“Transcient Advantage”: A Classic Article from HBR

Here is an excerpt from a classic article written by Rita Gunther McGrath and published in Harvard Business Review (June 2013). To read the complete article, check out others, sign up for email alerts, and obtain subscription information, please click here.

Illustration Credit: Tara Donovan, Untitled (Styrofoam Cups), 2008, Styrofoam cups and glue, installation dimensions variable

* * *

Briefly, “The dominant idea in the field of strategy — that success consists of establishing a unique competitive position, sustained for long periods of time — is no longer relevant for most businesses. They  need toembrace the notion og transcient advantage instead, learning to launch new strategic initiatives again and again, and creating a portfolio of advantages that can be built quickly and abandoned just as rapoidly. Success will require a new set of operational capabilities.”

McGrath suggests that companies that want to create a portfolio of transcient advantages need to make eight major shifts in the way that they operate.

1. Think about arenas, not industries.
2. Set broad themes, and then let people experiment.
3. Adopt metrics that support entrepreneurial growth.
4. Focus on experiences and solutions to problems.
5. Build strong relationships and networks.
6. Avoid brutal restructuring; learn healthy disengagement.
7. Get systematic about early-stage innovation.
8. Experiment, iterate, learn.

“In a world where advantages last for five minutes, you can blink and miss the window of opportunity.”

I presume to add that sometimes that “window” is a port hole.

* * *

Here is a direct link to the complete article.

Rita Gunther McGrath is a best-selling author, a sought-after speaker, and a longtime professor at Columbia Business School. She is widely recognized as a premiere expert on leading innovation and growth during times of uncertainty. Rita has received the #1 achievement award for strategy from the prestigious Thinkers50 and has been consistently named one of the world’s Top 10 management thinkers in its bi-annual ranking. As a consultant to CEOs, her work has had a lasting impact on the strategy and growth programs of Fortune 500 companies worldwide. She was recently named the #1 Management Thinker by Global Gurus.


Posted in

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.