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I had high hopes of this book as I was interested to find out how the author could justify the argument of how the old ways of strategic planning were wrong and that she had a new playbook for dealing with a world of continuous change.

I was left disappointed.

Initially I was reminded of Richard D'Aveni's very good book, Hypercompetition but where that had substance, this doesn't. Next up was Peter Senge and The Learning Organisation. Then I found myself reminded of Hamel and Prahalad's work on strategic intent and core competences and the importance of partnering to bring together best-in-class resources and capabilities.

One of the big ideas is that firms need to be better at managing across the life cycle of initial introduction, growth, maturity and decline but isn't that what the Growth-Share Matrix considered, albeit superficially?

This seems to have become a rehash of the idea that success paves the way for failure through management complacency and hubris. Old techniques like the Five Forces model and PEST analysis won't work if they are not done with insight and imagination. Was the decline of the old Blackberries obvious when the technologies that allowed the iPhone and the Android smartphones to be developed? I'd have said it was but the company was reluctant to challenge its existing products when they were still market leaders? Should Kodak have recognised the threat of the technology that created digital photography? Again yes.

I expected new ideas but I found myself on a tour of existing strategic ideas dressed up with updated anecdotes. Anyway how sustainable were old style sustainable competitive advantages. I don't remember anyone telling me they'd last forever or that competitors wouldn't attack and innovate or that customer needs wouldn't change.

I expected far more. I recommend "Your Strategy Needs A Strategy" by Martin Reeves et al which sets up a three dimensional framework for helping you to understand where classical strategy or more adaptive styles are necessary. With that framework in mind, this book may make much more sense once you narrow down the situations where its messages apply. Unfortunately I read the books in the wrong order.
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on 1 March 2014
the premise of the book is interesting, and were it an article it would be worth the read. But the theme is stretched every which way, the advice is at times breathtakingly banal and it lacks any real data to be considered a serious piece of insight. The style of the book is very anecdotal, and underlines the weakness of any real research.
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on 28 March 2014
Makes you think outside the box, great for understanding strategy in new fast ,global world we live in. Case studies were great to understand new concept
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The title of this book is almost immediately contradicted by its thesis: there will always be competitive advantage but that advantage will be transient rather than sustainable. Rita McGrath focuses on what she characterizes as "the new strategic logic -- where to compete, how to compete, and how to win...when competitive advantages are temporary." She identifies and examines a number of lessons that can be learned "from companies that have learned to ride the wave from one transient advantage to another." Although she resists the temptation to cite the Maginot Line as a case in point, it is analogous to many (if not most) companies whose leaders assume that (a) competitive advantage can be sustainable and (b) stability rather than change (or innovation) will ensure success.

She makes several other important points when asserting that "a new level of analysis that reflects the connection between market segment, offer, and geographic location at a granular level is needed. I call this an [begin italics] arena [end italics]. Arenas are characterized by particular connections between customers and solutions, not be the conventional description of offerings that are near substitutes for one another." Moreover, companies that compete in several different markets, especially if those markets are both domestic and international, will almost certainly not take the same approach in all or even most of them.

I agree with McGrath: "The imagery of arena-based strategy is more of an orchestration than of plotting a compelling victory, and implementation on the ground by those actually confronting conditions within a specific arena becomes increasingly important." It is imperative that front liners be involved when decisions are made about "where to compete, how to compete, and how to win"; then, they should have authority as well as responsibility during competition in he given arena.

These are among the dozens of passages that caught my eye, also listed to indicate the scope of McGrath's coverage.

o The New Logic of Strategy (Pages 7-18)
o The New Strategy Playbook (18-24)
o Escaping the [Long-Term] Competitive Advantage Trap (30-32)
o Sources of Stability (34-41)
o Five Sources of Agility (41-49)
o Early Warnings of Decline: What Do You Look For? (54-57)
o Different Strategies for Disengagement (59-74)
o Freeing the Hostages: How Accenture Did It (86-87)
o Parsimony, Parsimony, Parsimony (92-93)
o What Innovation Proficiency Looks Like (103-111)
o How Do You Build Innovation Proficiency if You Don't Have It? (115-124)
o You Can't Manage a Secret: Seek Disconfirmation Rather Than Confirmation (144-147)
o A Different Mind-Set (158-159)
o Competitive Advantage: Power to the People (162-165)
o Living in the Transient-Advantage Economy (184)

Although the aforementioned lessons to be learned are based on McGrath's research and her close association with global giants (e.g. ccenture, Alcoa, Brambles, CHEP, CSEP, General Electric, HDFC, IBM, Nokia, Novartis, and Sargentia), the same lessons are directly relevant to almost any other companies (whatever their size and nature may be) whose leaders must also understand how "to ride the wave from one transient advantage to another."

In my opinion, this is Rita McGrath's most important book thus far because its potential impact and value are greater than any of hers that preceded it to publication. "Like it or not, the transient advantage economy is here with us now and shows no sign of retreat. My hope is that in reading this book and learning about the extraordinary people and organizations who have figured out how to thrive in this new landscape, you will be inspired." I share that hope, presuming to add that I also agree with Thomas Edison: "Vision without execution is hallucination."
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on 15 July 2015
Excellent stuff. Counter-intuitive and thoughtful. Andrew St George
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on 16 September 2013
It is well written and easy to pick up / put down which is needed in such a book. There is text that can be directly used in discussions where you are trying to sell the benefit of a new approach to strategy.
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on 28 January 2015
Very good book for business and marketing student. I met the author. She's brilliant!
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