|Print List Price:||$29.95|
Save $14.96 (50%)
Random House LLC
Price set by seller.
Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters Kindle Edition
|New from||Used from|
|Length: 336 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
Switch back and forth between reading the Kindle book and listening to the Audible book with Whispersync for Voice. Add the Audible book for a reduced price of $9.49 when you buy the Kindle book.
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
“So much that’s said and written about strategy is – from my point of view – complete junk, that I get excited when I hear someone focusing on strategy in a coherent and useful way...A very good book.” --Forbes
“The year’s best and most original addition to the strategy bookshelf." --Strategy+Business
"The whole middle section, about sources of power, is valuable—particularly the explication of the limitations and nuances of competitive advantage.” --Inc
"Clearly written, thoughtful...This book is painful therapy but a necessary read nonetheless." --Washington Times
"Represents the latest thinking in strategy and is peppered with many current real world examples. Good Strategy/Bad Strategy has much to offer and has every chance of becoming a business classic.” --Management Today
"Drawing on a wealth of examples, Rumelt identifies the critical features that distinguish powerful strategies from wimpy ones—and offers a cache of advice on how to build a strategy that is actually worthy of the name. If you're certain your company is already poised to out-perform its rivals and out-run the future, don't buy this book. If, on the other hand, you have a sliver of doubt, pick it up pronto!” --Gary Hamel, co-author of Competing for the Future
“..Brilliant … a milestone in both the theory and practice of strategy... Vivid examples from the contemporary business world and global history that clearly show how to recognize the good, reject the bad, and make good strategy a living force in your organization.” --John Stopford, Chairman TLP International, Professor Emeritus, London Business School
“… Penetrating insights provide new and powerful ways for leaders to tackle the obstacles they face. The concepts of "the kernel" and "the proximate objective" are blockbusters. This is the new must-have book for everyone who leads an organization in business, government, or in-between.” --Robert A. Eckert, chairman and CEO of Mattel
“…. Richly illustrated and persuasively argued … the playbook for anybody in a leadership position who must think and act strategically. “ --Michael Useem, Professor of Management at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and author of The Leadership Moment
“… Rumelt writes with great verve and pulls no punches as he pinpoints such strategy "sins" as fluff, blue sky objectives, and not facing the problem.” --James Roche, former Secretary of the Air Force and president of Electronic Sensors & Systems, Northrop Grumman.
“This is the first book on strategy I have read that I have found difficult to put down. --John Kay, London Business School
About the Author
- File Size : 6607 KB
- Publication Date : July 19, 2011
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print Length : 336 pages
- Publisher : Currency; 1st Edition (July 19, 2011)
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B004J4WKEC
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #31,527 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
“Like is an understatement. Rumelt’s kernel of Strategy is the most powerful, supple approach for creating clarity and coherence on strategy I’ve yet encountered.”
Art’s no novice. He’s been an effective executive and an effective consultant for decades. He works with clients on strategy. And, guess what? The book lived up to Art’s recommendation and then some.
The kernel of Strategy that Art referred to is a great reason to read the book, even if that’s all you get out of it. Here’s Rumelt’s description of the kernel.
“A good strategy has an essential logical structure that I call the kernel. The kernel of a strategy contains three elements: a diagnosis, a guiding policy, and coherent action. The guiding policy specifies the approach to dealing with the obstacles called out in the diagnosis. It is like a signpost, marking the direction forward but not defining the details of the trip. Coherent actions are feasible coordinated policies, resource commitments, and actions designed to carry out the guiding policy”.
The kernel isn’t a magic formula. It’s a guide to the most important hard work you will do to create a strategy. If you’re a consultant, it’s a quick way to help you figure out if your client has a strategy or not. As Rumelt points out in the book, a lot of things masquerade as strategy. Plans and slogans and goals can look like strategy until you analyze them with a tool like the kernel.
What makes creating a great strategy hard is that it involves choices, and we don’t like choices. We also don’t like hard work, so we skip the hard parts and just do the parts that are fun.
In my experience, an awful lot of companies spend a day or so developing their strategy. They substitute discussion for diagnosis. Talk replaces analysis. Then they trot out some fine-sounding generalities instead of taking time to craft guiding principles. Biz-speak often replaces clear language here. There’s a lot of talk about what to do, but precious little about how to coordinate activities.
Most of those companies spend most of their time on what they’re going to do, after skipping the hard parts of diagnosis and guiding principles. Art says that, since reading Rumelt, he spends more time on the strategy process. He spends half of the time on diagnosis, another 40 percent on what Rumelt calls the guiding philosophy, and 10 percent on coherent actions. It’s much harder to do it that way than it is to go off to an offsite and whip up some generalities that sound good but don’t have much impact on day-to-day work life.
