Book: Good Strategy, Bad Strategy
I find myself spending more and more time thinking about and writing strategies of late – perhaps this is a sign of my advancing age! Before I started uni, I used to jump in and write code. A computer science degree taught me the benefits of planning what you were trying to do before rushing in. Moving this across to web development, this meant spending more time thinking about how the end-user would actually use the website in question, rather than how to solve the interesting coding problem that lay behind it all.
And now, as I spend more of my time thinking about how to get a particular message out to a particular group of people, this means thinking about what exactly that group of people are doing, and how what I’m trying to say will fit in with the rest of the things that they’re hearing, and the rest of the things that are important to them.
Strategy, though, this book (written by Richard Rumelt, a world-expert on strategy) tells us is often misunderstood. A goal (we want to be 50% bigger in a year) can often be put forth as a strategy (when you’re deciding what to do, give preference to those things that will make us 50% bigger in a year), but this falls short of what might be termed good strategy.
In essence, good strategy identifies an end point, describes the challenges involved in reaching that endpoint, and outlines the way that those obstacles can be overcome.
The book is packed with examples from the business world in a range of market segments, of bad strategy, accidentally good strategy, and (occasionally) deliberately good strategy. I found it helpful in working out the differences between goals, strategies and tactics, and helping determine the best approach to thinking through a new strategy.