Not surprisingly, several current books claim to tell companies how to be agile. But none of them made this list of best books, because they all fall into the common trap of selecting a successful company and then attributing its success, in retrospect, to something that they call “agility.” To date, there is little work on agility or resilience that does not suffer from this sort of rationalization. Competition may be the topic of leading strategy books in 2008, but if these books are right — if competition can be described as a Red Queen race in which capabilities that lead to success in one time period become a trap that makes subsequent success less likely — then one would hope that next year we will feature high-quality books about agility and resilience. Although it may be impossible to defy gravity forever, devising actions that might forestall the erosion of performance should be of interest to all strategists.
Phil Rosenzweig is a professor at IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he works with leading companies on questions of strategy and organization. He is the author of The Halo Effect...and the Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers (Free Press, 2007).