Here’s what it comes down to. The kernel is the way you develop a good strategy. The kernel is also the way that you identify bad strategy, whether it’s yours or someone else’s. Now that I’ve read this book, I won’t think about doing strategy the same way ever again. Rumelt has helped me know some danger signals to watch for. And he’s given me a language for guiding the process of creating and evaluating a strategy.
The kernel is reason enough to buy and read this book, but there are lots of other goodies here, too. There’s analysis of many business situations that I found both absorbing and compelling.
There’s one other thing you can take away from this book. Even when you do the work to create and execute a good strategy, you can still not succeed. You can make bad choices, even with a good process. Luck still plays a role. Unforeseen events play a role. The competition plays a role.
This book was written in 2006. Rumelt makes several predictions about how some things will play out in the years ahead. He gets some of them right, some of them wrong, and some of them a mix of both. That’s a good thing because it demonstrates what’s true in real life. There are times when you can do everything wrong and have things turn out right. And there are times when you can do everything right and still go down in flames.
One of my favorite quotes about life is from the American writer and horseplayer, Damon Runyon. It goes like this: “The race may not always be to the swift, nor victory to the strong, but that’s the way you bet.” Developing a good strategy is the hard work of figuring out how to bet.
In A Nutshell
Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters by Richard Rumelt gives you a roadmap that will help you develop better strategy. Ironically, that will make your work harder. Thankfully, it will also increase your odds of success.
If you aren’t sure what a strategy is, you would probably have your mind blown by reading the book. Having a strategy means you align all of your efforts in a cohesive design so that your scarce resources like time, energy, and money all reinforce one another.
Most people’s “strategy” is something like “achieve these 94 goals”. They don’t account for the fact that simply working harder won’t necessarily achieve results and that doing all that work in the timeframe you’ve allotted probably isn’t possible.
According to Rumelt, a good strategy has
1. A problem diagnosis, i.e. what is the most important or fundamental problem you need to solve?
2. A guiding policy, which addresses the problem by leveraging one or more advantages, and simplifies complexity by defining an objective that strategically focuses efforts (think of guard rails on a highway – they keep traffic moving in the same direction but don’t force you into just one lane), and
3. A set of coherent actions aligned with that guiding policy.
Once you have a strategy, it becomes much clearer what to work on and what not to work on. I think that’s useful for everyone, since no matter how hard we work, we can only finish so much work in a given time!
On the positive side, the book is worth its purchase price for the clarity Rumelt offers on how to create good strategy. He uses the `kernel' method emphasizing the need to identify the structure of a current business challenge, choosing a `guiding policy' for dealing with the challenge, and lastly designing a series of actions or resource allocations in order to implement the `guiding policy'. With his solid advice and focus on action items as the underlying mechanism for effective business strategy, it begs the question in today's market, `how can so many of today's corporations issue strategies that are `fluff' and no action. Rumelt hits the nail on the head with the majority of the examples he uses, one of which, after peeling away the layers of a corporate bank's `strategy' the core message is a bank exists to be a bank. Rumelt uses the bank example to show what strategy is not. Strategy is not a goal setting, is not a budget and is not a laundry list of lofty desirable outcomes. Good strategy is specific and action-oriented.
In the same vein, another positive point for the `Good Strategy Bad Strategy' content is that Rumelt identifies the core element to initiating a good strategy: "discovering the critical factors in a situation" and creating a set of actions to deal with the situation. The emphasis on taking action is a key component of the book. It is often missing in the cultural jargon and `fluff' that other strategic books espouse. In this book, strategy is not disguised as a company's mission and/or values. Additionally, Rumelt highlights that a coherent strategy does not consist of companies with too many objectives; as this ultimately results in a loss of focus.
On the other side of the coin, after Chapter 6 the reader will need to have patience to work through the concepts and examples Rumelt presents. It would be most beneficial if the reader is already well-versed in management strategy and/or has years of on the job experience in order to best apply and thoroughly understand his examples on proximate objectives, chain-link systems and inertia and entropy. The examples come more from his personal consulting experiences and the demonstrative stories are not as direct and to the point as the examples in his first few chapters. The overarching concepts are relevant to strategy, but again unless the reader is well-versed in management strategy the application or replication of these concepts may prove difficult.
