Goals vs. Strategy

Good Strategy Bad Strategy by Richard P. Rumelt is a primer on corporate strategy, why good strategy is so hard and why we have so much bad strategy. Here are some highlights.

Bad strategy has many causes. One of the most common is confusing goals for strategy. And one reason we have so much bad strategy is an inability or refusal to choose. When given a choice, leadership says “I want it all”. That isn’t strategy.

Good strategy requires making hard choices and comes in three parts — the diagnosis, the guiding policy, and coherent action. These are all covered in depth.

The book is filled with illustrating examples of both good and bad strategy. These go beyond the standard “case study” and include the thinking processes of the executives and/or the instructor. I found that small addition increased their value immeasurably.

In addition to outlining what good strategy is and isn’t, the second part of the book outlines methods for how to build a good strategy. I expect to be using the ideas, principles, and illustrations in my career for years to come.

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