In an age of rapid change and constant disruption, management scholar Rita McGrath suggests old approaches to strategy are due for an overhaul. In her six-step strategy playbook for the future, customer is key, adaptability is essential, and innovation is the lifeblood of an organisation.
Rita McGrath is a scholar and professor of management at Columbia Business School. A renowned expert on innovation and growth strategies, she is ranked among the leading global thinkers on business management and strategy. She is also the author of five books and countless articles on the subject.
For McGrath, the case of the missing label is not just an annoying customer experience. It illustrates a key lesson for companies in today's business environment.
“Over time the typical company becomes inwardly focused. They start to drive a lot of their activities around what they need. It's really easy to lose sight of what the customer actually wants from them,” she explains.
Much has been written about the accelerating speed of change, the new age of digital disruptions. The old military concept VUCA — short for “volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity” — has gone from a business school buzz-word to an apt description of the world at large.
According to McGrath, this means a sustainable competitive advantage, once the holy grail of strategy, no longer exists.
Sure, having the assets and capabilities that grant your organisation a unique long-term advantage over the competition is still a great thing, she says. But in the fast-moving VUCA world, where customers and competitors are fickle and unpredictable, it's becoming more and more difficult to attain, and even harder to sustain.
Over time the typical company becomes inwardly focused. They start to drive a lot of their activities around what they need. It’s really easy to lose sight of what the customer actually wants from them.
This is no news to today's business leaders, says Sarah Sipilä, director of KPMG's Global Strategy Group. She helps client companies draw up and implement strategy and growth, mapping the competitive arena and anticipating upcoming inflection points.
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