Competing for the Future

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The following is a highlighted summary of the book, Competing for the Future, published by Harvard Business School Publishing. The statements below are key points of the book as determined by James Altfeld and have been made available at no charge to the user.

Competing for the Future By Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad

Look around your company. Look at the high profile initiatives that have been launched recently. Look at the issues that are preoccupying senior management. Look at the criteria and benchmarks by which progress is being measured. Look at the track record of new business creation. Look into the faces of your colleagues and consider their dreams and fears. Look toward the future and regenerate success again and again in the years and decades to come. Now ask yourself: Does senior management have a clear and broadly shared understanding of how the industry may be different ten years from now? Are its headlights shining farther out than those of competitors? Is its point of view about the future clearly reflected in the company’s short term priorities? Is its point of view about the future competitively unique? Ask yourself: How influential is my company in setting the new rules of competition within its industry? Is it regularly redefining new ways of doing business building new capabilities, and setting new standards of customer satisfaction? Is it more a rule maker than a rule taker within its industry? Is it more intent on challenging the industry status quo than protecting it? Ask yourself: Is senior management fully alert to the dangers posed by new, unconventional rivals? Are potential threats to the current business model widely understood? Do senior executives possess a keen sense of urgency about the need to reinvent the current business model? Is the task of regenerating core strategies receiving as much top management attention as the task of reengineering core processes? Ask yourself: Is my company pursuing growth and new business development with as much passion as it is pursuing operational efficiency and downsizing? Do we have as clear a point of view about where the next $10, $100, Million or $1Billion of revenue growth will come from as we do about where the next $10Million, $100Million or $1Billion of cost savings will come from?

Ask yourself: What percentage of our improvement efforts (quality improvement, cycle time reduction, and improved customer service) focuses on creating advantages new to the industry, and what percentage focuses on merely catching up to our competition? Are competitors as eager to benchmark us as we are to benchmark them? Ask yourself: What is driving our improvement and transformation agenda – our own view of future opportunities or the actions of our competitors? Is our transformation agenda mostly offensive or defensive? Opportunistic or reactionary? Ask yourself: Am I more of a maintenance engineer keeping today’s business humming along, or an architect imagining tomorrow’s business? Do I devote more energy to prolonging the past than I do creating the future? How often do I lift my gaze out of the rut and consider what’s out there on the horizon? And finally, what is the balance between hope and anxiety in my company; between confidence in our ability to find and exploit opportunities for growth and new business development and concern about our ability to maintain competitiveness in our traditional businesses; between a sense of opportunity and a sense of vulnerability, both corporate and personal? What percent of your time is spent on external rather than internal issues? Of the time looking outward, how much of it is spent considering how the world could be different in five or ten years, as opposed to worrying about winning the next big contract or how to respond to a competitor’s pricing move? Of the time devoted to looking outward and forward, how much of it is spent in consultation with colleagues, where the objective is to build a deeply shared,...
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