Lesson 5 of 11
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What belongs in a data strategy? Good vs Bad Strategy.

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Before we go further, we’ve got to look at what the minimum requirement of a document or a plan is for it to be considered a strategy, and for this, I lean heavily on Richard Rumelt’s excellent work in his book Good Strategy, Bad Strategy.

Let’s look at what are some of the symptoms that tell us we’ve got a bad strategy. So what do we think is a good strategy and what’s the kernel of a good strategy?

A great read

Good Strategy

Well, we’ve got to have a diagnosis of the problem or the opportunity that this strategy is here to solve. If we haven’t diagnosed a problem, how on all earth are we going to know whether this plan is going to overcome it or not?

Why on earth will we start work on anything if we can’t see a problem to solve or an opportunity that we might want to attain? 

We also need a guiding policy that’s there to really set the direction of where we’re going, and why we’re going there and to build on the understanding internally. So if you’ve got staff members, for example, who understand the principle behind your work and understand why it is they’re doing something they don’t need to have detailed rules. They’re able to use their brain and to apply that to their work and to achieve the same result. 

And then lastly, we’ve got to stitch it together and create a set of coherent actions that are going to coordinate the resources that we have to actually achieve the goal. So what are the steps we’re going to take? Who’s going to do what, where, when and how?

Quick 3 points summary

Bad Strategy

Let’s take a look at what a bad strategy looks like. Bad strategy typically starts without defining the problem that the strategy solves. You’re clueless as to what you’re doing this for or why you’re doing this, or what benefit you hope to get out of it. As a result, the tasks and activities that you set as direction just don’t make sense.

You get bad strategic objectives or unachievable goals (We’ll dive more into this in later lessons). Setting up something that isn’t possible is a recipe to fail.

Lastly, you’ve got fluff words that are designed to sound strategic, but really just pad out your documents and if somebody digs through them, they do make you look a bit of a mug. So avoid those at all costs. You may recognise some of these things from strategy documents that you’ve seen lying around.

And a 3 point summary again

In the next lesson, we’re going to take a look at what bad strategy means and show you some of the examples of it so that you can identify it and prevent it from creeping into your work.