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
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And of the time spent looking forward, no more than 20%is spent attempting to build a collective view of the future (the other 80% is spent looking at the future of the manager’s particular business). Thus, on average, senior management is devoting less than 3% (40% x 30% x 20% = 2.4%) of its energy to building a corporate perspective on the future. In some companies the figure is less than 1%. Questions go unanswered because to address them senior managers must first admit, to themselves and to their employees, that they are less than fully in control of their company’s future. So the urgent drives out the important, the future goes largely unexplored; and the capacity to act, rather than the capacity to think and imagine, becomes the sole measure of leadership.

If it is not the future, just what is occupying senior management’s attention? Restructuring and Reengineering. They have more to do with shoring up today’s business than creating tomorrow’s industries. Neither is a substitute for imagining and creating the future. Neither will ensure continued success if a company fails to regenerate its core strategies. When a competitiveness problem (stagnant growth, declining margins, and falling market share) finally becomes inescapable, most executives pick up the knife and begin the brutal work of restructuring. The goal is to carve away
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