The Essential Advantage: How to Win with a Capabilities-Driven Strategy. Paul Leinwand, Cesare R. Mainardi. Harvard Business Review Press.

The Essential Advantage: How to Win with a Capabilities-Driven Strategy Book Cover The Essential Advantage: How to Win with a Capabilities-Driven Strategy
Paul Leinwand, Cesare R. Mainardi
Harvard Business Review Press
December 9, 2010

The conventional wisdom about strategy may be leading your company astray. In The Essential Advantage, Booz & Company’s Paul Leinwand and Cesare Mainardi maintain that success in any market accrues to firms with a coherence premium – a tight match between their strategic direction and the capabilities that make them unique.

Achieving coherence requires a sharpness of focus that few companies have mastered. This book helps you identify your firm’s distinctive blend of strategic direction and differentiated capabilities that give you the “right to win” in your chosen markets.

Based on extensive research and providing a wealth of exercises, tools, and company examples from many industries – including Amazon, Walmart, Pfizer, Inditex (Zara), Itau Unibanco, and Procter & Gamble – The Essential Advantage helps you construct a strategically coherent company in which the pieces reinforce one another instead of working at cross purposes.

Among other insights, the authors reveal:

  • Why you should focus on a system of only a few differentiated capabilities
  • How to identify the “way to play” in your market by finding the nexus of your customers and your own capabilities
  • Why you should manage your portfolio to fit your capabilities system
  • How to raise your top line by deploying your capabilities for growth
  • How to uncover surprising opportunities in M&A that conventional deal makers don’t see
  • How changing the way you think about costs can help you grow stronger
  • How to rework your organizational structures and practices to become more coherent than your competitors

Few companies achieve a capabilities-driven “right to win” in their markets. This book helps you position your firm among them.

Paul Leinwand is a partner in Booz and Company’s global consumer, media, and retail practice. He serves as chair of the firm’s Knowledge and Marketing Advisory Council.

Cesare Mainardi is managing director of Booz & Company’s North American business and a member of the firm’s Executive Committee. In 2005, Consulting magazine named him in its Top 25 Consultants list.