Strategy Beyond the Hockey StickPeople, Probabilities, and Big Moves to Beat the Odds
Beat the odds with a bold strategy We’ve all seen hockey stick business plans before. A future where results sail confidently upward, but with a dip coinciding with next year’s budget. CEOs usually rely on their experience and business smarts to figure out which of those hockey sticks are real, and which are fake. But all too often getting to a “yes,” competing for resources, and striving to claim credit, cloud the hard decisions. Another strategy framework? No thanks, we already have plenty of those, and they don’t fix the real problem: the social dynamics in your strategy room. Mining the data from thousands of large companies, McKinsey Partners Chris Bradley, Martin Hirt and Sven Smit open the windows of that room, and bring an “outside view.” They found three discrete groups of companies: the bottom quintile with massive economic losses; the long, flat, middle 60 percent with practically no economic profit; and the top 20 percent to whom all the value accrues. Some companies do achieve real hockey stick performance: but just 1-in-12 jump from the middle tier to the top over a ten year period. This does not happen by magic—there is an empirically-backed science to improve your odds of success by capitalizing on your endowment, riding the right trends, and most importantly, making a few big moves. To make these big moves happen, you’re going to have to break through inertia, gamesmanship and risk aversion. You’re going to have to mitigate human biases and manage group dynamics. Eight practical shifts can help you do this, and unlock bigger, bolder, better strategies. This is not another by-the-book approach to strategy. It’s not another trudge through frameworks or small-scale case studies promising a secret formula for success. It’s an irreverent, fact-driven, and humorous take on the real world of strategic decision making.
SVEN SMIT is a Senior Partner in Amsterdam. He leads McKinsey Western Europe and, before that, led McKinsey's Strategy Practice. He is the co-author of the bestselling book Granularity of Growth. MARTIN HIRT is a Senior Partner in Greater China. He leads McKinsey's Global Strategy & Corporate Finance Practice. CHRIS BRADLEY is a Partner in Sydney. He leads McKinsey's Business Strategy service line.
Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick is about unlocking big moves—because that is what it takes to beat the odds in business. Anchored in empirical evidence from thousands of companies, it reveals what really matters—and what does not—for exceptional performance. Despite their best intentions, business leaders often get bogged down by human biases and social dynamics that get in the way of clear strategy and strong execution. Just about anyone proposing a strategy comes in with a confident "hockey stick" projection. But how do you distinguish the true breakthrough plans from the fakes—and then carry through the tough choices needed to make good on those promises? Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick provides you with practical advice on how to change these dynamics in your strategy room and make the right strategic moves. Chris Bradley, Sven Smit, and Martin Hirt are all leaders in McKinsey's Strategy Practice. They have worked together over the last decade on a mission to advance the state of the art in strategic management, while serving corporate leaders around the world to help them beat the odds.
PRAISE FOR STRATEGY BEYOND THE HOCKEY STICK "A different kind of book—I couldn't put it down. Inspiring new insights on the facts of what it takes to move a company's performance, combined with practical advice on how to deal with real-life dynamics in management teams." —JANE FRASER, CEO, Citigroup Latin America "A refreshing new look at what drives corporate performance. Even in fast-growing Internet businesses, people and their interactions are at the core of developing and executing strategies. The ideas shared in this book inspire fresh thinking and bold actions." —MARTIN LAU, President, Tencent Technology "This book is fundamental—I have seen hockey sticks in business plans more than I like to admit. The principles laid out here, with compelling data, are a great way around the social pitfalls in strategy development." —FRANS VAN HOUTEN, CEO, Royal Philips N.V. "Sustaining institutions long-term often means determining what must evolve. Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick provides a roadmap for strategic evolution and a toolkit for identifying big moves that will take already strong organizations to the next level of performance." —WENDELL WEEKS, Chairman and CEO, Corning Incorporated "Every once in a while, a genuinely fresh approach to business strategy appears. Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick delivers exactly that. Its analysis of the human elements in strategy-making—social, psychological, and political—cuts to the heart of why most strategies are banal and fail to focus action. If you want to break out of the rut, get this book." —PROF. RICHARD RUMELT, UCLA Anderson School of Management "The great contribution of this book is that it joins the 'hard data' side to the equally crucial—and largely ignored—arena of social dynamics and human leadership. It is this rare combo of the 'hard' and the 'soft' that makes Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick so distinctive." —PROF. ROBERT KEGAN, Harvard Graduate School of Education
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