Strategic Intent Essay

7080 Words Aug 12th, 2011 29 Pages
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THE HIGH-PERFORMANCE ORGANIZATION

1989
Sixteen years ago, when Cary Hamel, then a lecturer at London Business Sehooi, and C.K. Prahalad, a University of Michigan professor, wrote "Strategic lntent,"the article signaled that a major new force had arrived in management. Hamei and Prahalad argue that Western companies focus on trimming their ambitions to match resources and, as a result, search only for advantages they can sustain. By contrast, Japanese corporations leverage resources by accelerating the pace of organizational learning and try to attain seemingly impossible goals. These firms foster the desire to succeed among their employees and maintain it by spreading the vision of global leadership. This is how Canon sought to
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Too many companies are expending enormous energy simply to reproduce the cost and quality advantages their

global competitors already enjoy. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it will not lead to competitive revitalization. Strategies based on imitation are transparent to competitors who have already mastered them. Moreover, successful competitors rarely stand still. So it is not surprising that many executives feel trapped in a seemingly endless game of catch-up, regularly surprised by the new accomplishments of their rivals. For these executives and their companies, regaining competitiveness will mean rethinking many ofthe basic concepts of strategy.' As "strategy" has blossomed, the competitiveness of Western companies has withered. This may be coincidence, but we think not. We
HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW

148

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THE HIGH-PERFORMANCE ORGANIZATION In this respect, traditional competitor analysis is like a snapshot of a moving car. By itself, the photograph yields little information about the car's speed or direction-whether the driver is out for a quiet Sunday drive or warming up for the Grand Prix. Yet many managers have leamed through painful experience that a business's initial resource endowment (whether bountiful or meager) is an unreliable predictor of future global success. Think back: In 1970, few Japanese companies possessed the resource base, see the tactics whereby I conquer," he wrote, "but what none

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