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Outthink the Competition: How a New Generation of Strategists Sees Options Others Ignore Hardcover – December 20, 2011

3.9 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Forge unexpected pathways to win strategic advantage

In business, you can face disruption in one of two ways. Like most people—and most companies—you can fall back on tried-and-true rules. They've always worked in the past, and you hope they'll work for you again. Or, you can recognize that the game has changed, and look beyond your current playbook to create an entirely new strategic reality.

If you pick the second option, then you are ready to Outthink the Competition. Written by business strategist and popular Fast Company blogger Kaihan Krippendorff, this groundbreaking guide identifies and appeals to a new generation of "outthinker" entrepreneurs and business leaders. These innovators succeed in today's breakneck business environment by spotting overlooked opportunities, leveraging underutilized resources, and seizing asymmetric advantages.

Outthinkers beat their rivals not by being bigger or stronger, but by producing breakthroughs. Outthink the Competition gives you and your team a proven system to harness this strategic creativity, and presents stories of outthinker companies that are successfully reshaping their industries, including Apple, Google, Rosetta Stone, Tesla Motors, and many more. You'll discover how you can:

  • Understand the nature and potential of today's business revolution

  • Force your competition into two-front battles that give you the high ground

  • Develop the Five Habits of the Outthinker

  • Construct a true Outthinker culture

  • Apply the Outthinker Process for game-changing ideas

  • Incorporate systems thinking and cognitive science principles into your approach

  • And more!

If you want to win a strategic contest, don't let your opponents set the terms. Instead, Outthink the Competition and make the unexpected choices that will leave the competition disoriented and you moving ahead to master the next challenge.

From the Back Cover


"The nature of global business competition has been undergoing a radical change, and new ways of thinking and acting are required to become and stay effective in this newly defined environment. In Outthink the Competition, Kaihan outlines the specific changes underway and provides practical tools to help you adopt a new mindset to link your strategy to key financial indicators for better results. If you do not yet understand the strategic value of being good or how to wield the emerging power of coordination, read this book."
ROBERT CANCALOSI, Chief Learning Officer, GE Healthcare

"While our bookshelves are now filled with advice on how to manage organizations, inspire employees, and connect with consumers in this new era, no one has talked convincingly about how to manage the competition . . . until now. Outthink the Competition shows how to adjust your strategy to the new realities of business in order to outplay, outwit, and outlast your competitors."
SALOMON SREDNI, CEO, TradeStation Group

"In Outthink the Competition, Kaihan underscores the strategic power of being able to see, intelligently select, and pursue new options that your competition overlooks. This ability is the starting spark of all great growth stories and it is a critical skill for leaders to master. If you want to continue out-innovating the competition, take a closer look at the systematic process outlined in this book."

"Companies rightfully spend an enormous amount of time and effort seeking to better understand our customers. But we often overlook a player with an equally important seat at the table: the competition. In Outthink the Competition Kaihan helps adjust for this imbalance. He provides practical methods to systematically analyze and intelligently manage the competition. This does not mean copying or even responding to the competition. It means precisely the opposite."
MARC SPEICHERT, Chief Marketing Officer, L'Oreal USA

"Without a truly compelling and simple strategy that is able to thwart the competition, the next three–five years of execution is going to be a waste of time—or at least not as much fun! Kaihan provides an approach that will get the job done."
VERNE HARNISH, CEO, Gazelles; author of Mastering the Rockefeller Habits


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (December 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118105087
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118105085
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #657,200 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John Gibbs on February 16, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Outthinkers step outside of the accepted paradigms in which thinkers operate, acting differently because they see the world differently, according to Kaihan Krippendorff in this book. Ordinary thinkers at first dismiss the outthinkers, then they ridicule them, and then they try to copy them. But it is too late if the outthinkers have gained a sustainable advantage.

The secret to success for outthinkers, then, is to make a few strategic choices to which your competition will not be able to respond effectively. Examples of companies which have done this to their competitors include Google, Netflix, Sohu.com, Research in Motion, Intuitive Surgical, eBay, Apple, Southwest Airlines, Dell and Home Depot. In each case, the company seized a strategic option that others were ignoring.

The basis of competition between companies is shifting from an economies-of-scale environment to a free-flow-of-information environment. Improved communications are driving middlemen out of business. The pace of competition is accelerating. Self-organized citizens and customers are seizing control. A small number of outthinkers are succeeding, but the majority of businesses are treading water or going backwards.

The author goes on to describe the "new playbook" (consisting of key strategies which outthinkers follow), the "habits" of outthinkers, a step-by-step process for applying outthinking to any organization, and the phases involved in rebuilding an organization from within.

While the book relied a little too much on ancient Chinese military strategy for my taste, I found the author's arguments about the changing business environment convincing and his analyses of successful companies compelling. Business really has become more difficult and customers more demanding; in my opinion this book provides some very useful tools for envisioning ways of adapting to succeed.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
OUTTHINK THE COMPETITION is one of the best books I have read on corporate innovation in over 15 years and codifies quite possibly the best single system for driving business growth across companies ranging from startups to Fortune 50.

Kai Krippendorff has conducted ground-breaking research on the strategies, tactics and techniques that separate "gazelles", or hypergrowth companies, from the rest.
* He studied the growth characteristics and financial metrics of over 3,000 companies, and isolated the commonalities among a small group of about 100 companies that clearly exceeded the rest on revenue, profit and in many cases market share.
* Kai then codified it into a simple, easy-to-understand system and methodology that is used globally by executives ranging from Fortune 50 corporate leaders to emerging economy entrepreneurs.
* I personally have incorporated the Outthinker Method into my own innovation system and daily work, and find it incredibly powerful. My colleagues look at me like I'm a magician because of the innovative thinking I'm able to derive using this system.

OUTTHINK THE COMPETITION is a must-read for anyone who aspires to grow their business, whether they are a publicly listed large-cap company or a two-person startup.

After you've read OUTTHINK THE COMPETITION, I'd suggest considering HIDE A DAGGER BEHIND A SMILE which goes into more detail on the 36 strategies used throughout OUTTHINK THE COMPETITION. I find myself using more and more of these strategies in my daily work and am excited to familiarize myself with the entire toolbox.

Important Disclosures: (1) we are considering how Outthinking might apply to Ernst & Young LLP and/or our clients (2) in the consultancy I ran prior to joining Ernst & Young, I discussed potentially partnering with Kai on several projects and we presented programs to two of his Fortune 500 clients.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is everything I look for and appreciate in a business book: it anchors a forward-thinking in historical context, it provides a simple and easily replicatable model, and it provides plenty of entertaining examples.

As the pace of change accelerates in all businesses and industries, leaders need to inspire their teams not just to meet competitors on the field of battle, but to outthink them. Innovation isn't just about a new product or technology - it's about letting go of long-held beliefs, seeing the world in different ways, and being open to new possibilities. This is incredibly difficult when you are focused on a million daily execution points as we all are.

Among my favorite ideas in the book were "Finding the 4th Option" (most competitors only develop 3 solutions to any problem and those who push for a 4th often find the magic) and the 5 Rules for OutThinking which include 1) Moving Early the Next Battleground, 2) Coordinating the Uncoordinated, 3) Force a Two-Front Battle, 4) Be Good, and 5) Create Something From Nothing. Interestingly, after reading the book I realized I had unknowingly applied these 4 strategies in the evolution of my own business several years earlier.

OutThink the Competition provides a powerful framework for breaking the cycle of "me too" thinking and acting in ways that the competition never will. Combined with Kaihan's workshop, which I just experienced this past weekend, this book will allow any leader to develop new and fundamentally different strategies for disrupting their industry.
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