Mark McDonald

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Mark P. McDonald
GVP EXP
8 years at Gartner
24 years IT industry

Mark McDonald, Ph.D., is a former group vice president and head of research in Gartner Executive Programs. He is the co-author of The Social Organization with Anthony Bradley. Read Full Bio

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Escape Velocity by Geoffrey Moore – a book review

by Mark P. McDonald  |  September 30, 2011  |  2 Comments

Escape Velocity by Geoffrey Moore addresses the fundamental issue of driving deep innovation and value realization in your company not by some new silver bullet but by the hard work required to free your company’s future from its past.  Moore’s central premise in this well written, actionable and highly recommended book, is that companies have a structural bias for investing in things today that cause it to starve out the new products and services that will generate growth in the next 2 -3 years.

Moore is a well-established innovator, thinker and marketing expert in the Silicon Valley.  His prior books like Crossing the Chasm,  Dealing with Darwin, etc. are foundational in the tech industry.  This book leverages these prior works, but it does not require you to have read them.  Suggestion if you are looking to read a companion work I would suggest Crossing the Chasm as it is related to the topics discussed in Escape Velocity.   This book is not a rehash of Moore’s market adoption model.

What makes this book highly recommended is that Moore offers a broad set of tools that work outside of tech to give executives and leaders real tools that they need right now.  This book is a model for a business book that is actionable, practical and deep enough to help you apply the ideas while still being engaging and interesting.

The book organizes itself around a hierarchy of powers that together shape a market, companies competing in that market and the products and services they offer in that market.  The powers are:

Category Power – the demand for a class of products, for example smart phones, fuel-efficient cars, or energy bars.

Company Power – the relative status and prospect for your company compared with peers.  For example:  Nokia vs. Samsung, Honda vs. Ford,  Cliff vs. Kashi

Market Power – the company’s power relative to a market segment, for example Subway in Quick Service Restaurants.

Offer Power – the demand for a product or service relative to reference competitors. The classic here is Whopper vs. Big Mac.

Execution Power – the ability to outperform competitors under equal conditions

The remaining chapters in the book concentrate on each of these powers, what they are, how they work, tools for applying them and at least two specific case studies that illustrate their importance.  Put all of this together and you get a powerful and actionable playbook for creating new market strategies.

Moore does surprisingly little pontification on market strategies, something common in other marketing related books.  Instead he shows you via 13 tools that you can use found in each of the powers.  To give you an example of the completeness of this book and here is a list of the tools it contains and explains:

Category Power

  • Category maturity lifecycle
  • Growth/Maturity Matrix
  • Horizon model

Company Power

  • Competitive separation
  • Two-business architecture model
  • Crown Jewels model

Marketing Power

  • Nine point market strategy framework

Offer power

  • Retain or innovate model
  • