Management thinking has gone soft, with its emphasis on squishy things like corporate culture and the coddling of customers. They single-mindedly pursue competitive advantage and the benefits it offers: a leading market share, great margins, and rapid growth. They pick their shots, seek out competitive encounters, set the pace of innovation, and test the edges of the possible. Instead of running—not scared, but smart—softball players seem almost to be standing around and watching. That approach may reflect the recent focus of management science, which itself has gone soft.
|Published (Last):||19 October 2016|
|PDF File Size:||11.58 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||9.19 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
Management thinking has gone soft, with its emphasis on squishy things like corporate culture and the coddling of customers. They single-mindedly pursue competitive advantage and the benefits it offers: a leading market share, great margins, and rapid growth.
They pick their shots, seek out competitive encounters, set the pace of innovation, and test the edges of the possible. Instead of running—not scared, but smart—softball players seem almost to be standing around and watching. That approach may reflect the recent focus of management science, which itself has gone soft.
Indeed, the discourse around soft issues such as leadership, corporate culture, knowledge management, talent management, and employee empowerment has encouraged the making of softball players.
While there are countless ways to play hardball, a handful of classic strategies are effective in generating competitive advantage. Do you have what it takes to play hardball? Does your company have the strategic backbone to dominate its markets? If not, hardball players may overtake you. Hardball players play to win. They focus relentlessly on their competitive advantage, as Wal-Mart does by constantly honing its innovative distribution and inventory-management systems.
They attack indirectly, as Southwest Airlines does with its strategy of bypassing major airports. Leading market share, great margins, rapid growth—and the pleasure of watching their competitors squirm.
Use these hardball strategies to shift your competitive position, consolidate gains, and prepare your next attack. SweepCo got the message and backed off. In the s, Toyota copied just-in-time manufacturing techniques from Ford, ultimately beating Nissan and later becoming a major presence in the U. When Wausau Paper decided to carve out a high-margin business by offering distributors next-day service and customized products, it had to lock up customers before competitors caught on.
It concealed its strategy from the trade press and lulled competitors into a false sense of security by quietly abandoning the market for large rolls of paper. Deliver a focused, direct, and swift blow—overhauling your business if necessary.
It boosted quality, cut costs, and hired an army of additional salespeople who staffed supermarkets around the clock and constantly restocked shelves with Frito-Lay products. The assault forced Eagle products out of business. All the while, Toyota has dared its rivals to duplicate a production system that gives the company unmatchable productivity and quality.
Dell is similarly relentless, and ruthless, in dealing with competitors. Last summer, the day after Hewlett-Packard announced weak results because of price competition in PCs, Dell announced a further across-the-board cut—delivering a swift kick to a tough rival when it was down. Wal-Mart is well known for its uncompromising stance toward suppliers.
Newell acquired a struggling Rubbermaid in Hardly anyone would dispute that Toyota, Dell, and Wal-Mart have epitomized corporate success over the past decade. What do we mean by this? Hardball players pursue with a single-minded focus competitive advantage and the benefits it offers—leading market share, great margins, rapid growth, and all the intangibles of being in command.
They pick their shots, seek out competitive encounters, set the pace of innovation, test the edges of the possible. They play to win. And they do. Instead of running smart and hard, they seem almost to be standing around and watching. They play to play. This may reflect the recent emphasis of management science, which itself has gone soft.
Indeed, the discourse around a constellation of squishy issues—leadership, corporate culture, customer care, knowledge management, talent management, employee empowerment, and the like—has encouraged the making of softball players.
Look at the titles of some recent business books. Who Moved My Cheese? Come on, what are you, a man or a mouse? Or Fish! Or Servant Leader. Or Hug Your Customers.
Softball books accounted for probably four out of five of the titles on the business best-seller list in the last ten years—and even more in the past five years. This trend is not good for the people in your organization who read this stuff or are sent to hear the authors speak.
But hardball is not about playing beyond the lines of legality. Enron and WorldCom may have appeared to be hardball competitors, but they in fact used a classic softball tactic: manipulating whether legally or illegally results to make yourself look better.
But they can cause discomfort. In sports, after all, playing hardball means brushing back an aggressive batter with a mile-an-hour pitch. It means bare-knuckle boxing, John L. It means giving someone a head fake in a pickup basketball game on a city court littered with broken glass—and leaving him sitting on his rear.
It cleanses the market. It makes companies strong and vibrant. It results in more affordable products and services, as well as more satisfied customers. It makes competitors sweat. They will posture and pout. Meanwhile, they will let billions of dollars of shareholder wealth drip, drip, drip into oblivion. Hardball players are immune to this sort of thing.
