New sources of competitive advantage?

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BCG suggests strategy too often assumes we can get sustained advantage in stable markets vs. few, known competitors by choosing good positions and building key capabilities. (Seems to have worked fine for Toyota, IKEA, Amazon etc.) Like others they suggest turbulent times make other sources of advantage important. 

Some of these are dead right – the need to develop a system amongst related companies in some cases, and simulating strategy in most cases, for example. But beware one of them – ‘adaptive’ advantage enables you to “unite reflection with execution, and balance deduction with experimentation”. I think they mean you should work out as best you can what might work, but recognise the limits to that effort, so be prepared to try something, then build on it if it works and get out if not – which is reasonable enough if not over-done. Unfortunately the case they cite to demonstrate this – Virgin Group – has a poor track record of strategic success (anyone remember Virgin Cola?), and was taken private many years ago by its eponymous hero Richard Branson because it could never deliver good results for shareholders.

But at least the article doesn’t go the extra mile and suggest you should forget about picking a good position and building capabilities.

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