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Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters
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Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  8,537 ratings  ·  665 reviews
Clears out the mumbo jumbo and muddled thinking underlying too many strategies and provides a clear way to create and implement a powerful action-oriented strategy for the real world
Developing and implementing a strategy is the central task of a leader, whether the CEO at a Fortune 100 company, an entrepreneur, a church pastor, the head of a school, or a government offici
ebook, 320 pages
Published July 19th 2011 by Crown Business (first published January 1st 2011)
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Average rating 4.14  · 
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Cindy Brandt
May 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
Felt the book could've been summed up in one chapter. ...more
Andrew Garvin
May 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Rumelt is surly and arrogant. The barbs he slings at 'bad' strategists are hilarious. 'It is embarrassing for an intelligent adult to be associated with this sort of bloviating' is one of many (this one being targeted at Cornell's benign mission statement). Chad Logan, a random prospective small business client of Rumelt's, must be icing down from the sick burns. Rumelt puts Chad Logan on blast - unwittingly providing comic relief, because what did this dude do to inspire so much ire?

Good Strate
Daniel Clausen
This review first appeared on "Defense Innovator" (

Lately, there seems no end to the number of books, articles, and op-ed pieces calling for a new grand strategy for the United States. These articles alternatively argue that the US needs to embrace complexity, focus on the homefront, rebalance to face rising peer competitors, brace for multiple challenges, to focus on a handful of known challenges, or to focus on domestic issues before starting on new for
Andrew Stotz
Jun 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters
I loved this book. I loved it so much that I did a video ( about it.
But if you don't feel like watching the video, what I said about it is below.

What is Good Strategy?
Sources: ASIR, Good Strategy Bad Strategy. The Difference and Why it Matters, Richard P. Rumelt, 2013, Profile Books

Rumelt says…

What was so great about this book?
 Small book, can read over a few hours
 Clear and simple
 Real world
 Honest

Chad Warner
Dec 06, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: strategists, business owners, executives
Recommended to Chad by: Paul Boag
Shelves: non-fiction, business
An insightful but long-winded exploration of effective strategy. The examples and advice are mostly related to business (usually large corporations), but they also deal with nonprofits and government. I like how it shows that much of what passes for strategy (goal-setting, vision) actually isn’t, and walks through how to form good strategy.

Its points could have been condensed into a book one-third the length. Part 3 (Thinking Like a Strategist) seemed disconnected from the rest. I suggest skippi
Doc Norton
Jun 03, 2014 rated it liked it
This book seems a lot longer than necessary. It is full of examples where the author looks back on events and determines that he was right at the very beginning and that his strategy was (or would have been) best for the client. Meh. Other stories presume a certain strategy existed because success was achieved by some measure. Again - meh.

Overall, I felt like I got some good nuggets from the book. Ways to think about problems, what else to consider, etc.
Dec 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Every once in a while a book comes along that changes how you perform one aspect of your life. This is one of those books; a book that will force you to change the way you approach business strategy. Good Strategy Bad Strategy flips strategy on its head, cuts out the fluff and digs beneath the success of companies across the ages and teaches us to replicate it by following the kernel (basic skeleton) of strategy.

Incredible book and a must read.
Nate Huston
Fairly standard corporate strategy fare. Well put together, though, and pithy. A good primer for strategy. His central thesis is that good strategy has good structure, a "kernel" consisting of a diagnosis, a guiding policy, and a coherent action." (77) Has some good thoughts regarding why bad strategy is so pervasive (normally a result of an unwillingness to make hard choices, templating, or a belief in the power of positive attitude as sufficient for good strategy. (58). About half the book dis ...more
Brook Dixon
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
Probably should have been called Memoirs, Musings and Mysteries of a Genius Strategist, being a book which aims to secure Rumelt’s legacy, rather than convey deep practical and theoretical knowledge about strategy.

No doubt Rumelt is an expert in this field, but selective hindsight makes all strategy appear genius. The credibility of the book suffers accordingly.

