Are you at risk of being trapped in your career in the forthcoming years?

The End of Competitive Advantage by Rita Gunther McGrath

Book introduction 

Chances are the strategies that worked well for you even a few years ago no longer deliver the results you need. Dramatic changes in business have unearthed a major gap between traditional approaches to strategy and the way the real world works now.

In short, strategy is stuck. Most leaders are using frameworks that were designed for a different era of business and based on a single dominant idea—that the purpose of strategy is to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage. Once the premise on which all strategies were built, this idea is increasingly irrelevant.

Now, Columbia Business School professor and globally recognized strategy expert Rita Gunther McGrath argues that it’s time to go beyond the very concept of sustainable competitive advantage. Instead, organizations need to forge a new path to winning: capturing opportunities fast, exploiting them decisively, and moving on even before they are exhausted. She shows how to do this with a new set of practices based on the notion of transient competitive advantage.

This book serves as a new playbook for strategy, one based on updated assumptions about how the world works, and shows how some of the world’s most successful companies use this method to compete and win today.

Filled with compelling examples from “growth outlier” firms such as Fujifilm, Cognizant Technology Solutions, Infosys, Yahoo! Japan, and Atmos Energy, The End of Competitive Advantage is your guide to renewed success and profitable growth in an economy increasingly defined by transient advantage.


Book summary 

My review

I read the book February 2014. On Goodreads I concluded my reading progress with “Funny to realize that a strategy guru is at her best translating trends to one’s personal level”.  That statement dealt with the last chapter.

During the process of formulating my thoughts, i linked her recommendations to Taleb’s Antifragile. That does not imply that McGrath’s work deals with disorder. It describes an approach how the world now operates and what mindset organizations need to operate successfully in forever changing circumstances.

And the last chapter takes it to the professional and personal level. Not about corporations, CEO but about you and me. How to deal, how to survive and even how to thrive.

Acknowledge that the world and work has become volatile and you have to adapt. As McGrath states” “in a world of sustainable advantages”, you could actually plan a career path and expect a relatively long employment relationship with companies” (italics by Fred).

Forget it.

In the past there was infrequent job hunting and your career was mainly managed by your organization. Now and in the future you manage your career and professional all by your yourself in a permanent career campaign. And that leads us to the question how vulnerable you are and what one can do to mitigate that vulnerability. Be sure, in a world of transient advantage, business leaders will only keep those staff members who are indispensable to the companies (uncertain) future. And that’s why flux is increasingly the norm for the careers of more and more people.

The last chapter has a self-assessment form and enables you to consider your weaknesses and strengths. In such a way that you can develop your own professional personal strategy for a transient advantage.  Items that are addressed are amongst others:

  • If your current employer let you go, would it be relatively easy for you to find a similar role in another orMarta Orlowskaganization for equivalent compensation.
  • If I lost my job today, am i well prepared and know immediately what i would do next.
  • Have i worked in some meaningful capacity (employment, consulting, volunteering, partnering) with at least five different organizations within the last two years.
  • In the last two years, I’ve learned a meaningful new skill that i did not have before, whether is is work related or not.
  • I have attended a course or a training program within the last two years, either in person or virtually.
  • I could name, off the top of my head, at least 10 people, who would be good leads for new opportunities.
  • I actively engage with at least two professional or personal network.

You need to forge a new path to win: capture opportunities fast, exploit them decisively, and move on even before they are exhausted.  And have answers to the above mentioned questions.

The book will support you in finding the answers, on an organization, professional and personal level.


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McKinsey Quarterly’s 10 articles 2012

In this, our final Top Ten Newsletter of 2012, we’ve rounded up the most popular articles among readers this year. Read them today and join the conversation.
Demystifying social media 1. MARKETING & SALES
Demystifying social media
As the marketing power of social media grows, it no longer makes sense to treat it as an experiment. Here’s how senior leaders can harness social media to shape consumer decision making in predictable ways.
[includes interactive]
How leaders kill meaning at work art 2. GOVERNANCE
How leaders kill meaning at work
Senior executives routinely undermine creativity, productivity, and commitment by damaging the inner work lives of their employees in four avoidable ways.
The executive's guide to better listening art 3. GOVERNANCE
The executive’s guide to better listening
Strong listening skills can make a critical difference in the performance of senior executives, but few are able to cultivate them. Here’s how.
Becoming more strategic: Three tips for any executive
You don’t need a formal strategy role to help shape your organization’s strategic direction. Start by moving beyond frameworks and communicating in a more engaging way.5. STRATEGY
A CEO’s guide to innovation in China
Dynamic domestic players and focused multinationals are helping China churn out a growing number of innovative products and services. Intensifying competition lies ahead; here’s a road map for navigating it.

