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Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters Hardcover – Deckle Edge, July 19, 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 226 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business; 31625th edition (July 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307886239
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307886231
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (226 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,163 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Loyd Eskildson HALL OF FAME on July 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Rumelt's 'Good Strategy Bad Strategy' provides an excellent framework for understanding the difference between good and bad strategies. The material benefits greatly by his inclusion of good and bad strategy examples. Rumelt begins by pointing out that developing and implementing a strategy is the central task of a leader. Strategy, however, does not equate to buzzwords, values, slogans, or financial goals. Good strategy applies power where it will do the greatest good. Most organizations don't have a strategy, let alone a good one.

Good strategy almost always looks simple and obvious, and is built around one or two critical issues. Bad strategy tends to skip over problems. Strategy is about how an organization will move forward. The purpose of Rumelt's book is to clarify the differences between good and bad strategy, and help readers create good strategy. A good strategy is coherent; most organizations pursue multiple objectives that are unconnected with each other, or even conflict with each other. One way to begin is by identifying the leading competitor and asking how that company became that leader, then segueing into how one's own company could also become a leader. (My preference is more direct - ask significant/target customers for advice on how one could substantially increase business volume with them.)

Steve Jobs' turnaround of Apple in 1996 began by shrinking the firm to a scale and scope appropriate for the niche producer it was at the time (4% of the total market). Jobs got Microsoft to invest $150 million in Apple and develop new Microsoft Office software for Apple to deflect Gates' worries over antitrust prosecution.
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Format: Hardcover
I got hooked picking this book up in the airport. Really punchy start showing how most companies dont get past the Vision and Mission and actually tackle what strategy really is. Using some big name brand examples and personal anecdotes Richards explains his framework for really crafing a strategy 1. diagnosis of the issue 2 a chosen policy/pathway to deal with the issue that may include making hard decisions 3 analysis turned into reality by a coherent set of actions.

I thought the book then lost its way a little, with the middle of the book having some very long examples that often didnt explicity demonstrate the application of the new framework but instead showed that much of Michael Porters tools for analysing 'competitive advantage' still hold true which is good news!

The last couple of chapters on 'putting it together' and 'keeping your head' lacked a strond sense of summary to me and I didnt come away with a strong memory the framework, or any handy new 'tool kit' or set 'heurisitics' for making sure that I would be doing Good rather than Bad strategy. The framework was there, but it was up in the front chapters and it really only all came together for me when I compiled my main highlighted sections and margin notes into a 1-page summary (that I then write into the front cover page so I can refresh and review my work books quickly) . I reckon the book structure could have benefitted from the old 3 part framework of "tell 'em what your gonna tell 'em, tell 'em, tell 'em what ya told 'em" = Introduction, Main Body, Conclusion

worth a read for someone involved in business strategy simply to get all the anecdotes and experience that Richard has amassed but you might need to work a little harder than necessary to consolidate the 'take home messages from the book'
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I am not a strategy specialist. I run a small business and am currently co-chair of a study task force appointed to deal with issues facing our local (UMC) church. Over the years I have looked at a number of books about business planning and strategy and have found interesting things but have always felt that they were written for someone who had to "sound smart" in some meeting or presentation.

I was visiting my brother's house and started reading his copy of Good Strategy/Bad Strategy one evening. I stayed up until 3 a.m. to finish it. There is a wealth of practical wisdom here that is presented without jargon and with a nice garnish of wit.

At first I assumed the "bad strategy" concept would apply to big companies and that I could breeze through it. But, as I got ahold of the argument, I began to see bad strategy all around me. It's there in state government, in the school system, in town planning, at a park where I am a trustee, and, of course, in Washington D.C. This idea has been a real eye-opener to me and I hope that it reaches a wide audience. The benefit is not just to strategy experts, but to ordinary people who need a way of understanding what is right and wrong with the institutions around them.

Even more than the "bad strategy" idea, I found the author's approach invigorating and empowering. Dr. Rumelt doesn't tell you what to do to make a good strategy. Instead, he says that it is the product of insight. In addition, he tells us that a strategy can't be "proven" to be correct. It is simply a good guess ("hypothesis") about what will work. (I sort-of always knew this, but couldn't articulate it in the face of so much expert blather about the best way to plan.) But, he then explains ways of thinking that help generate insight.
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