Winning in business today is not about being number one--it's about who "gets to the future first," write management consultants Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad. In Competing for the Future
, they urge companies to create their own futures, envision new markets, and reinvent themselves.
Hamel and Prahalad caution that complacent managers who get too comfortable in doing things the way they've always done will see their companies fall behind. For instance, the authors consider the battle between IBM and Apple in the 1970s. Entrenched as the leading mainframe-computer maker, IBM failed to see the potential market for personal computers. That left the door wide open for Apple, which envisioned a computer for every man, woman, and child. The authors write, "At worst, laggards follow the path of greatest familiarity. Challengers, on the other hand, follow the path of greatest opportunity, wherever it leads." They argue that business leaders need to be more than "maintenance engineers," worrying only about budget cutting, streamlining, re-engineering, and other old tactics. Definitely not for dilettantes, Competing for the Future is for managers who are serious getting their companies in front. -- Dan Ring
Hamel and Prahalad have coauthored a number of best-selling, award-winning articles for the Harvard Business Review
on corporate strategy and competition. Among them has been The Core Competence of the Corporation, HBR
's most reprinted article ever. Expanding on this earlier work, they suggest here that the current emphasis on corporate structure (re-engineering, downsizing, etc.) is misplaced and that corporations that will be successful in the future will transform their industry rather than themselves. That transformation will occur by developing strategies to exploit a company's core competencies instead of its current product line. For example, Nike's core competence is not shoe quality, but, rather, design and merchandising. Likewise, Sony's is miniaturization; McDonald's, convenience; and Wal-Mart's, logistics. The authors' accessible style (most footnotes are from the popular business press, and Fortune
plans to serialize their book) and thought-provoking insights should make this a much-sought-after business title. David Rouse