Some excellent insights early in the book, before it degenerates into storytelling and myth making. The very last section, dealing wit
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is such a great book, but I debated rating it 4 stars because I felt some of the examples dragged on a little, becoming slightly monotonous.

I really liked how the author details mistakes companies make when setting their strategies, such as confusing ‘fluffy’ vision statements with strategy, or actually implementing bad strategies.

The author is considered an international expert in strategy. Throughout the book, he includes examples extracted from his experience consulting with various com
Alper Çuğun
Feb 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Maybe this is advanced as far as strategy books go but it struck me as a really good introduction to strategy somewhat halfway to decisions theory.

The cases are pretty good. California Sunday just did a profile on the nut farmer just as I was reading this. The NVIDIA case is oddly prescient given the current crypto boom. And kicking down at the financial crisis is nothing but good measure.

A lot of damage and confusion could be prevented if everybody was forced to read this book before they ever
Jan 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
One fundamental idea presented in an understandable manner.
Tõnu Vahtra
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is the best book I have read on the topic of strategy this year, it made me think in a different way about strategy and came timely just before the planning cycle for the upcoming year. Strategy is not just about goals or getting things done but it should be very much concerned with establishing or strengthening a competitive advantage. Also strategy is not just goals or guiding policies, strategy is about action, about doing something. The book helps you to differentiate bad strategy (or w ...more
Kacper Cebo
Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle-books
An exceptional book. One of these you not only read but you actually study it. At least, you should, since it provides literally tens of deep, insightful thoughts on (surprise, surprise) strategy work. Must-read for any leader or executive.
Jan 13, 2013 rated it liked it
"Good Strategy/Bad Strategy" is superior to most business books out there because it dares to call bull---- on what commonly passes for "strategic planning" in most organizations. Nevertheless, this book is the pot calling the kettle black in terms of what the author calls "fluff." It is pretty good as a catalogue of "bad strategy." But it is not a profound explanation of the problem; nor is it a practical guide for what to do about it. For something that might help you as a manager to deal with ...more
Stefan Kanev
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I somehow ended buying this book in four separate formats – Kindle, Audible, Apple Books and hardcover. This is how good it is.

The Art of Action helped me understand the importance of strategy and this one helped me understand how to approach creating one. It's clear and insightful.

It's comprised of two types of information.

First, a set of tools to reason about designing a strategy. There are a few things, but I found "the kernel" to be the most useful. In his words, a strategy can be built arou
Unnawut Leepaisalsuwanna
Jul 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A good primer on strategy. The most useful aspect of this book is how the author clearly illustrates what bad strategies are like, which other books tend to avoid. On the other hand, his guidelines on good strategies are quite generic and typical.

Reading this book as an introductory to strategy, then on to more tangible resources like Business Model Generation and such, in this particular order, is recommended.
Javier Recuenco
Mar 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Aaron Mikulsky
Apr 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I recommend this read. I captured some memorable quotes and insights that I thought might be of interest. Since there are so many different definitions of “strategy,” and disagreements over the years of what it means, I found this resource useful to bring clarity around it.

More and more organizational leaders say they have a strategy, but they do not. Bad strategy tends to skip over pesky details such as problems, ignoring focus and making tough choices, trying instead to accommodate a multitud
Graham Holtslander
Jun 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A great and eye-opening read about what strategy is and - perhaps more importantly - what it is not. This book changed the way I think about how I want to get things done both in my work and in my personal life. The author talks about how most of the time what people call a "strategy" is more like a "strategic goal", like "Our strategy is to be the #1 car dealership in America". One of the things I appreciated about the book was the litany of examples of good and bad strategy throughout, it real ...more
Nov 12, 2018 rated it liked it
There is some good information here about how and why to structure a strategy, coupled together with what makes a bad strategy and how to find/avoid them. Sadly though the author had an overstated opinion of his skills and comes off super arrogant much of the time. This ended up being super distracting for me when combined with the fact that there is tons of fluff in the book (ironically one of the things he criticizes).

