Competing on the Edge: Strategy as Structured Chaos

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Harvard Business Press, 1998 - Business & Economics - 299 pages
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Unstable markets, fierce competition, and relentless change are the only certainties in today's chaotic business world. In their startling new book, authors Brown and Eisenhardt contend that to prosper in such volatile conditions, standard survival strategies must be tossed aside in favor of a revolutionary new paradigm--competing on the edge. To compete on the edge is to relentlessly reinvent, and it's the only way to navigate the treacherous waters of tumultuous markets. Competing on the edge is an unpredictable, sometimes even inefficient strategy, yet a singularly effective one in an era driven by change. It requires charting a course along the edge of chaos, where a delicate compromise is struck between anarchy and order, to the edge of time, where current business is the primary focus, but actions are shaped by past legacies and future opportunities. By adroitly maneuvering through chaos and time, managers can avoid constantly reacting to nonstop change and instead set a rhythmic pace that others must follow, thereby shaping the competitive landscape--and their own destiny. In the first book to translate leading edge concepts from complexity theory into management practice, each chapter focuses on a specific management dilemma and illustrates a solution. Linking "where do you want to go?" with "how will you get there?" here's a bold and surprising strategy that works--when the name of the game is change. "Competing on the Edge is about the rarely mastered science of becoming and remaining a market leader when your market's a moving target. Moore's Law, they remind us, began as an Intel business objective."--Wired "Competing on the Edge makes us think about how good or badwe are at adapting to change and dealing with unpredictability."--Financial Times "This book is not for the faint of heart, nor for those seeking merely a prescriptive, formulaic primer. But for those who can live with fundamental ambiguity, the examples make clear how powerful and successful this unorthodox approach can be."--Upside "If you want to learn something new about meeting the challenges of rapid change, read...Competing on the Edge."-- Inc. Magazine "Thought-provoking and to the point."--Michael S. Dell, Chairman and CEO, Dell Computer Corporation

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‘Competing on the Edge: Strategy as Structured Chaos’ brings a reflexivity to the Business Strategy by challenging and introducing innovation through borderless organization especially using most dynamic industries in the world. As I have been teaching, researching and consulting for many years in the area of Strategic Management, this book aligns with research and practice that academics and professional can use for teaching, consultancy, research and practices.
This book critiques about being a trap of structuring organization rather than encouraging creativity and innovation through empowerment through out the organization. Authors have applied qualitative approach with critical analysis and synthesis to develop themes and concepts using rich and thick description from their interviews. This book is not just a text but this is a text with research which provides reflexivity in strategy theory and practices.
This piece of work has developed new knowledge for theory and practice in Business Strategy by assessing applicability and transformability of rational, and processual models and theories of mainstream Strategic Management as an alternative and practical approach for the field. I see this is closely link with emerging strategy and crafting strategy. This is a timely and fascinating work by authors as a step forward and also a step for a salvation of the discipline.
I believe that in the future, people who are interested in this area will be looking at more subjectivity in strategy processes rather than rational and objective by integrating power, politics and culture of strategy processing in world of works.
Dr. Ananda Wickramasinghe (Ph.D in Strategic Management- University of Queensland, M.Com., BSc in Business-USJP, LCA-SL, PGDE-Reading)
Holder of the UQ Award for an Outstanding Research Higher Degree
Senior Lecturer and Research Coordinator, School of Business and Tourism
Waiariki Institute of Technology
Rotorua, New Zealand


Strategic Challenge of Change
Playing the Improvisational Edge
Capturing CrossBusiness Synergies
Gaining the Advantages of the Past
Winning Tomorrow Today
Setting the Pace
Growing the Strategy
Leading the Strategy
Rules of Competing on the Edge
About the Authors

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About the author (1998)

Shona L. Brown is a consultant with McKinsey & Company in Toronto, Canada.

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