Richard Rumelt is the author of Good Strategy/Bad Strategy–The Difference and Why It Matters
It is a real gem of a book
In the book, Rumelt identifies two kinds of objectives: ‘dog’s dinner objectives’; and ‘blue sky objectives’.
Dog’s dinner objectives
“A long list of “things to do”, often mislabeled as “strategies” or “objectives”, is not a strategy. It is just a list of things to do. Such lists usually grow out of planning meetings in which a wide variety of stakeholders make suggestions as to things they would like to see done. Rather than focus on a few important items, the group sweeps the whole day’s collection into a “strategic plan”. Then, in recognition that it is a dog’s dinner, the label “long term” is added so that none of them need be done today.“
Blue sky objectives
“The second form of bad strategic objectives is one that is “blue sky”. A good strategy defines the critical challenge. What is more, it builds a bridge between that challenge and action, between desire and immediate objectives that lie within grasp. Thus, the objectives a good strategy sets should stand a good chance of being accomplished, given existing resources and competence.…… By contrast, a blue-sky objective is usually a simple restatement of the desired state of affairs or of the challenge. It skips over the annoying fact that no one has a clue as to how to get there.
The purpose of a good strategy is to offer a potentially achievable way of surmounting a key challenge. If the leader’s strategic objectives are just as difficult to accomplish as the original challenge, there has been little value added by the strategy.”
So how does your strategy match up with either of these two kinds of ‘Bad Strategy”
So what is good strategy?
“A strategy is a way through a difficulty, an approach to overcoming an obstacle, a response to a challenge. If the challenge is not defined, it is difficult or impossible to assess the quality of the strategy. And if you cannot assess a strategy’s quality, you cannot reject a bad strategy or improve a good one.”
Simple hey !