I really want to recommend this to quite a few people but I struggle to know
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Richard Rumelt may come across as an arrogant sob, but he's a very smart one. I had a lot to learn from this book, out of which I think the most important thing that stuck was to eliminate the fluff. I liked the cases he presented to get his points across, though I think that for some he got a bit too into it and made them very difficult to keep up - I had to stop and google people and events.
Nevertheless, it's a good book for everyone dealing with planning and strategy in their job and, dare I
Dec 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a must read for anyone in software development. While it is repetitive to point out who Everyone is I really want to point out that programmers, designers, product managers, VPs, c-suite, managers, coaches, etc all need to read this book. This is going to level up your strategic thinking 10x and make you able to focus on the things that matter.

When I train product managers, we have a whole section (2w-4w) on strategy and we use the kernel strategy as our framework, all PMs completely sh
Graeme Roberts
Jan 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The definitive book on strategy. A real masterpiece that is as easy and compelling to read as it is authoritative.
Chanh Nguyen
Feb 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Good strategy isn't just what you are trying to do; it's also why and how you are doing it.

Good strategy
• Diagnosis: understanding the challenge
• A guiding policy: the reasons that you’ll take action to address the challenge
• A set of coherent actions: a concrete, consistent action plan

Bad strategy
• Fluff: empty slogans and buzzwords
• Failure to face the challenge: focusing on things that are not the root problem
• Mistaking goals for strategy: a wish-list of objectives without a plan of action
Michael Dubakov
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
Quite good book. In a nutshell, Richard summarizes good strategy in 3 steps:

1. Analyze context (deeply) and make diagnosis
2. Create guiding policy to frame your actions
3. Create set of coherent actions that align with guiding policy

Surprisingly, many companies do not use these three basic steps.

Richard shows what bad strategy means. This is important to distinguish good from bad. People like to set ambitious goals without any deep analysis, and try to enforce this goal using "motivation". This
Alex Railean
A very thought-provoking book which aims to help the reader understand the difference between a good strategy and a bad one. I found it very practical, because now that I'm armed with the new knowledge, I easily identified the ways in which I could have avoided some mistakes I've made in the past.

The book is distilled from the author's personal experience. That doesn't make it less useful or less true. However, as Rumelt himself advocates in the final chapters, one should apply the scientific me
Hj Barraza
Jul 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: strategy
Wouldn’t it be worthwhile to sit down for an extended session with a top business thinker while he discusses the fine points of corporate strategy with you? You can, at least in an editorial sense, when you read Richard Rumelt’s work on business strategy. The prestigious McKinsey Quarterly calls Rumelt “strategy’s strategist,” and The Economist includes him on its list of the 25 most influential people in business management today. Who does he think he is, a rocket scientist? Well, yes, he also ...more
Dec 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We really throw around the world strategy like we all have a shared understanding of it, but we often use the word to refer to a "plan" or even "general approach." It's almost like sometimes we're just trying to make a document sound more impressive by calling it a strategy.

This book talks about what strategy is, and what strategy is not, and is a good antidote for anyone who feels that the word "strategy" has almost become as trite as "synergy" or "company mission."

It shows that there can be a
Apr 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is probably the most the most enlightening book I've read in the last 5 years. The author cuts the fat while explaining the strategy making process, making it more accessible to the average reader using a plethora of case studies. From the author's forty years experience as a research, teacher at UCLA and as a consultant, he brings on nuggets of wisdom on ways to formulating good strategies and staying away from bad ones. For fully internalizing the main takeaways, I probably will have to r ...more
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Rumelt’s research has centered on corporate diversification strategy and the sources of sustainable advantage to individual business strategies. His current research interests center on the dynamics of industry transitions with a focus on the patterns and forces shaping the evolution of complex industries.

Rumelt received his doctorate from the Harvard Business School in 1972. He joined the UCLA fa

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“The kernel of a strategy contains three elements: a diagnosis, a guiding policy, and coherent action.” 13 likes
“Good strategy works by focusing energy and resources on one, or a very few, pivotal objectives whose accomplishment will lead to a cascade of favorable outcomes.” 8 likes
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