A reading club with a view to the future

375 Rita McGrath: Seeing Around Corners

Embracing a new framework to detect and respond to emerging opportunities and threats in a rapidly changing business environment.



"Seeing Around Corners" by Rita McGrath introduces a fresh perspective on strategic planning and navigating uncertainty in a rapidly changing world. The book presents a framework for detecting early signals of market shifts, disruptive technologies, and emerging competitors. By embracing the principles of inflection point analysis, leaders can identify hidden opportunities and proactively respond to threats. McGrath offers practical guidance on how to build an agile organization, cultivate a culture of experimentation, and leverage strategic foresight to stay ahead of the curve. Through real-world examples and actionable insights, this book empowers leaders to anticipate change, adapt their strategies, and thrive in an unpredictable business landscape.


Title: "Seeing Around Corners"

Author: Rita McGrath

Publishing Year: 2021

Publisher: HMH Adult Audio

Length in Hours: 7 hours and 46 minutes

5 main ideas

  1. Inflection Points: McGrath explores the concept of inflection points, pivotal moments when the existing business landscape shifts dramatically, and traditional strategies become obsolete.
  2. Early Warning Systems: The book emphasizes the importance of developing early warning systems to detect emerging trends, disruptive technologies, and changing customer preferences before they disrupt the market.
  3. Agility and Adaptability: McGrath highlights the need for organizations to be agile and adaptable, fostering a culture of experimentation, continuous learning, and quick decision-making to respond effectively to market shifts.
  4. Strategic Foresight: The book delves into strategic foresight as a crucial capability for leaders to anticipate and prepare for future scenarios, enabling them to make informed decisions and shape their organizations' trajectories.
  5. Dynamic Strategy: McGrath advocates for a dynamic approach to strategy, replacing the traditional static strategic planning with a continuous process of sensing, seizing opportunities, and reconfiguring resources to stay competitive in a changing environment.

5 funny quotes

  1. "Strategic planning is like playing chess in a hurricane. You can't rely on a fixed game plan; you have to make nimble moves and adapt as the winds change."
  2. "Business agility is like doing the limbo dance. You have to be flexible, quick on your feet, and willing to bend backward to avoid getting knocked out by disruption."
  3. "Being ahead of the curve is like riding a roller coaster blindfolded. You have to trust your instincts, brace for unexpected twists and turns, and enjoy the thrill of the ride."
  4. "Spotting emerging trends is like finding hidden treasures in a sea of noise. It takes a keen eye, a curious mind, and a knack for connecting the dots."
  5. "Change is like a dance party. You have to be willing to let go of old dance moves, embrace new rhythms, and show off your best moves on the ever-changing dancefloor of business."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "In a world of constant change, success comes not from predicting the future, but from being prepared for it."
  2. "Innovation is not a one-time event; it's a continuous process of adaptation and evolution."
  3. "The ability to unlearn old assumptions and embrace new possibilities is a critical skill for navigating uncertainty."
  4. "Leaders must be comfortable with ambiguity and have the courage to take calculated risks in order to seize emerging opportunities."
  5. "The biggest risk in a rapidly changing world is sticking with what worked in the past instead of embracing what will work in the future."

5 dilemmas

  1. Balancing Stability and Agility: The book explores the tension between the need for stability in core operations and the imperative to be agile and adaptable in the face of disruption.
  2. Exploiting Existing Markets vs. Exploring New Opportunities: McGrath addresses the dilemma of resource allocation between exploiting existing markets and exploring new growth opportunities, advocating for a balanced approach.
  3. Short-term Success vs. Long-term Resilience: The book delves into the challenge of balancing short-term financial performance with long-term resilience and future-proofing the organization.
  4. Managing Risk vs. Embracing Innovation: McGrath discusses the delicate balance between managing risk and embracing innovation, emphasizing the importance of calculated risk-taking for sustained success.
  5. Internal Alignment vs. External Engagement: The book explores the dilemma of striking the right balance between fostering internal alignment within the organization and engaging external stakeholders to sense and respond to market changes effectively.

5 examples

  1. Apple: The book examines Apple's ability to anticipate consumer trends and disrupt industries through its forward-thinking product innovations, such as the iPhone and iPad.
  2. Netflix: McGrath discusses how Netflix successfully pivoted from a DVD rental service to a streaming platform, demonstrating its agility and ability to spot emerging opportunities in the entertainment industry.
  3. Tesla: The book explores Tesla's disruptive impact on the automotive industry through its focus on electric vehicles and autonomous driving technology, highlighting the importance of staying ahead of the curve.
  4. Airbnb: McGrath analyzes how Airbnb disrupted the hospitality industry by capitalizing on the sharing economy and leveraging emerging digital platforms, showcasing the power of entrepreneurial foresight.
  5. Amazon: The book delves into Amazon's relentless focus on customer-centric innovation, rapid experimentation, and continuous adaptation as key factors behind its dominance in e-commerce and beyond.

Referenced books

  1. "The Innovator's Dilemma" by Clayton M. Christensen
  2. "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman
  3. "The Lean Startup" by Eric Ries
  4. "Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder" by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  5. "The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable" by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Share a quote

"Change is like a dance party. You have to be willing to let go of old dance moves, embrace new rhythms, and show off your best moves on the ever-changing dancefloor of business."

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