Overall, `Good Strategy Bad Strategy' is a recommended read for those interested in business strategy. The no-nonsense approach is refreshing and there are definite `pearls' of strategic wisdom in the book. There are a myriad of examples from history and business cases in which Rumelt's strategic advice draws upon. However, the reader should keep in mind that the later sections of the book are lackluster compared to the first few chapters. With that said, the book should still be given a chance and is worth its investment. All in all, the book is a `mixed bag', but take a chance and see for yourself.
Top reviews from other countries
Richard Rumelt attempts and (I think) achieves this not only with a clear concept (what he calls the "kernel") but with very sound and thoroughly researched justifications. But he doesn't stop there.
For example, he shows the effect of varying the "diagnosis" (the first part of the kernel) and how that can radically change the strategy, with detailed analyses of real situations. This goes beyond the normal "statement of the bleeding obvious" (e.g. the success of Gerstner's transformation of IBM into a service organisation being the salvation of the company) into a detailed walk through of how other analysts' conventional wisdom got it wrong.
I'm not going to summarise the book (you can look at the contents and "Look Inside" features for that), but students of strategy will see familiar concepts here: current situation/challenge definition (the "diagnosis"), policy and coherent action plans. True, all of this and perhaps even more is covered in other works, by Porter and others. And of course outlining the bad helps throw the good into stark relief.
But what I think you'll find here is something I've not seen often enough in strategy writing. Beyond the relatively standard and proven methods like Porter's Five Forces (for which he gives full credit), and case studies, what you'll get here is a keen analysis that breaks things down to the common sense fundamentals. This analysis is backed up with solid research, across so many sectors, that you will probably find some parallels to your situation.
So, you don't just get why the IBM's transformation strategy worked, you'll get a critical analysis of their prior situation and all the other so-called leading opinions on the subject at the time, including how they missed the mark by forgetting some simple basics (in this case, knowing the unique strengths). All of this is backed up with good use of analogy, to help you absorb the key points rapidly.
Very usefully - and far more useful than templates - he provides some very simple methods to drill down on specifics. For example, he provides simple methods, with examples, that help you identify sources of power, how to accurately identify a company strategy's when even they don't know (the Crown Cork & Seal case study is very useful here), how to apply Porter's Five Forces model to critically assess a market, even if it is very new to you, and even how to win over hard-nosed cynics on the value of strategy.
I like also that he doesn't pull his punches. The tone is usually respectful and academic, but down to earth. However, he cannot resist a few swipes at poor strategy and, indeed, even individuals he has met and had disagreement with in the past. There is an almost "Office Space" like decrying of template strategy that is only a hair's breadth away from Ron Livingstone's railing against "listening to eight different bosses droning on about mission statements". But I can allow him this indulgence because it is always in the context of describing bad strategy.
He's also unafraid to tell it like it is: recounting his discussion with Steve Jobs shortly after his return to Apple, he reveals not the detail of the strategy that Jobs was later to devise, but the simplicity and confidence of Jobs' approach to strategy as being as much "waiting for the next big thing" as anything else. Some might think Jobs flippant, but Rumelt proceeds to articulate why waiting for the right time or confluence of events (riding the waves of change, as he puts it) can be so important to latching not just onto any strategy, but the right strategy.
He is also fairly expansive in collating and presenting other useful perspectives, such as the school of critical thinking, which whilst not strictly strategy, is nonetheless an essential tool.
On the downside, whilst the conversational nature of this book is likeable, it can be frustrating if you want to get to "the bit that deals with x, y or z". And there are no "templates" or tools to use: he is quite clear that this is often the route to bad strategy, substituting for clear analysis and critical thinking (indeed, I was left agreeing with him that templates are a blocker, not an aide). But I don't think that's how this book is meant to be used.
This is simultaneously a book for the beginner, as well as a book for the experienced practitioner. Whilst it does a consummate job of explaining the fundamentals is a compelling way, it also would be beneficial to those people who know how to do this, but maybe would benefit from a fresh perspective. I certainly found it refreshing to go back through some of my strategy work and see it anew, with perhaps more critical and a clearer understanding of its flaws.
I personally found this book far more valuable read cover-to-cover than as a book to dip into. As such, you might want to try this as an audiobook: I found this a very effective way to consume it, being very much like listening into a really good business radio programme on Radio 4 (or NPR, for our American cousins).
Mr Rumelt goes back to the basics of the discipline and remind us what a good strategy is (not a financial objective and/or a list of "strategic priorities" or empty rhetoric or a half-baked vision full of buzzwords...).
He then articulates how to formulate a good strategy, without hiding how difficult it is.
No templates here, no easy success formula based on "best practices", no check-lis... Only insights and lots of food for thoughts from a master strategist.