT
Rob Rudges says:
I don't agree that Part II was "surplus" or "fluff." Did you find Mike Porter's Competitive Strategy disjointed because he didn't spend all his pages expanding on the three "generic strategies?"

Posted on Sep 13, 2011 3:30:30 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 13, 2011 3:32:14 AM PDT
If you want to read a book about how to design a strategy, read from the master, Bruce Henderson (founder of BCG).
There is a small book - the Logic of Business Strategy, should be mandatory. It is a very short book, but presents some of the major ideas behind strategy. ( Look at China today, and think about what the Chinese have learned from Bruce Henderson.) It is not a romance like most American Business books are written.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 20, 2011 12:54:15 PM PST
Martin A says:
I agree too.

I'm two-thirds the way through and the author seems to be wandering at random.

However, his meanderings are nonetheless generally interesting and sometimes thought-provoking - and his boasting accounts of his consultancy engagements are often entertaining.

Posted on Feb 12, 2012 10:04:33 AM PST
I have read the book and could not agree more with this review. Part I is great and Parts II and III include nothing more than some interesting stories and disjointed concepts.

Posted on Jun 25, 2012 10:01:23 AM PDT
Biscorick says:
I thought Sections 1 and 3 were pretty solid. Section 2 definitely meanders and seems like wasted text.
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