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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