5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 2001
Gary Hamel is Founder and Chairman of Strategos and Visiting Professor to the London Business School. C.K. Prahalad is Professor of Corporate Strategy and International Business at the University of Michigan. This article was published in the May-June 1989 issue of Harvard Business Review.
"Companies that have risen to global leadership over the past 20 years invariably began with ambitions that were out of all proportion to their resources and capabilities. According to the authors these companies posses "strategic intent", which is "an obsession with winning at all levels of the organization and then sustain that obsession over the 10- to 20-year quest for global leadership." This strategic intent captures the essence of winning, is stable over time, and sets a target that deserves personal effort and commitment. The authors compare the difference in mindset between strategic intent and traditional strategic planning, and introduce an action list which top management should use in order to engage the entire organization and create strategic intent. The authors discuss the four types of competitive innovation: building layers of advantage, searching for loose bricks, changing the terms of engagement, and competing through collaboration. The authors further discuss the limitations of the traditional strategy concepts (Kenneth Andrews, Igor Ansoff, Michael Porter) and traditional organizational structures (strategic business units, decentralization). The authors conclude the article with the real challenge for top management: "developing faith in the organization's ability to deliver on tough goals, motivating it to do so, focusing its attention long enough to internalize new capabilities."
Although some of the examples in this article are now somewhat outdated, the article is still one of the best I have ever read. The article challenges the traditional strategic planning process and the traditional goal-setting by managers. It aims to inspire managers to set greater goals than the traditional year-by-year improvement: "Strategic intent gives employees the only goal that is worthy of commitment: to unseat the best or remain the best, worldwide." This article forms part of the authors' 1994-bestseller 'Competing for the Future', which I also highly recommend. The authors use business US-English.
on September 3, 2012
Although it was written more than 20 years ago, this work by Hamel and Prahalad is still quite relevant today. Many of the examples used by the authors (Toyota, Caterpillar/Komatsu, Honda's entry into the US motorcycle market) are classic case studies used by strategy professors to illustrate key concepts of global strategy. Through these examples, the authors demonstrate that strategy is not nearly as formulaic as some business schools and corporations would have us believe.
I found this to be an excellent supplement to strategy readings and texts assigned at school - it really clarified a few concepts for me and helped me understand that some strategic management ideas that exist in corporate America are based largely on fallacy. This should be mandatory reading for all b-school students, as well as middle and senior managers at firms in all industries.
on June 14, 2010
This article is one of two articles by these authors to receive the McKinsey Award for best article of the year in Harvard Business Review. The other is "The Core Competence of the Corporation", in which Prahalad and Hamel "invented" the idea of organizational competencies as core features of strategic planning and action. These two article have played starring roles in shaping corporate strategy thinking since their appearance in the Harvard Business Review in the early 1980s. I still my original issues. Well written, deeply original. A bargain. Amazon should list C. K. Prahalad as the co-author - a serious omission.