On My Bookshelf – The End Of Competitive Advantage by Rita Gunther McGrath

I started reading The End Of Competitive Advantage by Rita Gunther McGrath a few weeks ago and am now at the point of highlighting and making notes. You know a book is fantastic when you use it like study notes for an exam… The sad part is I’m not at uni anymore!

According to the author: “Strategy is stuck… It’s every company’s holy grail. And it’s no longer relevant for more and more companies. To win in volatile and uncertain environments, executives need to learn how to exploit short lived opportunities with speed and decisiveness.”

This book offers a set of practices based on the notion of transient, not sustainable, competitive advantage. It goes against everything I was taught in Strategic Marketing, in fact my old lecturer Will Picket would be attempting to burn this book if he ever read it!

Dramatic changes in industries, the competitive landscape, and technology have unearthed a major gap between traditional approaches to strategy and the way the B2B market works now. Most leaders are using frameworks that were designed for a different era of business and based on a bureaucratic approach of data mining, internal strategy packs and the development of competitive advantage that is flawed. Rita Gunther McGrath argues that it’s time to be different and forge a new path to winning: capturing opportunities fast, exploiting them decisively, and moving on even before they are exhausted.

This book serves as a new playbook for marketing 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. One key take-out for me was to not guess how customers will respond to an idea, instead pilot it and try it out. Don’t be guided by the noise of bureaucracy and complacency. Test the idea – like Procter & Gamble’s well known “working it” and “living it” programs. At any rate, the golden rule still applies – don’t listen to what customers tell you, understand how they actually behave.

Love this book!