The Attacker's Advantage - Ram Charan

The Attacker's Advantage - Ram Charan

Turn the challenge of uncertainty into a way to develop your business through a more agile strategy!

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We are living in a period where forces that influence the performance of a company are constantly changing. This scenario of uncertainties is the main challenge of the leadership. And that is the subject of the book "The Attacker's Advantage" by Ram Charan, which will help you to deal with this problematic.

In this book, tools are presented for achieving success in this context of doubt. From this we learn to plunge into the unknown and turn it into opportunities, making us pioneers.

Do you have a business and want to transform uncertainty into an opportunity to be the first to achieve the next step? Keep reading and we will give you tips on how to use an aggressive strategy to get ahead of your competitors!

About the book "The Attacker's Advantage"

The book "The Attacker's Advantage" was published in 2014 by the author Ram Charan. The work consists of 176 pages divided into four parts subdivided into 16 chapters.

The importance of leaders always being aware of the change and adapting is addressed before innovations wipe out their business.

The work was defined by Publishers Weekly as:

"An extremely useful source for those dealing with a constantly changing market and incessant demands."

About the author Ram Charan

Ram Charan is an author of several books, including the bestsellers "Execution" and "The Leadership Pipeline". Born in India, he began learning about companies from his personal experience at his family's shoes store.

He works as a business consultant and advisor to a plenty of CEOs around the world, providing practical solutions to the challenges facing companies.

And also, he has been on the Forbes celebrities top 100 list in India since 2013.

To whom is this book indicated?

It is suitable for leaders who want to adapt to the world of uncertainty and turn it into great opportunities to attack and get ahead of the competition.

Furthermore, if you want to learn new strategies to apply in your business, such as the aggressives one, making your company more agile and "smart", this book is definitely for you!

Main ideas of the book "The Attacker's Advantage"

  • Structural uncertainty is the biggest leadership challenge of our time;
  • Leaders need to develop perceptual acuity;
  • It is necessary to go for the attack, having an offensive mentality and defining away;
  • Organizations should become agile and a great tool for this is group practice sessions.

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[Book Summary] Attacker's Advantage - Ram Charan

Overview: The Leading Leadership Challenge of Our Time

According to the author Ram Charan:

"Taking control of uncertainty is the main challenge of leadership in our day."

While uncertainties are part of our lives and the routine of the business world, the scenario that today's leaders have faced is truly unique and challenging.

Road curves

In addition to the known operational, professional and macroscopic uncertainties, we have faced structural uncertainty.

This means that today's acting forces can seriously damage or even extinguish a specific industry or entire economic.

In this scenario, for a company to survive, there must be a whole new leadership that can predict the future and moves on to attack.

Therefore, the author Ram Charan states in the book "The Attacker's Advantage" that the people who are best prepared to deal with this scenario have:

  • Perceptual acuity;
  • Ability to see opportunities in uncertainty;
  • Ability to devise a new path and commit to it;
  • Ability to make the transition to the new path;
  • Ability to make the organization steerable and agile.

To adapt to this new reality, many changes will be required and this may bring discomfort.

However, the way we deal with uncertainty can put us in completely different worlds: that of a defensive attitude or attack, a world of fast-acting entrepreneurs!

Why is structural uncertainty different

In this chapter of the book "The Attacker's Advantage", the author Ram Charan demonstrates that structural uncertainty proves to be more complex precisely because it is external, beyond our control.

Thus, we must create our place in this new scenario that presents itself before we are destroyed.

Almost no business is free from the threat of dealing with structural uncertainty, and it does not always appear overnight.

Most of the time, signs of uncertainty are not noticed by companies, causing them to be taken by surprise and have difficulty reacting. Therefore, we must be aware of external signals.

The algorithmic revolution and the rise of mathematics

In this section, Ram Charan shows that today the largest single instrument of change is the development of tools involving mathematics, thanks to that a huge upside is offered.

These tools are capable of predicting behavior by collecting a huge amount of data and this has changed the structure of the global economy and people's lives.

