Chapter 27What Does a Good Strategy Look Like?

Before we answer that question, let's take a look at the opposite end of the spectrum.

Poor strategy comes in many forms. The main reason for this is that delivering an insightful, transformational strategy is difficult; it requires objectivity, diligence, confidence, clear decision-making, the ability to change tack when necessary, an honest appraisal of the organisation's challenges and a great deal of effort.

Poor strategy, in comparison, is easy, and therefore ubiquitous. It comes in many guises, the most common varieties of which could be labelled:

  • Utopia
  • Stretch targets
  • Verbal nonsense
  • To-do lists
  • Wish lists
  • Spreadsheets and hockey sticks.

Some of the above are welcome as individual components of a good strategy, but they are not stand-alone strategies in their own right. Let's take a little peek at each one.


‘Describing a destination is no substitute for developing a comprehensive roadmap for how an organisation will achieve its stated goals.’

I adapted this quote ever so slightly from Richard Rumelt's excellent book Good Strategy Bad Strategy. The actual quote is an analysis of the Bush Administration National Security Strategy during a Seminar on US National Security Strategy in Washington DC 2007. Rumelt's actual quotation is perhaps even more telling on a number of levels:

‘The articulation of a national vision that describes America’s purpose in the post-September 11th world is useful – indeed, it is vital ...

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