Good Strategy/Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters, went on sale in the U.S. last week. I invite you to take a look. Amazon offers a “look inside” and the book’s Website offers some orientation as well as access to some of the original materials used and referenced.
There are four principle aims of this book:
- To call attention to and debunk the nonsense that is labeled “strategy” in so many companies, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. A strategy is not what you wish would happen. It is a set of practical actions for moving forward. It is not a “dog’s dinner” of all the things various parties would like to see done. It is a focusing of energy and resources on a few key objectives whose accomplishment will make a real difference.
- To offer a view of strategy that is not rooted in economics. Current teaching about strategy in schools of business is largely based on the industrial-organization model of competition, with some extensions to deal with information economics and network effects. This is not wrong, but it is woefully incomplete. The concept of strategy applies outside of industry settings. Good Strategy/Bad Strategy argues that the essence of a good strategy is logical and practical coherence. Logical coherence means having policies and actions based on a sound diagnosis of the challenges being faced. To create good strategy, one must acknowledge and understand why the challenge is difficult and resistant to standard routines. Practical coherence means coordinating policies and actions on critical keystone tasks and objectives.
- To illustrate and describe how good strategies are built while, at the same time, being truthful about how difficult this is. Strategy is not easy. There are no simple tools, matrices, techniques, or fill-in-the-blanks templates that will generate good strategies. Good strategy flows from insight and very skilled judgment. At the same time, insight and judgment can be stimulated and enhanced by looking in the right places. The mid-section of the book, “Sources of Power,” discusses the tools of anticipation, concentration of effort, proximate objectives, the role of chain-link logic, the power of design-type logic, the logic of focus, good and bad growth, how to build on advantage, the importance of dynamics, and the roles of inertia and entropy in strategy work. The last section, “Thinking Like a Strategist,” shows how strategy is like a scientific hypothesis that is tested and adjusted over time, and provides some clues to help you be “less myopic than your undeliberative self.
- To be interesting. Good Strategy/Bad Strategy is opinionated and chock full of stories and examples.