Opinion

Are Your Company’s Strengths Really Weaknesses?

Adam Brandenburger

By Adam Brandenburger

Good strategists allow for the possibility that things may be what they seem or may be the opposite, depending on the situation.

By Adam Brandenburger

Look at a map of the world drawn upside down. It’s a good way to challenge your assumptions about the way the world is — especially which continents and oceans are bigger and which are smaller. Looking at the business world upside down has a similar effect: It challenges your assumptions about company characteristics and what they mean for an organization.

In an upside-down business world, big companies are brought down by their supposed strengths or toppled by smaller and seemingly weaker rivals. Small companies find ways to turn deficiencies into advantages or to leverage the scale and capabilities of larger competitors against them.

In the right-side-up world, strengths remain strengths and weaknesses remain weaknesses. That does seem to hold true in stable environments where technologies and market structures are more or less fixed. But as many well-known strategy theories recognize, the business landscape is far from unchanging. More often than not, the upside-down world is the one we actually live in.

Read the full Harvard Business Review article.

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Adam Brandenburger is J.P. Valles Professor