Ignore the glitzy title and concentrate on the solid material which is provided. As the subtitle of this volume correctly indicates, McGrath and MacMillan identify and then explain “40 strategic moves that drive exceptional business growth.” Decision-makers in many organizations still do not understand that strategies resemble hammers in that they “drive” tactics which are comparable with nails. Of course, both strategies and tactics must be selected with meticulous care, then implemented effectively. The core of this book involves five strategies to create “marketbusters”: Transform the customers’ experience, transform your offerings, redefine profit drivers, exploit industry shifts, and consider entering (for you) new markets. No news there. The value of this book is derived from McGrath and MacMillan’s explanations of (a) HOW to select the strategies which are most appropriate to your organization’s current and imminent needs and (b) WHAT to do when coordinating those strategies with tactics (or “moves”) during the implementation process.
To assist that process, they provide “Preparing Yourself: Audit Your Strategy and Clarify Your Process,” a self-dianostic which poses most (if not all) of the key questions to be answered and most (if not all) of the key issues to be addressed. Of special interest to me is the provision, also, of a set of “Action Steps” at the conclusion of each chapter. With regard to the “40 Moves,” they are organized as follows, accompanied by specific examples: Numbers 1-5 which involve changing the consumption chain (pages 25-39), Numbers 6-12 which various companies have used to shift the attribute maps for their offerings and create marketbusters (pages 54-76, Numbers 13-20 which suggest potential alternatives to a current unit of business (pages 92-113), Numbers 21-32 which can help to structure (or restructure) consideration of possible industrywide shifts (pages 119-148), and Numbers 33-40 which can assist the formulation of a typology of potential opportunity types and an understanding of what achieving success with each may require (pages 156-179).
McGrath and MacMillan then provide a “MarketBuster Case Study” of Royal Insurance Italy in which they demonstrate at least some of the potentialities of the cohesive and comprehensive process previously discussed, followed by an Appendix in which all 40 “Moves” are briefly but thoughtfully reiterated. I strongly recommend to those who read this book that they re-read the Appendix at least monthly so as to be prepared to recognize whichever new growth options and opportunities may emerge since first reading this book.
When concluding this brief commentary, I presume to offer a few caveats. First, beware of what Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton characterize as “The Knowing-Doing Gap” in the book which bears that title. More often than not, decision-makers fail to convert knowledge into action to achieve the desired results. In this context, I am reminded of Coach Darrell Royal’s assertion that “potential” means “you ain’t done it yet.” Also, expect to encounter substantial resistance to change initiatives. For example, what Jim O’Toole characterizes in his book, Leading Change, as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.” Moreover, once you have selected the most appropriate strategies, you must obtain buy-in and then maintain a steadfast commitment to them but be prepared to change tactics. Hence the importance of having an early-warning system as you rigorously measure organizational and individual performance. Finally, have a contingency plan in place so that you can respond immediately and effectively whenever new or revised tactics are required