Rita McGrath, The End of Competitive Advantage

rita-mcgrath“Strategy” is one of the most abused and least understood words in the business lexicon today. It gets slapped in front of anything to make ideas sound more important. And a lot of the books out there that purport to address how to be strategic are pretty mediocre and, honestly, not worth reading.

So I’m very excited to be talking to Rita McGrath, author of one of the strategy books that is very much worth reading, The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business. Rita is also a professor at Columbia Business School and a globally recognized thought leader on strategy.

In this interview, Rita and I discuss:

  • Outdated approaches to strategy
  • Competitive advantage vs. transient advantages
  • The importance of recognizing the need to make different decisions
  • How workplace culture can overpower strategy
  • The benefits of a holistic approach to strategy
  • How both analysis and intuition factor into strategy

(Scroll down for more in-depth podcast notes.)

Listen to my interview with Rita McGrath.

0:00:00: Rita reflects on older approaches to strategy. She identifies outdated approaches that don’t apply in today’s volatile environment, and explains that companies across all industries need to adapt.

0:05:07: Michael notes that, in her book, Rita encourages businesses to move away from the idea of competitive advantage and to look instead for “in-the-moment” transient advantages. He asks how Rita helps organizations step up to that challenge, and she explains that the first step is to recognize the need to make different decisions.

0:10:01: Michael asks Rita why workplace culture is so influential and why it can trump strategy. She says culture represents the beliefs that guide what’s most important to people, and that companies that are most successful at moving through waves of changing competitive advantage have very strong cultures. Rita also notes that strategy shouldn’t be seen as a purely analytical exercise, and that it’s important to think of it holistically.

0:15:06: Rita and Michael discuss how the implications of a “new world” approach to strategy affect people at all career levels, not only CEOs. Rita elaborates on the idea that strategy today is about both analytics and intuition.

0:20:03: Rita offers her thoughts on innovation and why modern-day businesses, and individuals, need a constant stream of new things to replace the ones that “go away.” She directs listeners to visit RitaMcGrath.com and follow @rgmcgrath on Twitter to learn more.


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