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The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business

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Are you at risk of being trapped in an uncompetitive business? 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 t Are you at risk of being trapped in an uncompetitive business? 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.


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Are you at risk of being trapped in an uncompetitive business? 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 t Are you at risk of being trapped in an uncompetitive business? 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.

30 review for The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business

  1. 4 out of 5

    Gabriel

    O mundo mudou e a estratégia também. Rita McGrath desenvolve um argumento extremamente relevante para a atual realidade: organizações não tem mais vantagens competitivas sustentáveis e devem se orientar a construir vantagens competitivas transitórias. Neste contexto, a reconfiguração é continua, o desligamento de negócios que já não performam é necessário mas pode ser feito de forma saudável, e alocação de recursos deve considerar não somente os negócios atuais mas também negócios que serão sign O mundo mudou e a estratégia também. Rita McGrath desenvolve um argumento extremamente relevante para a atual realidade: organizações não tem mais vantagens competitivas sustentáveis e devem se orientar a construir vantagens competitivas transitórias. Neste contexto, a reconfiguração é continua, o desligamento de negócios que já não performam é necessário mas pode ser feito de forma saudável, e alocação de recursos deve considerar não somente os negócios atuais mas também negócios que serão significativos no futuro.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    Note: After a few questions from folk I've taken some time to write out my thoughts. You can find them over in the post The Myth of Sustainable Competitive Advantage. The book presents a couple of simple ideas around that fact that in a rapidly changing market you need to have a dynamic approach to strategy. It's based on some academic work that looked at a few top performing companies ("outliers" as the book calls them) over the late 90s through to the late 2000s. The book has all the usual prob Note: After a few questions from folk I've taken some time to write out my thoughts. You can find them over in the post The Myth of Sustainable Competitive Advantage. The book presents a couple of simple ideas around that fact that in a rapidly changing market you need to have a dynamic approach to strategy. It's based on some academic work that looked at a few top performing companies ("outliers" as the book calls them) over the late 90s through to the late 2000s. The book has all the usual problems of this sort of work: 1. The "outliers" are not really outliers. While a small number of firms might have performed better than the market average, that doesn't mean that their success wasn't a happy accident. You need to consider how comparable companies have performed over the same period, as it's more likely that they simply rode up on the success of the sector or geography that they're in. 2. Past performance does not predict future success. The book claims that we're operating in a rapidly changing market. If this is the chase then claiming that the tricks used to find success roughly seven years ago will work today is rather foolish. If the market is rapidly changing then the context we're operating in today is different from 10 years ago, and simply copying the playbook of a firm that was successful is rather foolish. 3. The book provides no insight into why the market is changing, and how it might evolve in the future. 4. The model presented for managing change is trivial. Probably because there is not insight into why the market is changing. Overall is this the sort of book that makes you wonder why the business academics bother.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Claus Mossbeck

    A big fan of Rita's work, a great place to start. A big fan of Rita's work, a great place to start.

