Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My new book coming out

Finally,
after two years of work with two ex-Procter & Gamble colleagues, my first book appears:

In the words of Maurice Levy, Chairman of the Publicis Groupe, "A must-read for all marketing and advertising people. Particularly in these challenging times."

Get your copy today!

We just issued this press release:
“The Impossible Advantage” is a new book about business strategy which could not be hitting the shelves at a more appropriate time. Today’s unprecedented global financial and economic crisis in fact offers extraordinary opportunities to those who understand how to employ unconventional, breakthrough thinking in order to generate exceptional growth in the face of the most daunting of obstacles.
An ancient Chinese proverb says that when the winds of change blow, there are those who build walls and those who build windmills. How companies can turn the “headwinds” of today’s financial crisis to their own advantage is the subject of a new book from international business consultants Andreas Buchholz, Wolfram Wördemann and Ned Wiley entitled “The Impossible Advantage – Winning the Competitive Game by Changing the Rules” which will be published by John Wiley & Sons on January 16.
“Uncertain or even overtly critical market conditions sometimes offer the best opportunities to uproot conventional rules of the game and to put in place dynamic new power relationships,” argues Wolfram Wördemann, co-author, founder and manager of the management consultancy Buchholz-Wördemann Partners outside of Frankfurt am Main. While the market declines overall during periods of crisis, the authors observe that at the same time customers tend to “speed-change” their attitudes, values, and preferences in a dramatic fashion, something unthinkable during good years. This can create unique opportunities for those players who act quickly to acquire a previously “impossible advantage” over their competitors.
During the current US mega-SUV crisis, for instance, Japanese manufacturers like Toyota and Honda exploited the sector’s collapse to overthrow the hegemony of US manufacturers and vault their more economic “wannabe” SUV – ennobled and celebrated as the new Crossover generation – to “impossible” heights. “Crises can turn hopeless losers into lasting winners”, the authors say. Now would be an ideal time for managers and entrepreneurs to go back to the drawing board and determine how to create an “impossible” competitive advantage – delivered by crisis – able to work for their own products, services, and brands.
“Nothing better demonstrates the weaknesses of accepted wisdom than a full-blown crisis such as that which is currently unfolding,” says Wiley, who runs a new media operation for the Axel Springer publishing group. “When the strategies of the so-called Big Players are shattered and strewn, chances arise for new entrants or smaller participants to fundamentally change the rules of the game.”
The authors distinguish four success strategies that companies can employ during a crisis or recession to dethrone old market leaders and achieve a breakthrough. What is particularly exciting is to witness how even small or medium-sized firms are able to take control of their markets and to force larger competitors to play the Game by totally new rules.
Buchholz, Wördemann and Wiley say that their new volume constitutes a first “guidebook” to help individual companies intervene in the rules of the game in their markets, especially in these difficult times. By challenging those previously accepted rules, they are able to acquire a truly “Impossible Advantage” over previously dominant competitors. The new approach makes use of Game Strategy, which is a novel way of thinking, analytical tool and strategic instrument, all in one. Game Strategy starts where traditional competitive strategies leave off, especially those that are based on the classic models of Positioning, Differentiation and Unique Selling Propositions. “Conventional thinking accepts the marketplace rules as part of the untouchable general conditions,” according to the authors, “but for those who know how to intervene in those rules, they can become the most powerful levers of all for growth and success in the marketplace.” And there is no more perfect time to start than in the midst of such turbulent market environments.
Buchholz, Wördemann and Wiley have been active participants for decades in the development of growth strategies for national and international brands, sectors and companies. “Almost anyone can achieve a turnaround in their market or unleash a revolution,” says Wördemann. To this end, the authors have developed four distinct Game Strategies that every firm can use to acquire more influence and control, and gain the upper hand in the competition. Even when they are not currently among the market leaders, quality leaders, innovation or price leaders. By working with Game Strategy, you don’t necessarily need a spectacular product innovation, huge budgets or the power of as multinational concern. As Wiley concludes, “Marketplace revolutions don’t always take place inside research and development labs, but sometimes around the conference tables of the best strategists.”

1 comment:

Clayton said...

(1) Foley and Lardner and the veritable revolution in the US legal profession following WWII. When I graduated from UC Law School in 1952, neophyte lawyers were still being treated as poorly paid apprentices by most metropolitan law firms. Even graduates with outstanding records cl from the major law schools were being offered starting salaries of $300 per month [the only exceptions were New York City, infamous for consigning new grads to a carel in their law libraries, and Washington, DC, where a few firms offered $400 per month]. Surprisingly, alone among the large firms at the time, only Leon Foley and Lynford Lardner seemed aware of the sea change following WWII which converted the market for young legal talent into a "seller's" market; those two prescient individuals caused their firm [then known as Miller, Mack & Fairchild] to commence (c. 1947) offering new graduates not only the highest starting salary in the US, but also full recognition as new professionals, e.g., a separate office and secretary, name on the letterhead etc. As a consequence, the firm was able to hire outstanding graduates of the major law schools and vaulted its practice into national prominence. It seems remarkable that the firm was able to maintain its hiring advantage for at least a dozen years--a tribute to the slow recognition of the changing profession among its prominent practitioners. You are, of course, aware of the contrast with the current treatment of new law school grads.

{2) Intellectual property practice in US metropolitan firms: For several decades following the end of WWII most major metropolitan law firms did not offer IP, a practice confined to boutique firms dominated by engineer-lawyers. Early in my own business practice it became evident to me that intellectual properties constituted critical but frequently discounted or overlooked assets of many US business firms--not reflected in their accounting balance sheets. Much of my international business practice involved licensing IP to businesses in Japan and Germany. Nevertheless, it took me nearly 20 years to persuade my managing partners to adopt an IP practice; I was repeatedly met with the objection that other major firms did not engage in IP; other objections were potential conflicts of representation problems and even difficulties in reconciling "cultural" differences among typical IP practitioners and business lawyers. Finally, in 1983 I was authorized to hire a fully qualified patent partner and F&L became the first full practice US metropolitan law firm to offer IP. This has become a significant part of F&L's practice with over 200 lawyers currently engaged in IP. Many other large firms have since followed our lead.