Simplified Strategic Planning by Robert Bradford, Peter Duncan with Brian Tarcy

by Paul Simister on September 16, 2011

The full title of this book is “Simplified Strategic Planning : A No Nonsense Guide For Busy People Who Want Results Fast” written by Robert W Bradford and L Peter Duncan with Brian Tarcy.

It captures the approach of the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning.

In my opinion it is a very good guide for the management team of any medium sized business which feels lost when thinking about business strategy.

What is Strategy?

Strategy is one of those words that nearly everyone feels obliged to use but it’s often difficult to put a finger on what it means when you are trying to think strategically or even to prepare a strategic plan.

It is hard to see effective strategy in action although when you do see, you are wowed by how well everything fits together.

Too many businesses which have gone to the time and trouble of preparing a strategic plan but then don’t put the plan into action effectively.

The Big Weakness In Strategy Books – Many Are Very Theoretical

There are some great books on strategy

Michael Porter Competitive Strategy

Michael Porter Competitive Advantage

Cliff Bowman & David Faulkner Competitive & Corporate Strategy

Richard D’Aveni Hypercompetition

but they are all heavy reading and best left to the strategy experts and want -to-be strategy experts.

The “Simplified Strategic Planning” book is different.

It certainly helps with its practical step-by-step approach which contrasts sharply with many of the strategy books you will see in the book shop targeted at academics and MBA students.

Simplified Strategic Planning Review

The Simplified Strategic Planning book assumes little knowledge of strategy. It won’t suit anyone who is looking for an in-depth assessment of cutting edge strategies – but that’s not what the book is about. The title is very descriptive:

  • It is strategic planning simplified
  • It is a no nonsense guide
  • And it is for busy people who want results

Simplified Strategic Planning by Robert Bradford, Peter Duncan and Brian Tarcy

The Core Questions Of Simplified Strategic Planning

I like the way that the Simplified Strategic Planning book strips strategy down to three big questions – but then it is an approach I use:

  1. What are you go to sell
  2. Who are you going to sell to
  3. How can you beat or avoid the competition

Simplified Strategic Planning Process

The book walks you through the Simplified Strategic Planning process.

  • Putting your strategy team together and making sure they understand the importance of the task
  • Defining your market and analysing your market segments
  • Evaluating the competition
  • Assessing your own strengths and weaknesses
  • Looking into the future
  • Evaluating opportunities and threats
  • Designing what a winner will look like
  • Committing to your strategy
  • Communicating it through your mission, goals and objectives
  • Preparing an strategy action plan that works.

Who Is Simplified Strategic Planning For?

I would recommend it to independent businesses with 15 to 100 employees.

I don’t think smaller businesses will do the work, although they can certainly benefit from it and it will help them to think about the future.

Larger companies may need something more sophisticated, either because they have to follow group policies and procedures which may involve topics not included in Simplified Strategic Planning, because one or more of the senior managers are more strategically sophisticated than the book or because they have complex corporate strategy issues across different strategic business units.

However if you are suffering from information overload, too much knowledge and trying to do too many different things, then the Simplified Strategic Planning book very usefully takes you back to basics.

Criticisms of Simplified Strategic Planning

First a little niggle. The book doesn’t recognise the contribution made by strategic planning academics or consultants but the influences are clear. There is no reference list and not even Michael Porter is acknowledged in the index.

We all stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before.

Second, I would have liked to see more in the book about the development of sustainable competitive advantages and particularly differentiation. No surprise since I write a strategy blog about differentiation

The authors of Simplified Strategic Planning generally recommends a niche strategy which I agree with based on who the book is targeted towards. There should be more in the book about how to understand what it is that customers in the niche want.

Overall Conclusion on Simplified Strategic Planning by Robert Bradford, Peter Duncan and Brian Tarcy

I give Simplified Strategic Planning a strong recommendation to buy.

It does give you the framework to put together a strategic plan and delivers on the promise in the title.

You can buy it from and (affiliate links)

Have You Read Simplified Strategic Planning?

If you’ve read the book I’d like to know what you think so please leave me a comment.

Do you agree with me that it is an excellent guide to strategy for small and medium sized businesses?

Or do you know a better, more practical book for small business owners and entrepreneurs? If so, I’d love to know what.

Paul Simister is a business strategy coach who helps business owners to differentiate their businesses and develop winning strategies. Get your free copy of the ebook The Six Steps Profit Formula.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve Jackson December 13, 2017 at 4:58 pm

Does your workbook provide questions for each stage of planning (i.e. mission, vision, swot, etc…) that can be distributed to stakeholders and compiled prior to group sessions?
Small non-profit (10 employees).


Paul Simister December 20, 2017 at 8:24 am

It’s not my workbook, it’s a book I’ve reviewed.

From memory, I don’t think it does provide questions in the form you’re suggesting but then, that’s hard to do in a meaningful way.


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