When in doubt, move to the meta level

Martin Reeves and his team at the Boston Consulting Group Strategy Institute have been working hard to regain BCG’s position as the world’s foremost strategic thinkers. A tough nut to crack in a time of uncertainty (world economic crisis) and a time of radical transformation (moving from contract to network society).

If strategy is about optimizing choice in situations of strategic interdependence, how do you strategize in and against constantly changing environments? In New Bases of Competitive Advantage, they came up with the concept of adaptive advantage which addresses the challenge by taking strategy to the meta level:

We believe that companies can renew and sharpen their quest for sustainable competitive advantage by pursuing adaptive advantage. Organizations with adaptive advantage recognize the unpredictability of today’s environment and the limits of deductive analysis. They seek to develop the most favorable organizational context in which new approaches to new problems can continually emerge. Adaptive advantage thus enables them to unite reflection with execution and to balance deduction with experimentation.

The meta strategies they outline are: Signal Advantage (detect, capture, and exploit pattern advantage), Systems Advantage (Shape and manage business systems for advantage), People Advantage (leverage human resources beyond the firms boundaries), Social Advantage (leverage new social and ecological expectations for advantage), and Simulation Advantage (simulate for advantage). Read up on their ideas and reflect and discuss what they might mean for your business, brand, and lifeworld.

About Philipp

Philipp Müller works in the IT industry and is academic dean of the SMBS. Author of "Machiavelli.net". Proud father of three amazing children. The views expressed in this blog are his own.

16. February 2010 by Philipp
Categories: Blog | Tags: , , , , | 2 comments

Comments (2)

  1. elizondo.sofia@bcg.com'

    What a great piece! ;)

    I would even suggest an alternative title also works: “When in CERTAINTY, move to the meta level” for the most dangerous stage is when we think we know what the world is going to look like or we think we know what we are doing — but we really don't.

  2. great point – reminds me of Donald Rumsfeld's Known-Unknowns vs. Unknown-Unknowns…

    “Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don't know we don't know.”