How strategists lead
A Harvard Business School professor reflects on what she has learned from senior executives about the unique value that strategic leaders can bring to their companies.

Motivating people: Getting beyond money
The economic slump offers business leaders a chance to more effectively reward talented employees by emphasizing nonfinancial motivators rather than bonuses.8. STRATEGY
The social side of strategy
Crowdsourcing your strategy may sound crazy. But a few pioneering companies are starting to do just that, boosting organizational alignment in the process. Should you join them?

Managing the strategy journey
Regular strategic dialogue involving a broad group of senior executives can help companies adapt to the unexpected. Here’s one company’s story, and some principles for everyone.

The human factor in service design
Focus on the human side of customer service to make it psychologically savvy, economically sound, and easier to scale.

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Strategy or Execution: Which Is More Important?

Found at Strategy or Execution: Which Is More Important?.

Many business leaders think they’d rather have great execution than superior strategies, but you can’t have the first without the second.

Read all at Strategy or Execution: Which Is More Important?.

My point of view: strategy first, execution second (with very little distance between these 2 concepts).

spoony:“Approaches to the History of Art”, Edie Campbell photographed by Aladair McLellan in 032C Fall 2012

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Talent Edge 2020 Redrafting talent strategies for the uneven recovery

Candy bags! | Fine Little Day

Talent Edge 2020
Redrafting talent strategies for the uneven recovery

Despite a new wave of uncertainty, many leading companies are pressing forward and reshaping their talent strategies. Many executives foresee leadership shortages in the year ahead and are looking at programs to accelerate leadership development within their companies. At the same time, given the stalled economy, many companies are seeking new sources of growth and are tailoring talent plans to address differing regional needs to support effective talent strategies and business operations.

To help shed light on how companies are adjusting to the demands of today’s talent market, Deloitte launched Talent Edge 2020—a longitudinal survey series conducted in collaboration with Forbes Insights. This January 2012 edition of Talent Edge 2020, Talent Edge 2020: Redrafting talent strategies for the uneven recovery builds from the findings of two earlier studies: the first from a December 2010 report on executive attitudes and the second from an April 2011 report on global employee attitudes and talent concerns. The key findings include:

Companies are seeking new sources of growth in a stalled economy: When asked to rank their top strategic priorities, 38% of surveyed executives listed improving top- and bottom-line performance, followed by expanding into global and new markets at 33%.
Executives are looking to strengthen their leadership development pipelines and programs: Approximately one-third (30%) of executives surveyed ranked developing leaders and succession planning as today’s top talent priority—the highest of any response in the survey. A nearly equal percentage (29%) predicted it will likely remain the top talent concern over the next three years.
Organizations’ top three most pressing talent concerns in 2011

Click graph to enlarge

As talent demands go increasingly global, the pressure is building to create talent strategies that can both scale (for size and efficiency) and focus on regional markets: Surveyed Asia Pacific (APAC) executives face urgent needs, with significant shortages anticipated in research & development (R&D) (68%), operations (64%), and strategy and planning (62%). Survey participants in the Americas see executive leadership and operations as the main talent gaps (both 56%), while business leaders in the Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region are far less concerned about shortfalls in talent.
Corporate talent programs are falling short on performance and investment: Only 17% of executives surveyed believe their talent programs are “world-class across the board,” while 83% acknowledge that significant improvements need to be made. Executives who call their talent efforts “world-class” are more likely to report —by margins of 20 percentage points or more—that their companies are investing in these programs at a “high” level.

Read all at

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Straight Line Thinking Stops Here. Designing business success in a non-linear world

Alan Moore runs workshops, offers mentoring, and undertakes keynote speaking to help and inspire companies and organisations to join up the dots of our non-linear world and make sense of what those dots mean.

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Resolutions 2011: A Strategy for Bringing Customers Into Every Meeting

Somewhere, at a time at the end of a meeting with senior management I remarked that I did not hear the word customer (yes, also shame on me). After some time in competitive benchmarks positions dropped and dropped. If there is a relation I do not know.

But one of my resolutions for me on the personal and professional level is at each task, challenge, each mail, each meeting, each face to face conversation to start with focusing on the customer benefits.

Found at Blogging Innovation » A Strategy for Bringing Customers Into Every Meeting.

A Strategy for Bringing Customers Into Every MeetingWhat’s your strategy for starting meetings?

Here’s an innovative variation on the standard strategy of starting a meeting by re-stating an objective to ensure everyone present understands why they NEED to be present. One of our clients shared that their company expects each meeting to begin with a statement of what the meeting will mean for customers.

Especially in larger companies where it’s easy for staff members to go for extended periods without ever seeing a customer, this

To be continued at

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