In fact, they have a name for it. They call it whining. Flabby rivals will posture and pout. Hardball players have a name for this. We believe the time has come to rebalance the hard and the soft. Softball players that have survived until now—think of most airlines, the U. Hardball players are taking their places at an unprecedented rate. Companies join and fly off the Fortune list faster than ever before.
In this quicker, tougher world of business, playing hardball is not an option; it is a requirement for winning. Ready to relearn the fundamentals of winning and losing? Start with the Hardball Manifesto. It lays out the keys to becoming an effective hardball player. The history of business is littered with the remains of companies whose competitive advantages, once robust, simply withered away. Hardball players, by contrast, strive to widen the performance gap between themselves and competitors.
Although a lot of companies talk about competitive advantage, few are able to put a finger on exactly what theirs is, and fewer still can quantify it. Hardball players know—empirically—what theirs is and exploit it ruthlessly. Companies that relentlessly pursue competitive advantage are wonders to behold. Goods from suppliers were accepted only in full truckload quantities. They were then moved across the dock and loaded onto other trucks that later departed fully loaded with a variety of goods going to stores.
Supercomputers were installed to track and analyze consumer purchases, competitor prices, and other information. Satellites beamed the data from stores to suppliers and on to warehouses, helping to keep inbound and outbound trucks full and shelves stocked. Suppliers were told exactly when to deliver shipments to warehouses; if they missed the window, their shipments might be returned until the next window opened—or rejected altogether.
Wal-Mart also used sales and inventory data to tell companies like Rubbermaid which products it would carry—no matter what the companies thought was the appropriate merchandising of their lines. Wal-Mart continues to tighten the bolts on this system, so far without any signs of shearing. It is, in effect, extreme competitive advantage, which is the ultimate endgame. Unlike plain old competitive advantage, which can be fleeting, this is something that puts you out of the reach of your competitors.
Often, the hardball competitor has an economic system that is unassailable. Or a relationship with a customer or a supplier that is not available to its competitors. Or capabilities such as fast product development or superior customer knowledge that others cannot replicate. The system lets Toyota produce, at both high and low volumes, a great variety of high-quality vehicles at very low cost. Toyota is so confident that its system cannot be replicated that it has welcomed competitors into its factories.
The rewards to Toyota have been spectacular. Does anyone want to bet against it? Perhaps paradoxically, hardball players avoid direct confrontation.
Even if they have the strength, they prefer the economies of force inherent in the indirect attack. Southwest chose not to attack the major airlines on their well-defended turf. Instead, it opened operations in small, out-of-the-way airports. Not surprisingly, there were no bloody battles with the major airlines for control of these locations.
Once Southwest was established in the smaller airports, the major carriers faced a dilemma. Should they compete directly with Southwest in smaller airports where Southwest had built a competitive advantage? Or should they create their own non-hub-based airlines to compete with Southwest?
Hardball. Five killer strategies for trouncing the competition.
Posted by: Kim Warren. I am reminded of what may be one of the most dangerous articles on competitive strategy I ever read. Now the article is correct to highlight the competitive strength and commitment of powerful firms like Toyota, Wal-Mart, and Dell. But to reduce their highly sophisticated strategic management to a fatuous list of bullet points is an insult to these mighty industry leaders. Worse still is the danger that lesser organisations will take these headlines and try to implement them with the minimal information and resources more usually available.
Hardball: Five Killer Strategies for Trouncing the Competition
Below are the available bulk discount rates for each individual item when you purchase a certain amount. Publication Date: April 01, The winners in business play hardball, and they don't apologize for it. They single-mindedly pursue competitive advantage and the benefits it offers: a leading market share, great margins, and rapid growth. They pick their shots, seek out competitive encounters, set the pace of innovation, and test the edges of the possible. Softball players, by contrast, may look good, but they aren't intensely serious about winning. They don't accept that you must sometimes hurt your rivals, and risk being hurt, to get what you want.
Five Killer Strategies for Trouncing the Competition
Keep abreast of significant corporate, financial and political developments around the world. Stay informed and spot emerging risks and opportunities with independent global reporting, expert commentary and analysis you can trust. New customers only Cancel anytime during your trial. Sign in.
The Hardball Manifesto: Play to Win
Pulchowk Campus, Nepal. Hardball Management thinking has gone soft, with its emphasis on squishy things like corporate culture and the coddling of customers. We will the playbook for a dog-eat-dog world. Winner in business play rough and dont apologize for it. The Hardball Manifesto Focus relentlessly on competitive advantage.