Good Strategy, Bad Strategy Book Summary - Good Strategy, Bad Strategy Book explained in key points
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Good Strategy, Bad Strategy summary

Richard Rumelt

The Difference and Why It Matters

4.2 (466 ratings)
21 mins

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'Good Strategy, Bad Strategy' by Richard Rumelt explains the difference between good and bad strategies and how to create effective strategies that achieve goals. It provides real-world examples and practical insights.

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    Good Strategy, Bad Strategy
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    Don’t confuse strategy with ambitious goal setting, visions or slogans.

    So what is a strategy, exactly?

    Consider this: the “2005 key strategy” of a major graphic arts company was a 20 percent revenue increase and a 20 percent profit margin. Does this sound like a good strategy to you?

    The short answer: No. In fact, these are simply goals – far removed from a working strategy.

    A vision or a goal is simply a stand-alone idea. A strategy, however, is a set of different ideas that includes a plan to achieve these goals.

    Often a goal or a vision can be a perfectly fine starting point for a strategy. However, the strategy itself must include precise information on how these goals will actually be achieved.

    For example, if your football coach advises your team to win the next game, he isn’t providing you with any useful information unless he tells you how to win. In other words, he must provide a plan of action – a strategy.

    It’s not only our goals that are often mistaken for strategies; motivational slogans and buzzwords sometimes get passed off as strategies too.

    This is usually made obvious by an absence of clear, simple words. In these cases, “fluff” – superficially restating the obvious while applying a heaping portion of buzzwords – takes on the appearance of high-level thinking.

    The fundamental strategy of one major retail bank is a perfect example – in their own words, they offered “customer-centric intermediation.”

    Let’s unpack this, shall we? “Intermediation” means simply that they take deposits and lend them to others, and “customer-centric” means that they focus on the customer.

    By taking the fluff and unraveling it into simple, meaningful language for the layman, we quickly discover that their “fundamental strategy” for banking was simply “be a bank!”

    What’s missing in both these business examples is a plan of action. Essentially, if you have no plan of action, then you don’t have strategy.

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    What is Good Strategy, Bad Strategy about?

    Good Strategy, Bad Strategy dissects good strategies by using historical examples from a variety of fields, and offers insight into developing our own effective strategies through practical advice and a solid blueprint.

    This is a Blinkist staff pick

    “My boss kept asking me, “Emily, what’s your strategy?” and I kept coming up empty (#truestory). This title is a smart start to wrapping your head around what it means to build an effective strategy and do good work to reach your goals.

    – Emily, Community & Engagement Marketing at Blinkist

    Good Strategy, Bad Strategy Review

    Good Strategy, Bad Strategy (2011) by Richard Rumelt is a must-read for anyone interested in strategic thinking and decision-making. Here are three reasons why this book is special and interesting:

    • The book provides practical insights and valuable strategies for developing effective plans and achieving goals.
    • Backed by extensive research and real-world examples, it offers a clear understanding of what differentiates good strategy from bad strategy.
    • Through its compelling analysis of various case studies, the book helps readers develop critical thinking skills and enhances their ability to make informed strategic choices.

    Best quote from Good Strategy, Bad Strategy

    Good strategy and good organization lie in specializing in the right activities and imposing only the essential amount of coordination.

    —Richard Rumelt
    example alt text

    Who should read Good Strategy, Bad Strategy?

    • Anyone interested in the different ways in which strategy can be applied to different fields
    • Anyone who has to make solid strategic decisions
    • Anyone interested in the history of business strategy

    About the Author

    Richard Rumelt holds the Harry and Elsa Kunin Chair in Business and Society at UCLA Anderson School of Management. He has also been named by The Economist as one of the 25 living people with the strongest influence on management concepts and has been described as “a giant in the field of strategy” by McKinsey Quarterly.

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    Good Strategy, Bad Strategy FAQs 

    What is the main message of Good Strategy, Bad Strategy?

    The main message of Good Strategy, Bad Strategy is that a good strategy requires a clear diagnosis, a guiding policy, and a set of coordinated actions.

    How long does it take to read Good Strategy, Bad Strategy?

    The reading time for Good Strategy, Bad Strategy varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Good Strategy, Bad Strategy a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Good Strategy, Bad Strategy is worth reading as it provides valuable insights into the essentials of effective strategy and practical examples to support the concepts.

    Who is the author of Good Strategy, Bad Strategy?

    The author of Good Strategy, Bad Strategy is Richard Rumelt.

    What to read after Good Strategy, Bad Strategy?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Good Strategy, Bad Strategy, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • Myths of Strategy by Jérôme Barthélemy
    • Playing to Win by A.G. Lafley & Roger L. Martin
    • Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim
    • Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore
    • Move by Patty Azzarello
    • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
    • The 5 AM Club by Robin Sharma