on November 9, 2002
I bought Moore's previous incarnation of this book (... in the age of the Internet) in April 02 and read the first chapter with incredulity. It was all about how the dot-coms were blowing away traditional businesses with their "market-share at any price" growth strategies. Then the book started getting interesting.
This revised version has the expected mea culpa in the Preface, deletes and replaces chapter 1 of the previous addition, and focuses on what is really valuable in Moore's work. The new chapter 1 highlights Moore's GAP-CAP distinction. GAP (Competitive-Advantage Gap) is what shows up in the numbers, differential success in the here-and-now marketplace. CAP (Competitive-Advantage Period) is a more subtle concept, referring to the ability of a company to sustain its advantages against competitors over time. It underpins future competitive advantage. The combination of a company's GAP and CAP is the real driver of its share price (discounted future earnings), and therefore of shareholder value. Moore write persuasively and in some detail about how this all works.
Chapter 2 explores the second important idea, the CORE-CONTEXT distinction. Here Core is defined as those activities which are central to the company's marketplace differentiation: effective action here directly impacts the share price. Context activities are those which need to be done, and done well, but which the market gives you little credit for. Administrative HR, for example, in companies which are not HR specialists. Moore argues that these are candidates for outsourcing to companies for whom they ARE core competencies. Again Moore elaborates on these basic distinctions.
Subsequent chapters explain the "Competitive Advantage Grid", which is new in this version. Here, the standard analysis of competitive advantage (product leadership vs. customer-focus vs. price/operational excellence - with a new category for disruptive innovation) is cross-referenced to strategies for marketplace differentiation to create a 4 x 4 matrix on which your company can be placed.
The remaining part of the book returns to Moore's familiar themes of the evolution-model of technology-based markets: early-market, chasm, bowling-alley, tornado, main-street. Moore is looking to integrate some of his ideas from the early part of the book into this framework, with a fair degree of success. He closes by discussing business cultures and "culture management", but here the theoretical framework is noticeably weaker. William Bridge's recently re-issued "The Character of Organizations" is a useful complement to what Moore has to say, here.
Overall, I think this book has its greatest value as a conceptual framework for strategic marketing and corporate strategy in hi-tech. I have personally found its ideas extraordinarily useful in telecoms. Reviewers of Moore's earlier books have indicated that some non-trivial work has to be done to apply these ideas to concrete cases. Clearly, some of Moore's rather black and white recommendations have to be nuanced in practice, but as an accessible business strategy primer for the 21st century, I would say this book is essential.
on February 24, 2004
"Living on the Fault Line" is an extension of Geoffrey Moore's previous books, "Crossing the Chasm" and "Inside the Tornado". It examines the various stages of a business, presents methods for managing shareholder value and creating sustainable competitive advantage, and begins to examine how cultural diversity can be used as a competitive strength. Although Moore does introduce business culture and the importance of culture management, his approach to competitive advantage continues to rely on stock price and information technology, distinguishing core and contextual processes, and understanding the impact of technology in causing market shifts. The book is well written and includes many useful diagrams and charts.
With change increasing exponentially, we are living in an environment where understanding and dealing with change is increasingly difficult. While Moore's approach towards competition is traditional, he does provide tools for understanding the apparent chaos in today's environment.
on February 22, 2011
Moore's treatment of the technology adoption lifecycle is fundamental in providing a context for clarifying business strategy. His "competitive advantage grid" provides a ready way to describe current state and future options. He extends the earlier work of by Treacy and Wiersema on value disciplines and takes the description of related organizational characteristics to another level with his discussion and charts on "modeling business cultures."
While many of these items are similar to the earlier edition, this revised edition is as this one goes beyond the internet bubble to address the concerns in any tough economy where the investor perspective becomes increasingly demanding and dominant.
Moore explains that the business in the 21st century is changing requiring investment to incorporate the enabling technology that is becoming increasingly widespread and significant as well as the specialization of work that is becoming necessary to succeed. He also addresses the need for companies to focus on their "core" business functions and take care of the context in other ways, e.g. use of services, outsourcing, and so on.
While Moore has primarily concerned himself with the technology sector, his insights in this book have relevance for all sectors and it remains a classic for helping clarify business strategy and direction.