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Good Strategy/Bad Strategy: The difference and why it matters [Hardcover]

Richard Rumelt
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)

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Book Description

9 Jun 2011
Even though everyone is talking about it, there is no concept in business today more muddled than 'strategy'. Richard Rumelt, described by McKinsey Quarterly as 'a giant in the field of strategy' and 'strategy's strategist', tackles this problem head-on in a jargon-free explanation of how to develop and take action on strategy, in business, politics and beyond.Rumelt dispels popular misconceptions about strategy - such as confusing it with ambitions, visions or financial goals - by very practically showing that a good strategy focuses on the challenges a business faces, and providing an insightful new approach for overcoming them. His sharp analysis and his brilliant, bold style make his book stand out from its competitors (something that Rumelt himself says is crucial).Rumelt has always challenged dominant thinking, ever since, in 1972, he was the first person to uncover a statistical link between corporate strategy and profitability - and this is his long-awaited tour de force.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (9 Jun 2011)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1846684803
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846684807
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13.2 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 142,503 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'A milestone in both the theory and practice of strategy' --John Stopford, Emeritus Professor, London Business School

`This is the first book on strategy I have read that I have found difficult to put down.' --John Kay, London Business School

'Richly illustrated and persuasively argued' --Michael Useem, Professor of Management at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and author of 'The Leadership Moment'

`The new must-have book for everyone who leads an organization--business, government, or in-between.' --Robert Eckert, Chairman and CEO of Mattel

'Has every chance of becoming a business classic...' --Management Today

'Avoids the pretentious, overblown jargon which often renders great ideas and insights inaccessible' --Insider (Scotland)

Book Description

The magnum opus from 'strategy's strategist', shortlisted for the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award 2011

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I've been very impressed with this book and would be happy to recommend it to anybody who would like to define a real strategy.

By that I mean, as the book explains, not just churning out boilerplate wishful-thinking Vision Statements and Financial Projections, but a serious approach to creating a methodical and actionable strategy to overcome a seemingly infinite number of potential problems faced in business and every other sphere of life where strategic thought is required.

As a small business owner I have found this book to be invaluable for generating ideas and direction for my business efforts.

Another point that should be mentioned is to do with credibility. If you needed any further convincing that this book is a worthwhile read, buried a third of the way into the book is the fact that the author is a former NASA engineer, as well as a long-time researcher of strategy. He has interviewed many top level strategists, including the likes of Steve Jobs. The information shared is, by all accounts, very well founded.

Highly recommended.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
By Robert Morris TOP 500 REVIEWER
As the title of this review correctly indicates, Richard Rumelt is convinced (and I agree) that a good strategy can provides both a timely head's up to imminent challenges and guidance when preparing to respond effectively to them. With surgical skill and (to my delight) a light touch, he explains what a good strategy is. In fact, he also explains what is and isn't a strategy, good or bad. Moreover, he cites dozens of real-world examples to illustrate which strategies succeed, which fail, and why. Both good and bad strategies are a result of a process so Rumelt correctly examines both good and bad processes, each of which involves a sequence of decisions. Thus a good strategy is the result of a process of correct decisions; a bad strategy is the result of a process of incorrect decisions.

One of Rumelt's valuable insights suggests that a decision is correct if (huge IF) it is appropriate to the given needs, interests, resources, and objectives. This is what Peter Drucker had in mind (in 1963) when observing, "There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all." Many years later, Michael Porter made essentially the same point when suggesting that "the essence of strategy is choosing what not to do." Rumelt's purpose in the book is to awaken his reader "to the dramatic differences between good strategy and bad strategy and to give [his reader] a leg up toward crafting good strategies." Rumelt nails the "what," devoting most of his attention to the "how" and "why.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear your head 25 Jun 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm not exaggerating when I say that reading this book made me think more clearly.

The author describes what strategy IS, and describes how to distinguish good from bad. It's the kind of stuff that's obvious - but only AFTER you've had it pointed it out to you.

He goes into a clear breakdown of what makes bad strategy (wishful thinking, not understanding the problem, etc.) and good strategy (knowing what the problem is, actionable etc.). The tips on how to detect bad strategy are worth reading. One of them is to watch out for "fluff" --- I love this definition of cloud computing from an EU report: "an elastic execution environment of resources involving multiple stakeholders and providing a metered service at multiple granularities for a specified level of quality-of-service". (In case you wondered what your EU taxes were being spent on).

It's easy reading and quite short, you can probably read most of it on a 2 hour flight, and it's worth the time; really recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eminently readable and thought provoking. 24 Dec 2011
After working in a UK subsidiary of a major oil company I was taken aback by how much bad strategy I had witnessed over the years. When Rumelt talks about "Dog's Dinner Objectives" my heart sank. I vividly remember watching a 146 slide presentation on "Retail Strategy" which was to supposed to be a distillation of our core strategy! The chapter on inertia and entropy is thought provoking as well. The need for simplification in order to break organizational culture should be a wakeup call to CEO's of major organizations everywhere.
Highly Recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From a scientist 17 Nov 2011
Having never read a book on strategy before, and having just finished reading The Social Animal, I felt that there was no better time to further add to the diversity on my bookshelf. Straight from the first pages I was learning something and I could sense and feel Richard Rumelt walking me through the text or rather transporting me to one of his classes and challenging me to think about what I was taking in. I often found myself rereading sections but this was mostly to make entirely sure that I was following and taking up the key points. You really begin to feel as you progress through the book that you will never approach a project, challenge or problem the same way again. The book was incredibly easy to read and full of interesting, insightful and deeply relevant stories to help support the ideas discussed. I will forever remember the kernel of good strategy.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars very insightful
I bought this book a while back and never got around to reading it until a few days ago. Since I picked it up I couldn't drop it! Read more
Published 2 months ago by Anthony E. Ezekwesili
5.0 out of 5 stars I would recommend this book on strategy
Rumelt is an engineer turned business strategist who shines a light on the characteristics of a good strategy. Well worth reading.
Published 2 months ago by T. J. Stephenson
5.0 out of 5 stars Good strategy / bad strategy
A recommended book to help with understanding the subject, used during OU course. Trouble is the course reading requirements are tough and finding the time to read this cover to... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Albert
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Similar to the Engineers he mentions in his book, I had previously deemed strategy as a "fluffy" subject - this book has changed my mind - an enjoyable read with background stories... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Joshua Newnham
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating trip through strategy
This book must be essential reading for captains of industry, ministers, and generals! The lessons are clear and manifold, and the books is very readable. Read more
Published 4 months ago by a little bit of a grumpy old so and so
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding
If you only read one book about business strategy in your life, it has to be this one. It is perfect for MBA students, entrepreneurs, and investment bankers. Read more
Published 4 months ago by K Halifax
4.0 out of 5 stars Clear and insightful.
Really enjoyable and sharp book on strategy with great real world cases from business and history. Could be improved with some light editing as I found there were a few more 'key'... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Jack S
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive, Enlighting - a must read
Rumelt has synthetise in a very compelling way sound theories and managerial wisdom, acquired over years of practicing strategy. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Davide Sola
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely worth a read
I'm not actually quite sure why I bought this, because I'm not really into management-type books; but I'm glad I did and I'm glad I read it. Read more
Published 5 months ago by O. Benson
3.0 out of 5 stars The authors obviously astute insight into strategy seems masked by an...
This book was suggested reading for a module I happen to be undertaking. If not for this, I probably would have put it down 6 chapters in.
Published 6 months ago by Permon Davidoff
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