Losing at Chess. (A Lot. And Loving It.)

A couple of months ago I started playing chess on chess.com. I hadn’t played regularly or at all seriously since school – probably 30 years or so ago. Nonetheless, being an arrogant sort I felt sure I’d pretty quickly become reasonably good.  Instead, I’ve had the far more valuable and humbling experience of consistently losing.  I’m currently on a 12-game losing streak.  Surprisingly, I am really enjoying it. Continue reading “Losing at Chess. (A Lot. And Loving It.)”

Strategic Pollution

A wearying, numbing, amount has been written about the US election result.  Sifting through it to find anything of much value seems to me to be a rather miserable and barren enterprise – and the hyperbolic tone of much of this coverage I find actually dangerous, certainly damaging to any attempt to truly understand it.
One comment from the run up to the election, below the line in the Financial Times online, has stuck with me though as it seems genuinely and generally useful and applicable:

The Clinton’s problem is one of strategic pollution. They’ve taken too many decisions with short-term benefits and long-term costs. Typically the benefits were financial or sexual and the costs reputational. End result, they have the financial support required to take the presidency but don’t have the respect needed to use it successfully.[1]

I haven’t come across the term strategic pollution before, and it seems genuinely useful to describe the build-up of damaging tactical outcomes, largely from a reactive tactical focus.  (A Google search also brings up only strategies related to environmental pollution.) Continue reading “Strategic Pollution”

Book Review: Good Strategy, Bad Strategy, by Richard Rumelt

Good Strategy, Bad Strategy, by Richard Rumelt, 2011, Profile Books. Overall, an excellent book on strategy. Its two main contributions are a clear and rigorous approach to good strategy and a vigorous analysis of errors in strategic thinking that gets right to the heart of why there is so much bad strategy out there.

rrGood Strategy, Bad Strategy, by Richard Rumelt, 2011, Profile Books.
Summary
This is, overall, an excellent book on strategy. Its two main contributions are a clear and rigorous approach to good strategy, which almost everyone can gain from, and a vigorous analysis of errors in strategic thinking that gets right to the heart of why there is so much bad strategy out there.
The first section is the strongest, setting out Rumelt’s approach to strategy and the concept of, and prevalence of, bad strategy. The remaining two sections, whilst interesting and containing useful ideas, are less vital. The third seems rushed and poorly structured even; there is no conclusion at all, the book abruptly ends. When I’ve recommended this book to friends, I’ve suggested they read the first part and skim the rest picking out what’s of interest. Continue reading “Book Review: Good Strategy, Bad Strategy, by Richard Rumelt”