4 Signs of Bad Strategy

February 13, 2012

Good morning!

When you hear the term “strategic planning” does it conjure up images of long meetings, thick binders, and plenty of fancy trendy words?  Does it evoke feelings of frustration and boredom?  And at the end, do you wonder if you really have a good strategy?

Well, I am reading Good Strategy, Bad Strategy by Richard P. Rumelt and he lists four things that are indicators of a bad strategy:

1. Fluff. Fluff is a form of gibberish masquerading as strategic concepts or arguments. It uses “Sunday” words (words that are inflated and unnecessarily abstruse) and apparently esoteric concepts to create the illusion of high-level thinking.

2. Failure to face the challenge. Bad strategy fails to recognize or define the challenge. When you cannot define the challenge, you cannot evaluate a strategy or improve it.

3. Mistaking goals for strategy. Many bad strategies are just statements of desire rather than plans for overcoming obstacles.

4. Bad strategic objectives. A strategic objective is set by a leader as a means to an end. Strategic objectives are “bad” when they fail to address critical issues or when they are impracticable.

Do you see any of these four indicators in your strategy?

This is a good book for those that are serious about strategy development.


Rumelt, Richard (2011-07-19). Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters (p. 32). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.