  4. 5 out of 5

    A.D. Hoang

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Không chỉ thế giới ngày nay, mà thế giới ngày nào cũng thay đổi. Con người thay đổi thế giới, và thế giới cũng thay đổi con người. Từ muôn đời nay, những tiến bộ về công nghệ (từ rìu đá đến sóng 4G), những phương thức làm việc mới (săn bắt hái lượm hay drop shipping), những thay đổi về cơ cấu thị trường (độc tài, tự do, bán tự do...), và nhất là sự gia tăng không ngừng nghỉ sức mạnh của người tiêu dùng đã đem lại nhiều nguy cơ (nguy hiểm lẫn cơ hội) cho môi trường kinh doanh. Thời nào cũng vậy, Không chỉ thế giới ngày nay, mà thế giới ngày nào cũng thay đổi. Con người thay đổi thế giới, và thế giới cũng thay đổi con người. Từ muôn đời nay, những tiến bộ về công nghệ (từ rìu đá đến sóng 4G), những phương thức làm việc mới (săn bắt hái lượm hay drop shipping), những thay đổi về cơ cấu thị trường (độc tài, tự do, bán tự do...), và nhất là sự gia tăng không ngừng nghỉ sức mạnh của người tiêu dùng đã đem lại nhiều nguy cơ (nguy hiểm lẫn cơ hội) cho môi trường kinh doanh. Thời nào cũng vậy, các đại gia lần lượt chết đi một cách bất ngờ, các công ty mới bỗng dưng bung lụa và trở nên phồn thịnh. Thế nhưng, chính những công ty mới cũng gặp nhiều khó khăn khi tăng trưởng, bế tắc khi phát triển mở rộng. Guồng quay của sự thay đổi có lẽ làm cho cuộc đua hướng tới tương lai trở nên gấp gáp hơn bằng cách bủa ra vô số các thử thách cho cả tổ chức lẫn cá nhân. Vậy, điều bí mật của cuộc đua tranh ngộp thở này là gì, và các nhà lãnh đạo nên tiếp cận với thế cuộc vật đổi sao dời ra sao? 'The End of Competitve Avantage', dịch láo là 'Ngày tàn của Lợi thế Cạnh tranh' là một gợi ý không tồi để trả lời câu hỏi này. Cuốn sách lập luận rằng, thời thế thay đổi, thì chiến lược cũng phải đổi thay. Từ xưa, doanh giới đã từng quen với việc hướng tới xây dựng các lợi thế cạnh tranh bền vững (sustainable competitive advantage) . Các chiến lược gia tìm ra cách để làm cho sản phẩm, dịch vụ của họ trở nên khác biệt với đối thủ trong cả một quãng thời gian dài, qua đó giành thị phần. Theo Rita McGrath, chiến lược này giờ đây đã trở nên lỗi thời, và thậm chí phản tác dụng. Thay vào đó, các nhà quản trị cần nhắm tới các lợi thế cạnh tranh nhất thời (transient competitive advantage). Nói cách khác, bạn cần chớp lấy thời cơ và khai thác chúng một cách quyết liệt. Sau đó, bạn cũng không được dừng lại để hân hoan, mà cần chuyển tiếp sang một thời cơ mới, và biến thời cơ cũ thành một loại tài sản (liability). 'Ngày tàn của Lợi thế Cạnh tranh' gợi ý người đọc cách để thực hiện điều trên. Cuốn sách cung cấp lộ trình và cả công cụ cho môi trường kinh doanh đầy rẫy những biến động như ngày nay. Nếu bạn đang dẫn dắt một tổ chức, bạn sẽ thấy thấm phần lớn nội dung của cuốn này, nhất là nếu tổ chức của bạn đang vấp phải nhiều chướng ngại trong cuộc đua của sự đổi mới. Nếu bạn muốn tìm cách để tổ chức trở nên linh hoạt hơn về cơ cấu nhân sự, để giảm bớt sự phụ thuộc vào các tài sản cố định, hay để rút khỏi những sân chơi mà tổ chức của bạn đang đèo bòng, thì cuốn sách này là dành cho bạn. Hay nói cách khác, nó giúp bạn tiến gần hơn tới việc trả lời các câu hỏi: Làm thế nào để đổi mới hơn nữa? Làm thế nào, Khi nào nên đầu tư, và nên đầu tư vào đâu? Vậy, nếu bạn muốn biết chỗ nào tổ chức của mình nên đặt chân vào, và làm thế nào để sinh tồn trong thời đại mà các lợi thế cạnh tranh không thể tồn tại lâu, thì cuốn sách này dành cho bạn.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Gene Babon

