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Before buying this book I had often heard people talking of strategy in such differing ways that made me wonder if I was missing the point or they were. After reading this I now feel that I truly understand what strategy is and - arguably more importanty - what isn't strategy.
The book is written in an accessible style and peppered with useful examples of both good and bad strategy (as the title would suggest!). Some of the ideas are so simple that you'll want to read them twice just to be sure you haven't missed the key point. In a time where it seems the engineering of increasingly complex 'things' (insert something appropriate from your own field of interest here) is seen as the way ahead (or to get ahead?), it's refreshing to know that there still exists a place for simplicity. The authors obvious passion for and knowledge of strategic planning and execition pores through the book and the chapter on nVidia is an excellent example he uses to demonstrate the 'pulling together' of each of the strands mentioned elsewhere in the book. Indeed, his previous employment history with the US Dept of Defence allows him to use some military examples which are both enlightening and of particular interest to current military practitioners and no doubt explains why the UK Chief of Defence Staff (CDS - Gen Richards) has this on his approved Reading List. I would however say that Rumelts attempts to suggest that the US led invasion of Iraq was an example of poor strategy because the US was somehow misled by its allies is, frankly preposterous. There are one or two similarly naive comments throughout the book which made me wince hence the 4*s, although to be honest, it probably deserves 5*s and I'm just trying to over complicate matters!
Overall, this is an excellent place to start for anyone who wants to know more about Strategy in a modern context. Another good read I would suggest to follow this is Execution to Die For by Graham Haines. It's one thing to formulate an all conquering strategic vision, but without skilful execution of that strategy, it'll amount to little more than a paper exercise. This disconnect between Strategy Planning and Execution of that vision is where future works should aim to focus.
Gives clear insights and demystify strategy (instead of making gibberish strategy mumbo jumbo) . Good comparisons for example : 1- doctors diagnosis and improvement process of a patient ( 3 steps) 2- war strategy and important aligned secret actions taken
Well written with clear explanation of a complicated subject - i will definitely re-read. The examples are well chosen from the business, military, and scientific spheres. The author suggests learnings and applications from his examples, and although quite complex in places it is all very readable. The comprehensive index and notes are a plus too.
A sensible and often very entertaining look at a serious topic. Rumelt recognises that good strategy is pretty much independent of who and where you are, lessons learnt from huge multinationals are equally applicable to a local charity in the UK (to take a very pertinent example of my experience). The main insight is that all too often strategic business plans, visions, mission statements consist of "fluff" based on wishful thinking, rather than taking a realistic, often uncomfortable look at the main challenge facing an organisation and building an achievable set of goals based on that.
Like a lot of these types of books the real content is rather thin. This is beefed up with lots of retrospective examples used to prove the points being made. (If a good strategy is so obvious and mechanical, why don't all companies just do it and get it right?)
There is one glaring error with the description of the demise of the computer systems (service) engineer. The role being described disappeared because computers became more reliable and it was not cost effective/ necessary to maintain systems at component/ board level. Integration of computer systems is a complex and skilled job and still exists!! Computers do not as a norm integrate themselves.
This book really over-delivered on my expectations. I am an economics graduate and have been taught a great deal about the theory of the firm -profit maximization being the assumed goal of all firms. In this book you really get to understand how theory falls down with real life application. It also reaffirms much of my own real life experience in the public sector i.e. strategy, planning, efficiency... and even competence, is often completely absent. I have personally witnessed my public sector employers pay tens of thousands of £s to consultants for strategic documents, and then watched them return with nothing more than a bunch of meaningless pap bound up with a load of goals and targets. It seems to me that any market which lacks strong competitive forces will usually end up with grossly inefficient processes (bad strategy) and this book gives ample evidence of that.
Other people have mentioned how the book demonstrates that most strategic planners don't understand strategy, and replace it with mere goal setting. For me the book was much deeper than that and it really drove home to me just how inefficient so many markets are - until reading this I had assumed that incompetence was the preserve of the public sector, but I see now that the problem is much more widespread and is commonplace in the private sector too. Don't misunderstand me, I'm no socialist, I believe that free market capitalism is our only viable option. Until now, I was just placing far too much faith in the private sector to deliver good strategy. In my view, this book should be required reading for any course in economics or business.
Concise, well thought out and communicated, easy accessible and easy to use. A keeper to refer back to no matter where you are in your career or on the corporate ladder; either to build a strategy or to sense check what someone is trying to convince you is a strategy.
If you had to start somewhere with reading about strategy this is a very good place to start. I've got several years of experience in government doing strategy and I've studied it academically as well, so I'm applying a wide evidence base and this is a good book about strategy.
This is the first book that I've seriously highlighted, mainly because it struck a chord with me and seemed to be full of sensible advice about the characteristics of both good and bad strategy. I can see myself using some of the content at work to help me and my colleagues develop better strategies and avoid some of the pitfalls.
This book provides a great definition of strategy that allows to discern not only bad strategy from good strategy but also strategy from non strategy. What I missed is some proposal of a workflow through which a “good strategy” can be defined.
Honestly, an absolutely fantastic book. I work in advertising as an account handler and have an interest in strategy. This really simplified the process, had relatable, interesting stories/examples and plenty of useful information. I marked many pages.
I feel it would be useful for advertisers, managers and most definitely small business owners or anyone interested in strategy that enjoys an interesting read.