Transient Advantage

Sustainable Competitive Advantage
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Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

Transient Advantage

According to Colombia BS Professor Rita Gunther McGrath, achieving a Sustainable Competitive Advantage (SCA) (establishing a unique competitive position that can be sustained for long periods of time) is nearly impossible these days.
Allthough that idea is not new (see for example this discussion on 12manage: Is Strategic Planning Passé? and compare Real Options and Emergent Strategy), Professor McGrath does introduce an interesting new term: TRANSIENT ADVANTAGE (TA).
TA = Transient Advantage
CA = Competitive Advantage
SCA = Sustainable Competitive Advantage
I looked up the word "transient", it means: brief, temporary, passing, provisional, temporal. Quite the opposite of sustainable if you think about it.
McGrath argues companies need to embrace the notion of TA instead of SCA, "learning to launch new strategic inititiatives again and again, and creating a portfolio of advantages that can be built quickly and abandonded just as rapidly".

What I liked most of this article is the seven dangerous misconceptions, most of which indeed I have witnessed several times over the years:
1. The first-mover trap (The belief that being first to market creates a SCA)
2. The superiority trap (The belief it is impossible to create a better product)
3. The quality trap (The belief that offering the highest quality provides a SCA - it won't because cheap and poor competitors will improve over time)
4. The hostage-resources trap (The habit of allocating most of the resources in a corporation to the big divisions / cash cows)
5. The white space trap (innovation don't fit anywhere in the org chart)
6. The empire-building trap (in many large firms, the top positions and rewards are for those managing the large operations, resulting in hoarding, bureaucracy, and resistance to change)
7. The sporadic-innovation trap (innovation is an on/off process; not a continuous pipeline).

To create an innovation pipeline or portfolio of advantages, companies need to apply eight shifts in the way they operate and think about strategy:
1. Think about arenas, not industries (threats can come from players outside of your industry)
2. Set broad terms and then let people experiment (allow freedom to be creative)
3. Adopt metrics that support entrepreneurship
4. Focus on customer experiences and solutions to real problems
5. Build strong personal relationships and networks
6. Avoid brutal restructuring and learn healthy disengagement
7. Get systematic about early-stage innovation
8. Experiment, iterate, learn.
And most of all: leaders must recognize that fast and roughly right decision making must replace deliberations that are precise but slow.
Source: Transient Advantage: Rita Gunther McGrath in HBR June 2013, p62-70


Purna Chandra
Business Consultant, India

Transient Advantage Sounds like INNOVATION & CHANGE

To sustain CA, an organization has to continually innovate and change. It has to be very agile in de... Sign up

In Ho Kim, Republic Of Korea

New Sights on Profit-seeking

Will CA, SCA, or even TA guarantee a superior performance while an industry evolves into a new one w... Sign up

Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

Adaptive Goodness

@In Ho Kim: Thank your for your reaction, which looks interesting. Could you please elaborate and ex... Sign up

Andrew Blaine
Business Consultant, South Africa

Arenas and Markets

I am inclined to agree with the principle behind the commentary of this topic. However, there are, i... Sign up

Professor, India

TA & Adaptive Goodness

@In Ho Kim: Please let us know what is Adaptive Goodness (AG). AG it seems is a continuous process ... Sign up

In Ho Kim, Republic Of Korea

Adaptive Goodness

@Jaap de Jonge (Editor), @K.V.Narrasimham: In order for us to understand and explain value creation ... Sign up

Vivek Joshi, India

'TA' versus 'Simple Steps'

Some time back early in the last decade I recall reading a paper which said that Strategy by "Simple... Sign up

Indrajit Sethi
Professor, India

SCA should be Left Behind in 20th Century

TA spells a fresh approach! The top leading organizations tend to slacken as they have tendency to ... Sign up

taha2656, Pakistan

Transit Advantage (TA) and SCA

I feel TA and SCA are same as Objectives and Strategies. SCA should give a direction while TA can b... Sign up

Jagdish B Acharya
Consultant, India

TA, SCA etc. Come Much Later

@In Ho Kim: I agree with you. When a firm understands customer requirements better and provides AG, ... Sign up

Andrew Blaine
Business Consultant, South Africa

Recognition of Advantage

@Jagdish B Acharya: I am not sure that I agree with your sequence of events, and would rather sugges... Sign up

In Ho Kim, Republic Of Korea

AG as a Result of Needs-Focused Innovation

@Jagdish B Acharya: Thanks for your understanding of Adaptive Goodness(AG), which can be represented... Sign up

Robinson M. Tenu
Entrepreneur, Cameroon

Transient Advantages = Opportunities to Exploit

Sometimes simple opportunities pop up during business operations that can be exploited. If such oppo... Sign up

In Ho Kim, Republic Of Korea

What Makes a Transient Situation?

When customers' needs change or evolve, a firm's strategy should also be modified. This could range ... Sign up

Anneke Zwart
Student (University), Netherlands

From Sustainable Competitive Advantage to Transient Advantage

In the past decades, basically all businessess’ strategy frameworks have been incorporated with the... Sign up


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