Harvard Business Review Press
May 2, 2005
In the face of mounting competitive pressures, executives have significantly reduced costs, improved efficiencies, and strengthened their companies’ core business. Yet firms continue to destroy value for shareholders and lose ground to competitors.
Renowned business thinkers John Hagel III and John Seely Brown argue that as growth opportunities migrate to the edges of companies, industries, and the global economy, traditional strategies are less effective. In The Only Sustainable Edge, the authors describe a dynamic new source of competitive advantage – accelerated capability building – that forces managers to discard their myopic focus on existing resources and fundamentally rethink strategy development and the nature of the firm.
Hagel and Brown describe the migration path companies will pursue to build a sustainable edge: deepen distinctive internal capabilities (dynamic specialization; mobilize the resources of other specialized companies (connectivity and coordination); and accelerate learning across broad networks of enterprises (productive friction).
Using examples of diverse companies already undergoing this transformation, The Only Sustainable Edge outlines specific actions executives must undertake now to position their organizations for the future. The authors guide executives and learning how to:
- Harness new approaches to capability building emerging in China and India
- Use outsourcing to improve distinctive capabilities and shed nonessential activities
- Determine where to focus offshoring activities to access the best talent
- Leverage the specialized capabilities of complementary firms globally
- Utilize new generations of technology to support capability building
The race for market leadership is on, and the bounty will go to those who leverage accelerated capability building to get better faster than competitors. The Only Sustainable Edge is a must-read for business executives, policymakers, educators, and anyone who needs to understand the forces reshaping our world in the twenty-first century.
John Hagel III is a business strategist and former McKinsey & Company consultant who has advised senior executives around the world for twenty-five years (www.johnhagel.com).
John Seely Brown is the former Chief Scientist of Xerox Corporation and served as Director of the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center for twelve years (www.johnseelybrown.com).