The Five Disqualifiers of Strategy

Strategy testing is a time-honored practice. Well-known tests include those offered by Michael Porter and McKinsey consulting (See a compilation in the Chapter 8 supplement).

Most traditional tests, however, are not actually tests of strategy; they are tests of entire frameworks and can be of limited use when they require a lot of prediction.

The Five Disqualifiers are a new set of strategy tests. They ask,

  1. Is the opposite of the statement absurd?
  2. Does the statement include numbers?
  3. Is the statement a duplicate of the parent?
  4. Does the statement exclude anything or anyone?
  5. Is the statement a list?

If you can answer yes to any of these questions, then what you have is most likely not a strategy, but instead, a goal, plan, or no more than a cliché or truism that you must revise.

The Five disqualifiers are introduced in Chapter 8 of the Emergent Approach to Strategy. Here are a few examples of applying the disqualifiers to test a strategy. For additional examples, see the book supplement.

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