This revolution has enabled a new level of interactivity between businesses and consumers. This means that companies are able to predict preferences and then develop strategies.

It makes decision making much faster and more effective.

Looking for warning signs

According to Charan, in the book "The Attacker's Advantage", many leaders are constantly afraid of not realizing the arrival of the changes. In fact, many are important leaders who have ignored or even noticed structural changes.

Warning signs are mostly external. For this reason, one has to be aware, since the advantage of attack is the ability to identify the forces that are redefining the market and to position themselves before others.

Overview: Developing Perceptual Acuity

In this chapter, Charan demonstrates the huge importance of perceptive acuity with the following statement:

"Is our human radar to see in the fog of uncertainty the way we act before others."

It is not usually part of leadership development, so few leaders play it!

Identifying the catalysts for structural change

Leaders often look at their business from the inside out, looking for what fits what they know.

But the author Ram Charan shows what skills the leadership needed today, one of them is look inward from the outside, always looking for signs of change.

One of the first signs of change is the emergence of catalyzing, that is, a person with excellent perceptual acuity, who thinks creatively, ponders and acts for new opportunities.

Although perceptual acuity is natural to some, leaders can and should cultivate it by observing and adopting the routine and disciplined practice of looking for the new.

Seeing What Catalysts See

The more we develop perceptual acuity, more we become aware of news and trends, allowing us to see reality from different angles.

We must always be alert to what is new and what is irregularity, contradiction or anomaly. Some examples of the anomaly are:

  • An accelerating trend;
  • An extraordinary event;
  • Scalability potential.

In short, when faced with these situations, we must reflect on what the new scenario will look like and how we can take advantage of it.

The book "The Attacker's Advantage" states that It is extremely important to involve others in this process in order to enrich these analyzes with more points of view.

Tools for developing perceptual acuity

Many people use everyday rush as an excuse for not developing perceptual acuity. However, the most important thing is to have focus and discipline to watch closely during your routine.

To assist you, the author Ram Charan presents several tools:

  • Ten-minute exercise: Devote ten minutes from a weekly meeting to identifying seeds and catalysts.
  • Seek contrary views;
  • Dissect occasionally the past;
  • Dive into the sources of risk;
  • Continuously develop your mind map of the change in various industries;
  • Consider who could use an invention, patent or new law to create a turn in the road;
  • Ask what is new;
  • Use outsiders to intensify their observation skills;
  • Observe the social scenario;
  • Be a voracious reader.

How Tata Communications Expands the Company's Vision Horizon

At this point of the book "The Attacker's Advantage", again, is addressed how perceptive acuity can be a big advantage for telecom companies. A great example of this was the change adopted by Kumar, CEO at Tata Communications.

He realized that company leaders were focused solely on increasing productivity and efficiency, in order to create a culture of intellectual curiosity, learning, and exploration, took 3 specific steps:

  1. Provided classes in a renowned organization for its leaders;
  2. Created volunteer teams for exploratory projects;
  3. Developed training sessions to stimulate creativity.

It is important to remember that these exercises should not be purely academic. Rather, they should serve as a source of information for change implementation.

Overview: Attacking

Here the author Ram Charan inquires us about the challenges in moving to a new path, but he says that we cannot allow this to divert, and prevent us from defining our goal. Today, maintaining a defensive posture means regressing.

Setting the path

It is extremely relevant that you are agile and willing to make changes more than once if necessary.

However, in the book "The Attacker's Advantage" is addressed that these changes involve a variety of organizational factors, so everything needs to be aligned with your strategy.

Leaders cannot let new technologies replace the intuitive sentiment toward customers, as the goal of the organization must be to find out what is leaving a gap in the consumer experience. For this, nothing is more efficient than direct observation.

Offensive mentality

Choosing a path through uncertainty involves psychological issues as your ability to cope with instability will be tested.

In this process, you should commit to one goal even though everything still seems very confusing and risky.

