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Rita McGrath – SEEING AROUND CORNERS : How To Spot Inflection Points In Business Before They Happen

SEEING AROUND CORNERS : How To Spot Inflection Points In Business Before They Happen

Rita McGrath



Remarks Free Cover-Pages Wrapping
ISBN 9780358237075
Book Condition LIGHTLY USED
Publisher Mariner Books (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Publication Date 03 Sep 2019
Pages 259
Weight 0.43 kg
Dimension 23 × 15.3 × 2 cm
Availability: 1 in stock

Additional information

1 in stock

  • Detail Description



Featuring a foreword by Clayton Christensen + Achieving Strategic Agility By Seeing Around Corners
Seeing Around Corners is the first hands-on guide to anticipating, understanding, and capitalizing on the inflection points shaping the marketplace. The first prescriptive, innovative guide to seeing inflection points before they happen—and how to harness these disruptive influences to give your company a strategic advantage.
In this book, McGrath explores the concept of inflection points, which are pivotal moments when the fundamental assumptions and dynamics of a business or industry undergo significant change. She provides insights and strategies on how individuals and organizations can anticipate and navigate these inflection points to stay ahead of the curve.
A strategic inflection point is a change in the environment that shifts the very fundamentals of business. Inflection points can be caused by factors like technological change, regulation, and demographic change. They destroy existing businesses and outdated technologies while creating vast new entrepreneurial opportunities. While inflections may appear sudden, they have been gestating for a while.
Paradigmatic shifts in the business landscape, known as inflection points, can either create new, entrepreneurial opportunities (see Amazon and Netflix) or they can lead to devastating consequences (e.g., Blockbuster and Toys R Us). Only those leaders who can “see around corners”–that is, spot the disruptive inflection points developing before they hit–are poised to succeed in this market.
Though seemingly sudden, inflection points are not random nor unexpected. Every “overnight” shift is actually the final stage of a process that has been subtly building over time. Armed with the right strategies and tools, smart business leaders can learn to spot inflection points before they hit—and use them to gain a competitive advantage.
What does it actually mean to see around corners? Rita says it’s not about predicting the future, because predictions are hard, but it is about paying attention to signals. She says, “it’s more about expanding your range of possibilities that you’re considering, and then really being prepared to challenge your own assumptions.

Here are some key themes covered in “Seeing Around Corners”:

1 ◆ Inflection Points: McGrath delves into the concept of inflection points and why they are critical for businesses to understand. She explains how seemingly small changes can lead to large disruptions and shape the future of industries.

2 ◆ Signaling and Shaping: The book explores ways to identify signals and patterns that can indicate potential inflection points. It offers methods to interpret these signals and how to proactively shape future outcomes.

3 ◆ Anticipation and Agility: McGrath emphasizes the importance of anticipating and preparing for inflection points rather than reacting to them after the fact. She provides practical strategies and frameworks for developing the agility required to adapt and seize new opportunities.

4 ◆ Organizational Resilience: The book discusses how businesses can build resilience by embracing experimentation, fostering a culture of learning, and creating flexible structures that enable adaptation in the face of uncertainty.

