The Kernel of Good Strategy

Good morning!

Yesterday we talked some about the four signs of bad strategy.  Today, let’s talk about the three things that make up the “kernel” of good strategy according to Richard Rumelt in his book Good Strategy, Bad Strategy.

1. A diagnosis that defines or explains the nature of the challenge. A good diagnosis simplifies the often overwhelming complexity of reality by identifying certain aspects of the situation as critical. You are essentially asking “What’s going on here?”. It is a judgement about the meaning of a set of facts.

2. A guiding policy for dealing with the challenge. This is an overall approach chosen to cope with or overcome the obstacles identified in the diagnosis. Good guiding policies are not goals or visions or images of desirable end states. Rather, they define a method of grappling with the situation and ruling out a vast array of possible actions.

3. A set of coherent actionsthat are designed to carry out the guiding policy. These are steps that are coordinated with one another to work together in accomplishing the guiding policy. The actions within the kernel of strategy should be coherent. That is, the resource deployments, policies, and maneuvers that are undertaken should be consistent and coordinated.

The “kernel” is not the totality of the strategic plan, but it is the core.  Without the kernel the plan is in trouble.

Have a blessed day today!  Headed out with my boss today to meet with another organization to talk about CEO coaching – ought to be interesting!


Rumelt, Richard (2011-07-19). Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters (p. 77). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.