The Crux: How Leaders Become Strategists

The Crux: How Leaders Become Strategists

by Richard P. Rumelt
The Crux: How Leaders Become Strategists

The Crux: How Leaders Become Strategists

by Richard P. Rumelt


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The paradigm-busting theory for doing strategy.

What passes for strategy in too many businesses, government agencies, and military operations is a toxic mix of wishful thinking and a jumble of incoherent policies. Richard P. Rumelt’s breakthrough concept is that leaders become effective strategists when they focus on challenges rather than goals, pinpointing the crux of their pivotal challenge—the aspect that is both surmountable and promises the greatest progress—and taking decisive, coherent action to overcome it. 

Rumelt defines the essence of the strategist’s skill with vivid storytelling, from how Elon Musk found the crux that propelled the success of SpaceX to how the American military came to grips with the weaknesses of its battle strategy. Musk’s core challenge, for example, was rocket reusability. His intense focus on the soft landing of SpaceX’s rockets enabled them to be used again—radically reducing the cost of putting a pound in orbit. Musk’s strategy was not based on how value is created or how to position SpaceX in its industry. It was a design foraction, the mental maneuver that focuses energy on what really made a difference through understanding the crux and creating an effective response that led to breakthrough.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781541701243
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Publication date: 05/03/2022
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 164,578
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Richard P. Rumelt is one of the world’s most influential thinkers on strategy and management. McKinsey Quarterly described him as “strategy’s strategist” and “a giant in the field of strategy”. He is the author of Good Strategy/Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters,” reviewed by the Financial Times as “the most interesting business book of 2011” and by Strategy + Business as “the year’s best and most original addition to the strategy bookshelf." Dr. Rumelt received his doctoral degree from Harvard Business School and is Professor Emeritus at the UCLA Anderson School of Management where he held the Kunin Chair.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Roof of the Dog's Ass 1

Part I Challenge-Based Strategy and the Crux

1 Carolyn's Dilemma: How Do I Create a Strategy? 15

2 Untangling the Challenge: Finding and Using the Crux 30

3 Strategy Is a Journey 54

4 Where You Can Win: The ASC 63

5 The Challenge of Growth 84

6 The Challenge of Power 109

7 Creating Coherent Action 121

Part II Diagnosis

8 What Is the Problem? Diagnosing Through Reframing and Analogy 139

9 Diagnose via Comparison and Frameworks 157

10 Use Sharp Analytical Tools with Care 168

Part III Through the Crux

11 Seek an Edge 183

12 Innovating 203

13 The Challenge of Organization Dysfunction 217

Part IV Bright, Shiny Distractions

14 Don't Start with Goals 235

15 Don't Confuse Strategy with Management 248

16 Don't Confuse Current Financial Results with Strategy 257

17 Strategic Planning: Hits and Misses, Uses and Misuses 272

Part V The Strategy Foundry

18 Rumsfeld's Question 287

19 A Foundry Walkthrough 298

20 Strategy Foundry Concepts and Tools 313

Acknowledgments 331

Notes 333

Index 345

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