The Strategy Paradox
Why committing to success leads to failure ... and what to do about it
A compelling vision. Bold leadership. Decisive action. Unfortunately, these prerequisites of success are almost always the ingredients of failure, too. In fact, most managers seeking to maximize their chances for glory are often unwittingly setting themselves up for ruin. The sad truth is that most companies have left their futures almost entirely to chance, and don't even realize it. The reason? Managers feel they must make choices with far-reaching consequences today, but must base those choices on assumptions about a future they cannot predict. It is this collision between commitment and uncertainty that creates The Strategy Paradox.
“This is one of the most important, realistic and useful books on strategy ever written. With consummate clarity and withering logic, Raynor confronts and resolves the paradox that while strategy requires commitment, much about the future is simply unknowable. It is an absolutely brilliant, lucidly written piece of scholarship.”
— Clayton M. Christensen, Professor, Harvard Business School; Author, The Innovator’s Dilemma and The Innovator’s Solution
This paradox sets up a ubiquitous but little-understood tradeoff. Management orthodoxy demands that strategies be built on commitments, which leaves no alternative to basing today's decisions on assumptions about an unknowable future. The more ambitious among us hope our guesses will be right — or that we can somehow adapt to the inevitably changing seas. In fact, only a small number of lucky daredevils prosper, while many more unfortunate, but no less capable managers find themselves at the helms of sinking ships. Realizing this, even if only intuitively, most of us shy away from the bold commitments that success seems to demand, choosing instead timid, unremarkable strategies, sacrificing any chance at greatness for a better chance at mere survival.
Michael E. Raynor, coauthor of the bestselling The Innovator's Solution, explains how leaders can break this tradeoff and achieve results historically reserved for the fortunate few even as they reduce the risks they must accept in the pursuit of success. In the cutthroat world of competitive strategy, this is as close as you can come to getting something for nothing.