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Hardcover Competing on the Edge: Strategy as Structured Chaos Book

ISBN: 0875847544

ISBN13: 9780875847542

Competing on the Edge: Strategy as Structured Chaos

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Book Overview

Unstable markets, fierce competition, and relentless change are the only certainties in today's chaotic business world. In their startling new book, authors Brown and Eisenhardt contend that to prosper in such volatile conditions, standard survival strategies must be tossed aside in favor of a revolutionary new paradigm--competing on the edge. To compete on the edge is to relentlessly reinvent, and it's the only way to navigate the treacherous waters...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Fresh View of Strategy

As a business school student I have covered a plethora of theories and frameworks regarding strategic analysis, planning, and development. Brown & Eisenhardt provide a fresh look at strategy. Competing on the Edge provides the latest thinking on emergent strategy and succeeding within high-velocity industries. Regardless if you are in industry or the classroom, this book is a must if you ever plan to drive strategy at the business level-no matter what the pace of change is in your industry. This book will teach you to think in new ways about how you create, manage and defend competitive advantage. This read will take you far beyond Porter, Mintzberg, and Barney.

Ten rules of competing on the edge

Shona L.Brown and Kathleen M.Eisenhardt's book is dynamic and major break from traditional static approaches. "Competing on the edge contrasts with other approaches to strategy that assume clear industry boundaries, predictable competition, or a knowable future...The underlying insight behind competing on the edge is that strategy is the result of a firm's organizing to change constantly and letting a semicoherent strategic direction emerge from that organization...A semicoherent strategic direction is fundamentally different from what is traditionally called strategy" (p.7). Here, they ask, "What is unique and even provocative about it?":* It is unpredictable. Competing on the edge is about surprise.* It is uncontrolled. It is not about command and precision planning by senior executives.* It is inefficient. Competing on the edge is not necessarily efficient in the short term.* It is proactive. Competing on the edge is not about passively watching for the occasional discontinuity or waiting for other firms to move before taking action.* It is continuous. It is about a rhythm of moves over time; not a set of disjointed actions.* It is diverse. Competing on the edge is about making a variety of moves with varying scale and risk.In this context, they write that "the premise of this book is that change is pervasive. The implcation is that the key strategic challenge facing managers in many contemporary businesses is managing this change. The challenge is to react quickly, anticipate when possible, and lead change where appropriate. A manager's dilemma is how to do this, not just once or every now and then, but consistently. Our book has argued that competing on the edge is the unpredictable, often uncontrolled, and even inefficient strategy that nonetheless defines best practice when change is pervasive." And,then, they list ten rules of competing on the edge that articulate the key assumptions and best practices about strategy, organization, and leadership that they have found to characterize firms that compete on the edge:I- StrategyRule 1. Advantage is temporary.Rule 2. Strategy is diverse, emergent, and complicated.Rule 3. Reinvention is the goal.II- OrganizationRule 4. Live in the present.Rule 5. Stretch out the past.Rule 6. Reach into the future.Rule 7. Time pace change.III- LeadershipRule 8. Grow the strategy.Rule 9. Drive strategy from the business level.Rule 10. Repatch businesses to markets and articulate the whole.Highly recommended.

When management is a jazz improvisation

This is a very interesting book, which I bought after reading one article by Prof Eisenhardt at Red Herring Magazine. Her point, which is that businesses expecting rapid adaptation to constant changes should adopt a mix of structure and informality, is very compelling. This point about the edge of balance between structure and the lack of it is an application of learnings from complexity theory. The idea is compelling and is worth a try, albeit a cautious one (would you bet your entire business on it, just like that?). The authors deserve the criticism that they do not provide a very clear and structured model to follow, but this would be a paradox: providing structure to combat structure. The book is inspiring, a tour de force of intriguing insights. At the very least, it makes you think twice before instituting any kind of burocracy, and that is very good in itself. (By the way, I found it much better than Open Boundaries, which has been mentioned by another reviewer. Open Boundaries lacks the models AND the inspiration.)

A great application of complexity theory to management.

This book is not about magic bullets. No slogans or easy fixes for managers in business. This is a book about the realities of business.There are books out there that discuss complexity theory well but management poorly, and there are also books that discuss management well but complexity theory poorly. This book is an exception in the field because it does a very nice job of discussing both. It is the blend of these two topics that makes it a nice read and a change of pace from other management reading. The book combines some very useful insights with examples that resonate with business people. It tries to explain how some disparate companies in different industries share some characteristics, and how those characteristics define their competitive success.I do have to warn, though, it is not an altogether light read. Although it has light moments, such as decriptions of cool companies, the guts can be dense. The core of the book is based on extensive and serious academic research, and that is evident. This is a serious book for people who want to think about management problems where the solutions are not simple or obvious.

Required reading for strategic managers.+

Andersen Consulting recently completed a study of the worldwide electronics systems industry. One of the key results reported in this study was that those companies that followed traditional approaches to strategy, collaboration, organization, and business processes (as currently taught in most MBA programs and espoused by some consultants), had decreased chances for success compared to those firms whose managers followed innovative approaches to strategic thinking and action. While some details of the innovative approaches were provided in the report, there was no unifying framework to aid managers and researchers in putting the findings in context-nor was there any basis for generalizing the findings to other industries. Competing on the Edge provides such a framework as well as the basis for extension to a wide variety of industries. This book should be required reading for anyone who manages, does business with, invests in, or regulates--or plans to do so--firms in fast-moving environments. The authors identify three key concepts to managing change on a continuous basis: managing on the edge of chaos, managing on the edge of time and time pacing. Each of these concepts is illustrated via the identification and explication of a series of "traps" that, should the managers fall in, result in their companies becoming non-competitors in their industries. The traps are, in turn, detailed by references to a set of disguised studies that form the underpinning for concepts, and brought to life by reference to reinterpreted information about a variety of organizations that have appeared in the business and popular press. One aspect of the book that managers, especially, should appreciate-for Brown and Eisenhardt strategic management does not mean strategy formulation alone; it also includes implementation The book is eminently readable, with a scattering of side-bar boxes containing specific information on concepts raised in the text. The examples employed are nothing short of innovative--when is the last time you saw a management book that used the ecology of a prairie, caribou hunting and the Tour de France to illustrate points about strategy? Competing on the Edge is an excellent way to acquaint practicing managers as well as students in MBA programs with the latest concepts for managing organizations in situations where rapid change is the norm. It will certainly be required reading for my graduate course on Strategic Analysis for High Technology Industries.
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