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Competing for the Future Paperback – April 1, 1996

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Editorial Reviews Review

Winning in business today is not about being number one--it's about who "gets to the future first," write management consultants Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad. In Competing for the Future, they urge companies to create their own futures, envision new markets, and reinvent themselves.

Hamel and Prahalad caution that complacent managers who get too comfortable in doing things the way they've always done will see their companies fall behind. For instance, the authors consider the battle between IBM and Apple in the 1970s. Entrenched as the leading mainframe-computer maker, IBM failed to see the potential market for personal computers. That left the door wide open for Apple, which envisioned a computer for every man, woman, and child. The authors write, "At worst, laggards follow the path of greatest familiarity. Challengers, on the other hand, follow the path of greatest opportunity, wherever it leads." They argue that business leaders need to be more than "maintenance engineers," worrying only about budget cutting, streamlining, re-engineering, and other old tactics. Definitely not for dilettantes, Competing for the Future is for managers who are serious getting their companies in front. -- Dan Ring --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Hamel and Prahalad (coauthors of Harvard Business Review) develop judicious, provocative managerial theses in this sophisticated work. Rejecting recent downsizing and reengineering trends, they present their blueprint for transforming an industry's structure, which, they stress, is the primary challenge facing today's managers. The authors focus on tomorrow's competition and opportunities, vitalizing the company for the future and outrunning competitors to "get to the future first." Pioneering ideas on strategy, leadership competencies and market forces abound in this study. Concepts are presented with numerous visual aids. 50,000 first printing; $75,000 ad/promo; first serial to Fortune; author tour.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; Reprint edition (April 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0875847161
  • ISBN-13: 978-0875847160
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #548,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Irene Rozenberg on January 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Competing for the Future, by Gary Hamel and C. K. Prahalad focuses on new issues and techniques of strategic planning as discovered, articulated, and reported by the authors, both Professors of Business at the University of Michigan. The main message of the book reads as follows: in order for a company to be a success, the company must create its future instead of following other companies into the future.
By "creating the future" the authors understand defining and exploiting yet unknown future market opportunities. The opportunities do not have to be confined to the company's core competencies (although the book places significant emphasis on utilizing those). Instead, the company can choose to find alternate distribution channels, beneficial alliances, and other creative means of reinventing itself. The authors offer a wide array of management tools to successfully perform the corporate definition of future consumer needs.
The authors emphasize the corporate need for continuous innovation and reinvention. According to the book, many once-successful companies have failed because of their lack of regeneration and their erroneous belief in persistence of yesterday's business practices. Among the ways to successful corporate regeneration, the authors credit corporate diversity on the thinking level as successful means for breaking established corporate "myths" of the right way of doing business. The authors note that hiring personnel from outside industries can bring fresh and vital perspective on the present state of an enterprise.
In order to develop the future, a company must first define it. In defining the future today, Hamel and Prahalad suggest building "the best possible assumption base about the future.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By therosen VINE VOICE on September 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
Hamel and Prahalad brought two ideas to the forefront of management in the 1990s: Creating a strategic intent that dominates corporate thinking, and then understanding the core competencies that the organization requires to get there. Rather than create numerous 5 year plans, communicate the direction and insure you have the skills to get there.
The impact of this was felt across corporate Americas. As companies struggled in reacting to changing times, they would talk more of core competencies instead of certainy of the future. Well run companies could also articulate their vision and what they're good at. (Example GE: "We are #1 or #2 in every business we run. We get there by rigorous management and continuous improvement.") These ideas are here to stay.
Is it all so simple? In Consulting Demons, Lewis Pinault takes issue with Prahalad and his consulting practice at Gemini. He asserts that the ideas can be misapplied to fuel a consulting boom, and that Prahalad's missionary zeal was better for generating consulting fees than for corporate bottom lines.
Bottom line - the book is a good introduction to some important strategic concepts. Although it is no longer required reading at top consulting firms, it is still relevant and important. Just take the ideas (like all pop management ideas) with a grain of salt.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 27, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I am a corporate strategy consultant who works mostly with FORTUNE 200 companies, and I also write books and articles about strategy. Strategic thinking has gone in and out of fashion in such companies several times in the last 40 years. With this book, Hamel and Prahalad have raised the value of strategic thinking in the current context in an effective way. This book is clearly designed with the large company in mind, where the need to envision, communicate about, and organize for the future is most difficult. By breaking down strategic thinking into the elements described here, the authors make strategic thinking easier for those who have little experience. Interestingly enough, many companies have "banned" strategic thinking in favor of more tactically-oriented programs that produce near-term cost reductions. Our firm recently did a survey of the most successful CEOs, and they reported that they felt that better strategies had the most potential to most improve their companies. These same CEOs also reported that they understood little about how to create better strategies. In such companies, COMPETING FOR THE FUTURE can provide an excellent balance. A good book to read in conjunction with this one is Peter Drucker's, MANAGEMENT, which provides the intellectual heritage for many of these ideas. For people who need more detail than Drucker normally provides, COMPETING FOR THE FUTURE will be the more helpful book.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Michael Davis on April 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
"On the road to the future, who will be the windshield, and who will be the bug?" - Gary Hamel

To be competitive in today's world, you must focus not only on the here and now, but also focus on creating the future because "Nothing is more liberating than becoming the author of one's on destiny."

Hamel and Prahalad deeply understand the very core of competition, and provide the reader with an understanding of how to build a great company.

Chapter 1: Getting Off the Treadmill

In addition to paying attention to their position in the current market, companies must focus more on creating the future of the industry and their stake in it.

Chapter 2: How Competition for the Future is Different

Competition for the future is competition to maximize the share of future opportunities.

Chapter 3: Learning to Forget

Unless a company wishes to meet the fate of the dinosaurs, it must stop looking in the rear view mirror.

Chapter 4: Competing for Industry Foresight

Industry foresight allows companies to envision ways of meeting unarticulated needs. Foresight arises from wanting to make a difference in people's lives.

Chapter 5: Crafting Strategic Architecture

"Not only must the future be imagined ... it must be built."

Strategic architecture is a set of plans on how to turn your dream into reality.

Chapter 6: Strategy as Stretch

"It is not cash that fuels the journey to the future, but the emotional and intellectual energy of every employee." Strategy must be built upon the juncture of where the firm is and where it wants to be.
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