Why Michael Porter and Business Gurus Long In The Tooth Fail – Strategy

Sustainable competitive advantage is a theoretical concept created by Porter replete with disastrous consequences under the theoretical assumption that business is a zero sum game.

Business has been bombarded with financially successful academics whose concepts formulated in classrooms then implemented in business had little or no consequence. As an after thought, I can recall working Covey where the worldwide sensation of the “Seven Habit of Successful People” were lauded.

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While many the world over support such values I have never known an organization, not even Covey successfully impellent these ideas created in a classroom.

Managers and consultants are going to have to get their hands dirty understanding what happens on the front lines where work gets done and where customers experience the firm’s products and services.

The market is vast because most large firms are still 20th Century hierarchical bureaucracies that are focused on “the dumbest idea in the world”: shareholder value. They are very weak at innovation.

To prosper, everyone has to become both more creative and more down-to-earth.

Ceremonial rain dances come to be viewed for what they are. The financial crisis of 2008 was a wake-up call that reminded even entrenched firms how vulnerable they were.

The single dominant force in today’s marketplace: the customer.

Organizations entrenched in sustainable competitive advantage will find themselves and their industries disrupted by aggressive innovators who improved products and services rather than fortify barriers against competitors.

The goal of work is to delight clients.

In the past the goal was to produce goods or services, or make money for the shareholders today you have to delight clients and focus the entire organization on this goal. Period. That is sustainable competitive advantage. Not building barriers to competitors. Adding value. Not constructing moats and castles.


Since 1987 we’ve worked Fortune 500 firms, government, non-profits and small business to help them create strategies that both delight customers and employees. We help them reduce costs, increase growth and innovate. Click here to see we can help your firm with an on-site visit.

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Jim Woods is a student and teacher of innovation and competitive strategy, how organizations attain superior performance, and how they constantly reinvent advantages to propel growth in times of stress. Jim is an author and speaker on strategic innovation, hypercompetition and leadership. He has worked with government, U.S. Army, MITRE Corporation, Pitney Bowes, Whirlpool, and 3M.

Click here to hire Jim to speak at your next event.


Jim Woods is president of The Jim Woods Group. A management consulting firm. Go here to see his work www.jimwoodsgroup.com. He advises and speaks to organizations large and small on how to increase top line growth in times of uncertainty and complexity. Some of his speaking and consulting clients include: U.S. Army, MITRE Corporation, Pitney Bowes, Whirlpool, and 3M. See more at his website www.jimwoodsgroup.com.

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