    Michael Porter defined Competitive Advantage. Rita Gunther McGrath proclaims that we have entered a new era of transient competitive advantage -- exploiting short-lived opportunities with speed and decisiveness. In today's market you need to think of customer "jobs to be done," rather than rigid markets influenced by supply and demand.The author uses the Jim Collins approach of identifying outlier companies who have sustained growth for a decade by using principles of transient competitive ad Michael Porter defined Competitive Advantage. Rita Gunther McGrath proclaims that we have entered a new era of transient competitive advantage -- exploiting short-lived opportunities with speed and decisiveness. In today's market you need to think of customer "jobs to be done," rather than rigid markets influenced by supply and demand.The author uses the Jim Collins approach of identifying outlier companies who have sustained growth for a decade by using principles of transient competitive advantage. However, many of these shape-shifting companies are not domestic and will likely be unfamiliar to many Americans reading this book. The author does a good job of organizing and presenting the new strategy playbook for this era of transient competitive advantage. This game plan begins with continuous reconfiguration and healthy disengagement, which is the process of moving out of an exhausted opportunity. This can only be done by letting go of the common practice of defending an advantage to the bitter end. In a world of temporary advantage, innovation needs to be a continuous, core, well-managed process rather than the episodic and tentative process it is in many companies. Words such as "projection," estimate," and "target" should be banned and replaced with words such as "assumption," "feedback," and "checkpoints" or "milestones." Individuals in this new era of transient competitive advantage will need to adjust to survive and prosper. Workers with valuable, rare, or in-demand skills are likely to be rewarded handsomely. Disposable workers will increasing become the norm as companies embrace transient opportunities or face extinction. The final chapter offers checklists and game plans for the individual. Metaphors for work in the era of transient competitive advantage include making a movie, putting on the Olympics, or working in a political campaign. This is the mindset that workers must embrace. Like it or not, the transient-advantage economy has arrived and shows no sign of retreat. Both business leaders and individual workers should consider adding The End of Competitive Advantage to their 21st Century continuous learning library.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rachel (Confessions of a Book Geek)

    Check out my full review here: https://confessionsofabookgeek.com/20... Author Rita Gunther McGrath is described in her Twitter bio as being a strategy and innovation expert and a Top 10 business thinker. Hefty credentials by any standards. I found this to be a very interesting read that touches on some truly game-changing concepts, as well as sharing intriguing insights, into the world of super-successful businesses. I'm not sure just yet how adaptable these concepts are for regular small and med Check out my full review here: https://confessionsofabookgeek.com/20... Author Rita Gunther McGrath is described in her Twitter bio as being a strategy and innovation expert and a Top 10 business thinker. Hefty credentials by any standards. I found this to be a very interesting read that touches on some truly game-changing concepts, as well as sharing intriguing insights, into the world of super-successful businesses. I'm not sure just yet how adaptable these concepts are for regular small and medium-sized companies, but the anecdotes from “outlier” companies definitely provide some food for thought. I read this book as research for part of my Masters programme, and for my purposes it hit the spot, but I think it would make equally great reading for anyone in business, or with an interest in business. It shook up my thinking, took me out of my comfort zone, and (helpfully) provided a strong foundation for my assignment. This book has more widespread appeal than for academic studies alone, as it is a very accessible read offering some how-to pointers for implementing change. Interestingly, McGrath includes a section at the back of the book on how the idea of transient advantage and change strategy can be applied to the individual, and a person’s career path, as seamlessly as it can be applied to business. Overall, I found this to be a solid read that has found a permanent home on my bookshelves.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Marks54

    This is a collection of some essays/lectures organized around the idea competition will force firms to continually seek new advantages rather than relying upon persistent advantage in relatively stable industries. The ideais not new but has been central to how ideas of competition and advantage have been evolving for the last three decades. The notion is that while it is naturally that firms and entrepreneurs will seek to develop a successful business model, sticking with that model, once establ This is a collection of some essays/lectures organized around the idea competition will force firms to continually seek new advantages rather than relying upon persistent advantage in relatively stable industries. The ideais not new but has been central to how ideas of competition and advantage have been evolving for the last three decades. The notion is that while it is naturally that firms and entrepreneurs will seek to develop a successful business model, sticking with that model, once established, will more often than not lead to rigidity and poor adaptation once the firm's environment changes significantly. The author is a professor at Columbia who provides these ideas in a well honed series of lists, supplemented by some examples from her consulting. The ideas are defensible and the examples seem appropriate, more or less. It is hard to escape the feeling that this is an extended marketing blurb for consulting or an executive ed program. As far as it goes, it is fairly good. Reality is always messier than presented in these tomes, however, and the devil is in the details regarding how these ideas are best applied to any effect. It is an acquired taste.

