ECONOMICS

Seeing Around Corners: How To Spot Inflection Points in Business Before They Happen

Houghton Harcourt. Sept. 2019. 272p. notes. index. ISBN 9780358022336. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780358018971. BUS
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McGrath (Columbia Business Sch.) defines an inflection point as “a change in the business environment that dramatically shifts some element of your activities, throwing certain taken-for-granted assumptions into question.” An example the author provides is streaming music largely replacing CDs,  cassettes, and vinyl records. The book tries to explain, through case studies and suggested tools and methods, how to become aware of possible inflection points early in their development. For instance, McGrath recommends thinking not in terms of industries but rather arenas: pools of contested resources to be used by one’s customers to meet a particular need or desire, and to look at issues that serve as barriers to consumers meeting those needs. She also considers leading indicators that can presage future states or conditions (e.g., employee engagement may be a top indicator for customer satisfaction). McGrath’s demanding, far-reaching solutions are intended to result in a business on the alert, with open and honest communication.
VERDICT A useful guide that is most appropriate for actual or aspiring managers and management consultants.

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