In The End of Competitive Advantage Rita Gunther McGrath says that strategy is stuck. I confess to not having read the book yet (which I will put right), but I did see a talk recently by Grahame Broadbelt which helpfully summarised some key points and from which I’ve repurposed the graphic below which I rather liked. Grahame described McGrath’s assertion that the purpose of strategy has changed from trying to secure sustainable competitive advantage to exploiting a series of transient competitive advantages that in themselves combine to form long-term advantage. McGrath based this assertion on research that looked at companies which had a market cap of over $1Bn and that had, over the period 2000-2009, sustained a net income growth of 5% above global GDP. There were only ten of these companies, but she looked in detail at the lessons from their strategies. Drawn from that, was a useful framework for a more agile organisational strategy.
There is much in here that is thematically similar to things I’ve written also about, but it struck me as well how much of this is not only about enabling companies to be more agile and flexible, but about moving away from a number of the things that I suspect create a great deal of demoralising frustration amongst employees - the inflexible pursuit of legacy models, an episodic approach to innovation, narrow job roles, rigid planning processes, post strategic-review downsizing and so on. It seems the more successful approach is drawn from a culture that is able to map strategy to motivation.