Tactical, Operational & Strategic Analysis of Markets, Competitors & Industries
Transient Advantage, by Rita Gunther McGrath. Harvard Business Review, June 2013.
Strategy is still useful in turbulent industries like consumer electronics, fast-moving consumer goods, television, publishing, photography, and...well, you get the idea. Leaders in these businesses can compete effectively—but not by sticking to the same old playbook. In a world where a competitive advantage often evaporates in less than a year, companies can’t afford to spend months at a time crafting a single long-term strategy. To stay ahead, they need to constantly start new strategic initiatives, building and exploiting many transient competitive advantages at once. Though individually temporary, these advantages, as a portfolio, can keep companies in the lead over the long run. Firms that have figured this out—such as Milliken & Company, a U.S.-based textiles and chemicals company; Cognizant, a global IT services company; and Brambles, a logistics company based in Australia—have abandoned the assumption that stability in business is the norm. They don’t even think it should be a goal. Instead, they work to spark continuous change, avoiding dangerous rigidity. They view strategy differently—as more fluid, more customer-centric, less industry-bound. And the ways they formulate it—the lens they use to define the competitive playing field, their methods for evaluating new business opportunities, their approach to innovation—are different as well.
This might be corporate strategy's equivalent to maneuver warfare; sounds very John Boyd.
CI could play an intricate role in such a strategy - though not CI in its current form as practiced. This is why CI needs to evolve to meet the current nature of competition in the corporate world - just as the government world of intelligence analysis evolved after 9/11 to meet the challenges of a new nature of conflict.