In this new journey, you must adopt an offensive mindset, and for this, it is very important to pay attention to the subconscious blocks of all involved so that it does not prevent them from moving on.

According to Charan, some subconscious blocks that interfere with perceptual acuity are:

  • Attachment to existing skills;
  • Inability to develop a new competency;
  • Obsolescence of people who were once fundamental to the organization;
  • Fear;
  • Rejection of the opposition.

Being aware of your psychological blocks and striving to overcome them will be a test of courage that will give you the freedom to follow.

It is impossible to eliminate all uncertainties in our lives, but not addressing them is a great risk.

Overview: Creating an Agile Organization

In this section the author Ram Charan explains the external environment, its complexity and constant changing. But one of the biggest challenges is getting leaders to relate these transformations to their day-to-day organizations.

Group practice session: transparency and coordination

An excellent strategy for always being aware of external changes and bringing them to the day to day of the company is through group practice sessions.

These sessions are based on the following principles:

  • Inclusion of all key people whose work is interdependent;
  • Transparency is sovereign;
  • Members look for the root cause of each problem, helping the person solve it;
  • Transparency enables people to understand how decisions influence each part of the company and common goals;
  • Discussions include comments on the external context and its reflection on business;
  • Members will conduct their areas better by being able to view group progress and obstacles weekly.

How Keurig Green Mountain Adopted the Group Practice Session

To Ram Charan, group practice sessions serve as a way to direct the leadership of an organization and are useful for any organizational level that requires joint decision making.

Brian Kelley, CEO of Keuring Green Mountain wanted to lead the organization in a new way, and he turned to SPGs as a way to let his leaders see the business as a whole.

Decision Making: What, Who, How - Focusing on the Organization's Key Decision Nodes

In order for you to take your business on a new path, you also need to change the way you make key decisions. This requires identifying decision nodes and looking at them in a new way so that all sectors of the organization work together more efficiently.

Also, it is important to get the right people to make the most important decisions. But in the book "The Attacker's Advantage" is explained that It turns out that the right people are not always the ones who have worked for the company for years and have contributed a lot in the past.

The right person is the one who has the attitude, skills, and expertise for the position. After defining nodes and their members, it is important to monitor how they are working, keeping everything in sync with the outside world.

There must be a strong connection between the node and essential information sources, always exploiting the potential of digitization.

Driving on two lanes

In addition to having a plan on what way to go, it is necessary to have the capital to sustain this change. That way you can't leave your current business because you're looking for something new.

Once you set your ultimate goal, you should set short-term goals to achieve it.

As stated by the author Ram Charan, these goals do not always have to be quantitative, the idea is to create a practical and viable path. These short-term accomplishments must always be monitored.

The budget should be as flexible as possible to keep up with all changes in the internal and external environment.

Often money will have to be reallocated to support the investment and this requires great care and discipline so as not to lose cash or liquidity.

Merck's rapid organizational counterattack

Jay Galeota, president of Merck Hospital & Specialty Care is a great example of a leader who faced skepticism from many people and had the resilience and courage to lead his organization through uncertainty.

After a major overhaul, he was able to make his business much more agile and responsive to new changes.

What do other authors say about it?

In the book "Reinventing Organizations", Frederic Laloux says that organizations shape themselves according to the evolution of human consciousness.

In the book, "Warren Buffett's Management Secrets: Proven Tools for Personal and Business Success", the authors provide valuable insight from one of the world's largest investors. One is to not be ashamed of not having an original idea.

Heidi K. Gardner's "Smart Collaboration" book underscores the importance of cultivating smart collaboration with your employees. Thus, there is a team of great professionals aligned to expand their horizons, innovate, work as a team and win customer loyalty.

Okay, but how can I apply this to my life?

  • Always develop and practice perceptual acuity;
  • Keep an offensive mindset and set a new path for your business;
  • Use the group practice session tool;
  • Make your business more agile and steerable and always be prepared to make changes.

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Book 'The Attacker's Advantage'