  8. 4 out of 5

    A. Roy King

    Columbia Business School professor Rita Gunther McGrath is one of today's most important business strategy experts. "The End of Competitive Advantage" is based on a compelling premise: that the traditional view of competitive advantage is no longer viable in today's marketplace. As innovation accelerates, says McGrath, companies must recognize that a market advantage is transient. This means that decision-makers must reconfigure their organizations to quickly move on opportunities and to ditch de Columbia Business School professor Rita Gunther McGrath is one of today's most important business strategy experts. "The End of Competitive Advantage" is based on a compelling premise: that the traditional view of competitive advantage is no longer viable in today's marketplace. As innovation accelerates, says McGrath, companies must recognize that a market advantage is transient. This means that decision-makers must reconfigure their organizations to quickly move on opportunities and to ditch declining products and platforms before they become unprofitable. McGrath shows how to reconfigure companies so as to become more deft and versatile -- and ultimately more competitive. Her claims are backed up by research and many spot-on case studies. McGrath is an excellent writer, and her work is very accessible for the educated business reader. ARK

  9. 4 out of 5

    Eric Brasley

    Some entertaining stories to bolster the author's points but they led me to question the leadership more than the strategy or competition. The last chapter is worth the read. It personalizes what is necessary to take advantage in this business economy. Some entertaining stories to bolster the author's points but they led me to question the leadership more than the strategy or competition. The last chapter is worth the read. It personalizes what is necessary to take advantage in this business economy.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Gloria Denoon

    Not only a thought provoking piece, this book also provides practical steps and necessary components to surf on the continuous wave of transient advantages. My favorite chapter is building an innovation proficiency where Rita McGrath shows how to develop a rubric to categorize a pipeline of innovative ideas. I also appreciate her idea of going beyond certain industry and examine potential competitors/threats in a broader arenas. Related to this, young people need to be broadly -gaged as they are Not only a thought provoking piece, this book also provides practical steps and necessary components to surf on the continuous wave of transient advantages. My favorite chapter is building an innovation proficiency where Rita McGrath shows how to develop a rubric to categorize a pipeline of innovative ideas. I also appreciate her idea of going beyond certain industry and examine potential competitors/threats in a broader arenas. Related to this, young people need to be broadly -gaged as they are more likely to move from one profession to another or one firm to another throughout their lives.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sid Mohasseb

    This is the first piece of foundational strategy work I have seen post porter's work. McGrath observations around the dangers that face companies that are comfortable in operating in stability is reality not comprehend by many organizations. Her idea of waves of strategy and competing in arenas are also dead on. She lays down the critical foundation for new ways of approaching strategy (e.g. the caterpillar's edge) - I am personally grateful for her contribution to the field. This is a must read This is the first piece of foundational strategy work I have seen post porter's work. McGrath observations around the dangers that face companies that are comfortable in operating in stability is reality not comprehend by many organizations. Her idea of waves of strategy and competing in arenas are also dead on. She lays down the critical foundation for new ways of approaching strategy (e.g. the caterpillar's edge) - I am personally grateful for her contribution to the field. This is a must read!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Romael

    Arenas de competição são batalhas enquanto os setores de atividade sao a guerra como um todo. Estabelecer a relação entre segmento ( guerra) e oferta e localizacao geografica( batalha) Estratégias diferentes para as diferentes batalhas. Vantagem competitiva transitoria. Nas estrstégias setoriais valem estrategia de priduto, tecnológica e etc; nas arenas as vantagens são mais efemeras tipo nivel de relacionamento e experiencias( qual tarefa vou resolver)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Andres

    The book has some interesting ideas about how innovation and strategy should be approached by companies in environments of high uncertainty and rapid change, but the ideas are only briefly described. It doesn't give much details nor is really concrete. Examples are scattered and not well explained. In my opinion, Clayton Christensen's and Scott Anthony's books and articles are much more insightful about this subject matter. The book has some interesting ideas about how innovation and strategy should be approached by companies in environments of high uncertainty and rapid change, but the ideas are only briefly described. It doesn't give much details nor is really concrete. Examples are scattered and not well explained. In my opinion, Clayton Christensen's and Scott Anthony's books and articles are much more insightful about this subject matter.

