Over the next few days I’ll be looking at the “Four Hallmarks of Bad Strategy” from Richard Rumelt’s book Good Strategy/Bad Strategy. Each of these will be linked to a South African example and concluded with a tip to avoid that element of bad strategy.

Note: this post discusses strategy in South African politics. It is not an endorsement for the party being discussed. It is instead an analysis of a shortcoming of their strategy.

The second element of bad strategy that Rumelt highlights is that of “failing to face the problem”. He explains that failure to identify problems means that your strategy is ultimately just a wish list. In order to craft an effective strategy, you need to understand why things haven’t worked well in the past and confront this.

SA Example: The White DA

The Democratic Alliance has been trying everything they can to get into power at a national level. They have made advances in some regards, having won some big local level elections last year.

However, I don’t think that their existing strategy will ever get them in to power at a national level. And the reason is because they are continuously failing to address a fundamental problem:

The DA is perceived to be the party of and for white people

And many South African voters either don’t like this or are scared of what this might mean if the DA get into power. Regardless of whether these fears and dislikes are valid, they are what people perceive, which ultimately direct their voting.

The DA have never tackled this issue head on. Their 2014 National Manifesto and their 2016 Local Manifesto did not contain the word “white” once. They 2016 manifesto used the word “Black” on one ocassion and doesn’t use the word “race” at all.

Some might say that this can’t be the case because now they have a black leader. But I’d argue this has done little to address the problem. They need to find a way to do this if they want to achieve their objectives.


Face the problem


The solution to this pitfall is simple in theory and difficult in practice: face the problem head on. Avoiding it gets you no where. In tackling the underlying problem, it allows for the development of a more effective strategy

Image is from the 2014 elections when everyone was posting pictures with their thumbs and stamps. I was feeling left out so posted this homemade version to social media.

Song of the day: Zedd - Stay
Blog 117/365. Read more about my #365of25 journey here


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