Would you like to be invited to any of my upcoming book tour events? Let me know!
May 20: Offiical Book launch event! Invitation-only (I can probably wangle an invite, but let me know soon if you are interested - it will be a high profile event at the Parker Meridien featuring senior leaders from companies featured in the new book
May 28: Book signing at alumni-owned WORDS bookstore in Maplewood, New Jersey - 7pm
June 1: Alumni event in London
June 3: HBR sponsored reception in London
June 4: Google author event in London (lunchtime)
June 4: Benchmark for Business reception in London
June 11-12: Visit to Helsinki
June 18: Birmingham, Alabama
June 19: Jacksonville, Florida
June 20: Denver, CO
June 21: Phoenix, AZ
June 22: Carlsberg, CA
June 26: Houston, TX
June 27: Dallas/Fort Worth
It's going to be quite a month!
- Posted Rita McGrath on April 13, 2013
In my soon-to-be-published book The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business, (to be published June 4th) I argue that many of the strategic and management processes we inherited from a more stable strategic time simply don't work as environments become more volatile and uncertain. What I'm starting to look at now is how other institutions, beyond business, have made the assumption that businesses will be around for long periods of time and therefore are to be relied upon to tackle certain societal tasks. As advantages become short and companies struggle to cope, they are renegotiating many of these tasks in ways that I'm not sure we are paying enough attention to.
Take young people's careers. It used to be that companies hiring recent college grads would recognize that they don't have experience and invest in them. They would get training, development experiences and some mentoring. The logic behind this was that the company could benefit for the long term from having an increasingly skilled (and perhaps even loyal) workforce. Today, of course, loyalty is a thing of the past, a victim of relentless downsizing and cutbacks, which are themselves a consequence of the heightened pace of competition. As a result, the benefit to any particular company of providing a lot of training and coaching appears to have dropped.
So what's happening? I see it with our children and their friends. Basically companies are expecting them to finance the creation of valuable skills and gain experience before any organization will make a commitment to them. Endless internships, one after the other. "Volunteer" assignments just to get a letter of recommendation or exposure to someone who might - someday - be in a position to offer a position. Working in an administrative or clerical capacity just to get one's foot in the door. And young people doing jobs that employers claim require 5-7 years of experience without being considered for the positions themselves.
It's an unintended, if predictable consequence of employers trying to maintain as much flexibility as they can and hedge as much risk as possible. But it makes it awfully hard on those first job seekers in an already down economy.
So what do you think some solutions could be? I'd be very intereted in your ideas as I start my next round of research.
- Posted Rita McGrath on March 29, 2013
A while back, I was in London and took some time to catch up with the folks behind the Thinkers50 management awards. We did a wide-ranging video in which we talk about the nature of competition today and what that means for the field of strategy. I'll be in London again for the launch of my new book The End of Competitive Advantage which comes out on June 4, 2013. We're planning on doing another interview to dive even more deeply into some of the issues that are getting so many remarkable companies in trouble today.
- Posted Rita McGrath on March 26, 2013
I was recently asked by a reporter whether bachelor's degrees are "worthless". I don't think they're worthless, but in many ways they have become a victim of their own success.
In my view, employers are listing the requirement of a bachelor’s degree for even entry-level positions because it is symbolic of other things. It means someone worked hard enough and made the effort to complete a degree, which is a proxy for being able to take on challenges and finish them. While for many jobs, a high school degree should be enough, the population that lacks a bachelor’s degree is proportionately likely to consist of more people who aren’t able, for whatever reason, to take on big challenges and finish them. So, unfortunately for many people who despite no fault of their own don’t get a degree, it becomes a signal to the employer.
By limiting openings to people with degrees, employers basically save themselves time weeding through potential candidates.
The other thing that I would observe is that as more and more people have college degrees, the degree itself has become commoditized. Having a bachelor’s used to be more rare, and candidates with the degree could therefore be more choosy and were more expensive to hire (in other words, expected to be paid more). Today, that is no longer the case. I think all this is one of the unintended consequences of the massive expansion of bachelors degrees. From 2002-2012, the number of degrees awarded increased by 25%. Interestingly, there has been even stronger growth in masters and PhD degrees during that period, all of which is indicative of a kind of degree arms-race.
It will be interesting to speculate on how these two forces will collide. On the one hand, you have the increasing availability and quality of on-line, skill based programs which anybody can tap into. On the other hand, you have all these institutionalized practices that embed degree programs into hiring decisions and the way we structure access to opportunity in our economy.
- Posted Rita McGrath on March 15, 2013
Far-ranging interview with the Thinkers 50 team can be viewed here. We talk about the state of strategy, how hard it is to grow, lessons from the growth outliers and the whole idea of transient advantage. The growth outliers include Factset, Atmos Energy, Infosys, Cognizant, ACS, Indra Sistemas, Yahoo! Japan, Tsingtao beer, KrKa Pharmaceuticals and HDFC Bank. The magic in the combination of stability and dynamism. We also talked a lot about strategic disengagement.
- Posted Rita McGrath on February 22, 2013
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