  14. 5 out of 5

    David

    Refreshed version of BCG Growth Share matrix. New insights include * Continuous Reconfig * Thoughts on disengaging parts of businesses * Asset Debt (not NPV): investment needed to keep the asset competitive * Treating resource allocation as hostage problem Examples are marginal. infosys and cognizant are not innovative - they are IT bodyshops built on H visa. Other examples are has been stories (Nokia, Sony, Kodak...).

  15. 4 out of 5

    Theodore Kinni

    McGrath argues that sustainable competitive advantage is no longer available in many industries. This requires that companies change their approach to strategy in order to better capture more transient opportunities and exit businesses in which their advantages have waned.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dude-von Dudenstein

    one of those MBA textbooks. Author has tried to derive a framework for strategy by looking at companies and f has fallen short massively. Understanding the strategic framework this way is very challenging and drawing inferences from success of a few companies misses the entire point.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Chris Bumpas

    Chapter 6 and 7 saved this book. The first 5 were very dry.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Gratus

    An important book - it talks about how strategy needs an essential change component. Companies need to build strategy on how they can adopt, not on how they can leverage what they already have.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Riccardo Bua

    Loving the different approach to strategy and how this gives a complete different set of tools and means to tackle the company approach to innovation

  20. 4 out of 5

    Marc

    Interesting concepts/insights.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nam KK

    There are some outstanding strategy books, and there are some strategy bs ones. Unfortunately this one is of the latter. Her writing is dry, and she picked a few quick examples from several companies to back up her points. If your time is scarce, you might want to strategically allocate the precious resource into something else.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Michael Tapp

    This book is a good resource when you are developing a small business as well. Because the business speak is so think it was sometimes hard for me to figure out what the authors meant. All that being said, I got a lot of insights out of this book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Colleen Moore

    Reimagines how you do strategic planning. Once you read it, you can never go back to 5/10/20 year plans.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Deon Louw

    data, data data. Love anecdotes if the become data in the aggregate.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    Great points and ammunition for trying to convince business to concentrate on iterative innovation as part of the day-to-day drive and vision

  26. 5 out of 5

    Francisco X. Arias Larrea

    Excelente. Me ha gustado por lo novedoso del tema. La lectura es de fácil comprensión y apasionante. Recomendado para docentes y estudiantes de escuelas de negocios.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jimmy

    I reread the book today and I still feel very shallow, not only is it attacking an argument Porter never said, (Porter never says all competitive advantages are sustainable), in terms of phase theory, it's not as good as Moore, worse, she may be borrowing from him. Not the same theory, but much worse. Lots of case studies but I don't think they are evident. --- Christensen's apprentices are unbearable. Copycats, cronies. I don't know if the author has really read Porter. Porter did emphasize a lot I reread the book today and I still feel very shallow, not only is it attacking an argument Porter never said, (Porter never says all competitive advantages are sustainable), in terms of phase theory, it's not as good as Moore, worse, she may be borrowing from him. Not the same theory, but much worse. Lots of case studies but I don't think they are evident. --- Christensen's apprentices are unbearable. Copycats, cronies. I don't know if the author has really read Porter. Porter did emphasize a lot that competitive advantages and barriers are always eroding, and industries evolve and mature. Is the author blind or what? Not to mention there are numerous living examples of Porter's theory, for example Boeing. I am not saying innovation is not important and the markets are not changing fast, but it's totally not the end of competitive advantage. Christensen and Porter focus on different issues, and they are complementary. Why attack Porter like crazy all the time. It just makes me feel the author is cynical. Everyone wants to "disrupt" Porter, which only makes me feel more that he is on the altar. Maybe Porter's theory is so phenomenal that it's choking the space of these mediocre scholars, otherwise why are they so angry and always want to attack him? Oh, I almost forgot, the author copy Porter's value chain and name it "Consumption-Chain Analysis" and "links" without mentioning Porter for a single time, in her book "Discovery-Driven Growth". So she did read Porter I guess. Many Christensen's followers do things like this. Just copycats stealing from each other and others, and repeat the same idea again and again. Really disgusting.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dante Albertini

  29. 4 out of 5

    Teee

  30. 4 out of 5

    Leïla Amraoui

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