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Publisher's Summary

Good Strategy/Bad Strategy clarifies the 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. A good strategy is a specific and coherent response to - and approach for - overcoming the obstacles to progress. A good strategy works by harnessing and applying power where it will have the greatest effect. Yet, Rumelt shows that there has been a growing and unfortunate tendency to equate Mom-and-apple-pie values, fluffy packages of buzzwords, motivational slogans, and financial goals with “strategy”.

In Good Strategy/Bad Strategy, he debunks these elements of “bad strategy” and awakens an understanding of the power of a “good strategy”. He introduces nine sources of power - ranging from using leverage to effectively focusing on growth - that are eye-opening yet pragmatic tools that can easily be put to work on Monday morning and uses fascinating examples from business, nonprofit, and military affairs to bring its original and pragmatic ideas to life. The detailed examples range from Apple to General Motors, from the two Iraq wars to Afghanistan, from a small local market to Wal-Mart, from Nvidia to Silicon Graphics, from the Getty Trust to the Los Angeles Unified School District, from Cisco Systems to Paccar, and from Global Crossing to the 2007-08 financial crisis.

Reflecting an astonishing grasp and integration of economics, finance, technology, history, and the brilliance and foibles of the human character, Good Strategy/Bad Strategy stems from Rumelt’s decades of digging beyond the superficial to address hard questions with honesty and integrity.

©2011 Richard Rumelt (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Represents the latest thinking in strategy and is peppered with many current real world examples. Good Strategy/Bad Strategy has much to offer and has every chance of becoming a business classic.” (Management Today)

“Brilliant...a milestone in both the theory and practice of strategy... Vivid examples from the contemporary business world and global history that clearly show how to recognize the good, reject the bad, and make good strategy a living force in your organization.” (John Stopford, chairman, TLP International, professor emeritus, London Business School)

“Penetrating insights provide new and powerful ways for leaders to tackle the obstacles they face. The concepts of "the kernel" and "the proximate objective" are blockbusters. This is the new must-have book for everyone who leads an organization in business, government, or in-between.” (Robert A. Eckert, chairman and CEO of Mattel)

What listeners say about Good Strategy/Bad Strategy

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Good but thin

The core idea is wise, but it’s pretty simple and takes 15 minutes to explain. The rest of the book is a bunch of examples and anecdotes that are interesting but don’t meaningfully expand the core thesis.

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Very good but I was expecting more

I hoped it compared to Drucker's Effective Executive, but unfortunatelly it didn't. The book has very good parts, but others are good, but don't fit perfectly with the overall subject of strategy, e.g. the last chapter about real state bubbles.

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Really tough subject to get right...

And I feel like a balance was struck for my brain. I learned a fair amount from reading this book. AND I felt vanquished at strategy work and discussions I have had in the past. (Oh, I WAS right).

1 person found this helpful

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Strategic Thinking

Loved it! It sets a great state of mind for what strategy is. You can't rush through it. As I was listening it helped me understand my successes and failures better. I have a better grasp on long term businesss strategy.

1 person found this helpful

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Out of date?

I think this book might be out of date. Used Wells Fargo as an example of good strategy...hmmm

1 person found this helpful

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Wisdom from one of the best thinkers on strategy

Book has great insights into the mind of Richard Rumelt and his thinking process on strategy and decision making in general.

However, besides high level frameworks the practicalities of the book are questionable. Author tries to present a vast majority of strategic cases from military to IT industries, however, the tools suggested in the book are far not enough to grasp the logic behind some of the strategies and require a pretty advanced level of familiarity with economics and business operations.

More over, I found his attempt to deconstruct a strategy in details a little too patchy and hard to apply to real life business cases.

At times it was hard to connect to the book because author goes into abstract textbook descriptions, detaching the listener.

All in all, a good read for personal insights, but IMO not the most practical book on strategy.

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Good but a bit dense and academic

Hard to listen to on 2x. Great concepts but I wish they went into more details on the stories behind them vs staying on the core concepts

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Great level set on what strategy really is!

A must read for organizational leaders. Great insights and tools around organizational strategy.

Runneth is the beat narrator on Audible!

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Good book/Bad book: Difference and why it matters!

Good book/Bad book: The difference and why it matters!!!

About 1/3 of this book is brilliant content. Very clear and genuine thoughts, concise advice and implementable framework that are backed with studies, experience and extensive consulting work.

The rest 2/3 of the book are nothing but filler. Long pages of unrelated stories from Galileo Galilei, American steel companies, and the 2008 financial market crash. Each story goes in a very extended non-relevant history of everything and concludes with 1 or 2 lines that seemingly strategy-related. I personally believe that all these stories have nothing but the writer in common, he may have read the book or met the CEO over lunch!

I wish business writers start to pay some respect to their readers more than they do to their publishers. Your book's worth is not by the number of pages, only the relevance and ideas ingenuity.

Disappointed, this was a book that easily deserved 5 stars, only if it was literally half the size!

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  • S.
  • 04-28-21

The Best Book on Strategy I have Yet Encountered

This is the best book on strategy that I have encountered so far. It's also a pleasant read(or listen).

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  • Amazonclient
  • 07-21-20

The best book on strategy.

A book to savour for its outstanding training effect, scholarlyness, historic perspective and comprehensive scope.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Faruk
  • 02-10-20

fantastic book, very insightful with many examples

loved it. very insightful and well rounded observations of business strategy, with various examples to drill home the points. The book is a suggested core read for my MBA Strategy module and I realised now why they picked it. Very well rounded book on the subject.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-05-20

easy listen

narrator was very good. the author is a little arrogant but if you can get past that he makes some interesting points

2 people found this helpful

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  • Mr D.
  • 06-08-21

Brilliant insights.

This book is an eye opener. It is thoughtful and detailed while remaining easy to follow and to digest. I enjoyed how the thoughts were constructed and backed up with examples from a wide variety of industries.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Katie
  • 06-02-21

Three Steps To Create Good Strategy

Most organisations don’t really do strategy, they do visions and goals, but not strategy. Good strategy is simple and insightful and has three characteristics; 1. Diagnosis 2. Guiding Policy, 3. Coherent Actions. Rumelt argues against big inspirational visionary leadership and for leaders as designers rather than decision-makers.

This book is in 3 parts, part 1 contrasts good and bad strategy. Part 2 dives deeper into sources of power i.e. lenses you might use to evaluate possible strategies for your context. Part 3 covers what it takes to think like a strategist. I found the first section most impactful and packed with insight. The second section less so and the third section less so again. It's worth reading for just the first section and the next time i'm writing strategy i'll revisit part 2.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-22-21

A bit repetitive.

Good book but needs to deliver more analytical tools rather than merely repeating endless examples.

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  • Brian Anderson
  • 09-10-21

An engineer's view of business

I thoroughly enjoyed this book of an engineer's mind applied to the marketplace. Richard Rumelt cuts through all the noise and gets to the heart of the problem. He has obviously honed his technique through years of experience. The easy style of the narration added to the enjoyment. I might buy the hard copy for reference.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-20-21

One of the absolut best business books I've read.

Clearly communicated ideas with vivid examples from real life. Would recommend any leader to read this book.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Emmanuel I.
  • 07-03-21

Stunning

Loved every bit of it. Will definitely recommend this book. Business leaders should look it up.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-17-21

One of the best books I have ever listened too

Brilliant in content and tone. I’m not usually one for writing reviews but the humour and insights this book delivers compelled me to at least write a short one.