5 ◆ Case Studies and Examples: McGrath supports her concepts and strategies with real-world case studies and examples from various industries, demonstrating how organizations have successfully navigated inflection points or faced challenges when they failed to do so.
And author think that’s really where the seeing around corners part is so valuable, because if you think about it, any business grows up with a set of assumptions about what’s possible and what’s not. And what an inflection point does is it really changes the nature of those assumptions.”
Companies have to be able to pay attention to possible disruptions that could affect the way they do business. But what tends to happen is companies get comfortable doing the same thing and they think as long as it is working now, it will continue to work in the future. Companies such as Blockbuster and Toys R Us didn’t pay attention to signals all around that would have allowed them to adapt with the times and because they failed to pay attention they are no longer around.
Rita McGrath contends that inflection points, though they may seem sudden, are not random. Every seemingly overnight shift is the final stage of a process that has been subtly building for some time. Armed with the right strategies and tools, smart businesses can see these inflection points coming and use them to gain a competitive advantage.
Rita explains that the way to keep a lookout for inflection points is to think of a disaster scenario that would have a huge impact on your company and then work backwards from that “time zero event” to see if it has merit. For example, for someone working at a business school an example of a scenario would be students lose interest and employers don’t really care about business degrees. So the time zero event could be 50% of all existing business programs shut down, working backwards what would have to happen for that to take place?
And by looking at all the evidence you can figure out either this is not a likely scenario at all so just forget about it, or it is a very real possibility so what can I do to shift my strategy. Snow melts from the edges. The changes that are going to fundamentally influence the future of your business are brewing on the periphery. To avoid being taken by surprise by an inflection point, you need to be exposed to what is happening at the edges.
Eight practices can help you make sure you are seeing what is going on along the edges:
1. Ensure direct connection between the people at the edges of your company and the people making strategy.
2. Go out of your way to include diverse perspectives in thinking about the implications of the future.
3. Use deliberate decision-making processes for consequential and irreversible decisions. Use small, agile, empowered teams for reversible experimental decisions.
4. Foster little bets that are rich in learning, ideally distributed across the organization.
5. Pursue direct contact with the environment—“get out of the building.”
6. Make sure your people are incentivized to hear about reality, not the reverse.
7. Realize when your people are in denial.
8. Expose yourself and your organization to where the future is unfolding today.
You do not need to be a CEO to see how an inflection is likely to unfold. In fact, you are probably more likely to see it the closer you are to the external trends that make your business possible. An inflection point happens when a 10X change alters the basic assumptions upon which a business is built. Because these are taken for granted, it is often hard for executives working in the here and now to see the implications of change.
In the early stages of an inflection point, it is difficult to see the potential impact because the possible solutions are invariably incomplete—the change affects only certain parts of the system. The big mistake is to make a huge investment at this point. There are three kinds of indicators in any business:
1. Lagging indicators provide information about what has already happened and cannot be changed.
2. Current indicators provide information about what is going on, based on assumptions about how the business currently operates (which can create blind spots).
3. Leading indicators are the most critical for spotting impending inflection points, but they are the most difficult to make sense of—they are often qualitative and emergent.
The quality of the information you have to work with is inversely proportional to your ability to do anything to change the story. A way of increasing your decision-making confidence is to create a time zero event that represents something important that might happen in the future. Then you can work backward in time to see what could anticipate this kind of event.
It isn’t enough to see an inflection point coming. Many people in the organization need to align around a common point of view in order to respond effectively. Internal friction and competition can undermine even a correct response to changing times. Managing politics is a key task for any would-be change agent.
Sometimes companies are their own worst enemy when it comes to the big changes an inflection point brings. Bringing a growth mindset, rather than a fixed one, to the problem of detecting and responding to inflection points is crucial. Empowering individuals to take action broadens the amount of experimentation an organization can undertake, increasing its odds of seeing the early warnings of an inflection point in a timely way.
If you want experimentation, people who try things that don’t work out need to know that they will be supported. Building leading indicators into your organization’s incentives ensures that people will pay attention to them and increases the likelihood that they will be acted upon.
Simply seeing an inflection point on the horizon is the first step toward successfully navigating it. You next need to decide what direction (LEADERSHIP) you will take and then mobilize the organization. Invest the time in keeping key executives on the same page and working together—a lack of alignment will diffuse your efforts. It isn’t so much about the individuals’ talents as about how they work together.
● Clarity about strategy, the “why” of what you are doing and key priorities, is not optional.
● Absent candid feedback, it is very easy to get off track. You don’t have time to waste on anything other than total candor and brutal truth.
● Push decisions as close to the edge as possible.
● Simplify complexity—create a common rallying cry that resonates with everybody.
● As a leader, you may increasingly need to be prepared to act in wartime
Seeing around corners applies not just to organizations but to our own lives as well. Recognizing inflection points early can lead to positive career outcomes. Identifying changes in arenas that you work in can open up new pathways and preempt new risks. Ultimately, it helps you anticipate inflection points and thrive when others are caught off guard.
“Seeing Around Corners” provides a valuable framework for business leaders, strategists, and entrepreneurs to anticipate and respond effectively to the rapidly changing business landscape. It offers insights into identifying emerging trends, understanding customer behavior, and staying ahead in an increasingly volatile and uncertain world.
About the Author :
RITA McGRATH is a globally recognized expert on strategy, innovation, and growth with an emphasis on corporate entrepreneurship. A long-time member of the Columbia Business School faculty, she is recognized consistently as one of the top 10 management thinkers by Thinkers50 and She was also recently ranked #5 on the Thinkers50 list for her work in strategy, innovation, and entrepreneurship and for being a champion of harnessing disruptive influences for competitive advantage.
She is a highly sought-after speaker at corporate events such as the Yale CEO Summit, the Innosight CEO Summit and at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos. McGrath has also been inducted into the Strategic Management Society “Fellows” in recognition of her impact on the field. McGrath is often cited in the press, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Financial Times, and NPR’s Marketplace. She has been rated one of the 25 smartest women to follow on Twitter by Fast Company and consistently appears in the rankings of the top business school professors to follow on Twitter. McGrath writes regularly for Fortune, is a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal, and blogs regularly at
McGrath’s best-selling book The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business was recognized by Strategy+Business as the #1 business book of 2013. She is also a co-author of MarketBusters: 40 Strategic Moves that Drive Exceptional Business Growth (2005) and The Entrepreneurial Mindset (2000). McGrath joined the faculty of Columbia Business School in 1993. She received her Ph.D. from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and has degrees with honors from Barnard College and the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs. She is married and is proud to be the mother of two delightful grownups.

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