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53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wealth of research and experience, all clearly laid out
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...
Published on 14 Jun 2011 by Luke Spear

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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A long book with one good idea
This is a long book with cherry picked examples of good strategies which illustrate the author's one idea:

Objectives are not strategies. Strategies are plans for getting something done.

That seems a sensible idea to me, but beyond that the book is (admittedly interesting) examples + fluff.
Published on 4 Jan 2012 by Ransen Owen


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53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wealth of research and experience, all clearly laid out, 14 Jun 2011
By 
Luke Spear (Derbyshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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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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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How and why a good strategy "acknowledges the challenges being faced and provides an approach to overcome them", 9 Aug 2011
By 
Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas) - See all my reviews
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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."

Here is a partial list of the real-world situations that Rumelt rigorously examines:

o How Steve Jobs saved Apple
o General Schwarzkopf's strategy in Desert Storm
o Discovering Wal-Mart's secret
o How blue-sky objectives miss the mark
o Pivot points at 7-Eleven and the Brandenburg Gate

Note: More about "pivot points' later

o Why Kennedy's goal of landing on the moon was a proximate and strategic objective
o [How] Hannibal defeats the Roman army in 216 B.C.
o What bricklaying teaches us about deepening advantage
o Deduction is enough only if you know everything worth knowing
o The worst industry structure imaginable

These and other mini-case studies reveal why strategy is, like a scientific hypothesis, "an educated prediction of how the world works. The ultimate worth of a strategy is determined by its success, not its acceptability to a council of philosophers or a board of editors. Good strategy work is necessarily empirical and pragmatic. Especially in business, whatever grand notions a person may have about the products or services the world might need, or about human behavior, or about how organizations should be managed, what does not actually `work' cannot long endure." Amen.

With regard to "pivot points," they magnify impact of an effort. "It is s natural or created imbalance in a situation, a place where a relatively small adjustment can unleash much larger pent-up forces." For example, in the business world, a strategic thinker "senses such imbalances in pent-up demand that has yet to be fulfilled or in a robust competence developed in one context that can be applied to good effect in another." In m y opinion, pivot points seem to be first cousins to Michael Kami's trigger points, Andy Grove's inflection points, and Malcolm Gladwell's tipping points. Obviously, a good strategy takes full advantage of every opportunity that pivot points offer.

Those who share my high regard for this brilliant book are urged to check out Walter Kiechel III's The Lords of Strategy: The Secret Intellectual History of the New Corporate World.
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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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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear your head, 25 Jun 2011
By 
J. Erlank (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Energising - a great book, 1 Mar 2012
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markr - See all my reviews
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This is the first book in many years which has inspired me to annotate passages, and to try to memorise quotes, for future use. There is so much here of value to anyone in a position of responsibility. I have recommended this book strongly to colleagues, at least 2 of whom are now reading the book, and seem to be as fascinated as me by the simplicity, yet high relevance of the ideas.

This gets right to the heart of what can go wrong in organisations, particularly large ones. Strategy documents which are not much more than bulky laundry lists of desirable outcomes, with no prioritising of how to achieve them; lethargy; and 'that's how we have always done things', being unchallenged whilst competitive advantage is allowed to drift away are all addressed here, with clear recommendations about how to address the malaise.

Do read this book - I was energised and inspired by Richard Rumelt's analyses and solutions, and will return to this book again and again

Highly recommended
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really good read, 29 Jan 2012
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Welwynmariner (Welwyn Garden City, Herts, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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I've always enjoyed Richard Rumelt's articles and his book is a very readable example packed account of good and not so good strategic thinking.

It lies in the half way house between academic theory and personal anecdote beloved of successful entrepreneurs who encourage you to "do it their way". Rumelt disects the jargon and cliche driven approaches you find in other works. It's a steal.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 18 Sep 2011
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'Strategy' is among the most over-used words in business. This book breaks strategy down, describes its proper sense, and gives practical examples to illuminate the benefits of true strategy.

The book is a very entertaining, informative read. I would recommend it to anyone in a decision-making position.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Real, slap the forehead, why didnt I think of that?, 31 July 2011
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Kristin "I read so I don't kill people!" (Wiltshire) - See all my reviews
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I downloaded the kindle sample, as usual with these books to see if I thought I could bear it enough to actually read it. But what I found was a book so interesting that I actually went straight ahead and bought the whole thing within minutes, and then continued to read it. The real world examples of what was going wrong make such a difference to this book, and they are examples you will have heard about like a recent war.

Totally refreshing book on the subject, and one to read either if you are new to writing strategies, or have hit a rut with writing so many that they all just feel churned out and ineffective. This book should actually be forced onto many senior civil servants to make them think about what they have done.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sensible. No pompous jargon., 10 July 2011
A very sensible account about strategy. The most refreshing aspect is the lack of abused pompous jargon often found in strategy related books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely worth a read, 2 Nov 2013
By 
O. Benson "ollybenson" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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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. The first thing to say is it isn't a usual management book, insofar as it doesn't read like a huge sales pitch for a big piece of secret information that you'll eventually get to. Instead it gives one simple piece of advice and then a bunch of concrete examples as to why it worked or didn't work.

What's also good is that the examples are real companies, both large and small, and the author doesn't try and impress with his success rate.

My only complaint is the final chapter seems a bit superfluous and more like a history of the financial crash rather than a book on strategy. And then it stops.

But definitely worth a read.
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Good Strategy/Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters
Good Strategy/Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters by Richard P Rumelt (Audio CD - 6 Aug 2012)
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