In this McKinsey Award-winning article, first published in May 1989, Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad explain that Western companies have wasted too much time and energy replicating the cost and quality advantages their global competitors already experience. Canon and other world-class competitors have taken a different approach to strategy: one of strategic intent. They begin with a goal that exceeds the company's present grasp and existing resources: "Beat Xerox"; "encircle Caterpillar." Then they rally the organization to close the gap by setting challenges that focus employees' efforts in the near to medium term: "Build a personal copier to sell for $1,000"; "cut product development timeby 75%." Year after year, they emphasize competitive innovation building a portfolio of competitive advantages; searching markets for "loosebricks" that rivals have left under defended; changing the terms of competitive engagement to avoid playing by the leader's rules. The result is a global leadership position and an approach to competition that has reduced larger, stronger Western rivals to playing an endless game of catch-up.
Fortune magazine labels Gary Hamel "the world's leading expert on business strategy." The Economist calls Hamel "the world's reigning strategy guru." Hamel's landmark books, Leading the Revolution and Competing for the Future, have appeared on every management bestseller list and have been translated into more than 20 languages. C.K. Prahalad is the Paul and Ruth McCracken Distinguished University Professor of Corporate Strategy at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. He has consulted with the top management of many of the world's foremost companies, including CEOs of at least thetop 30 of the Fortune 200 firms.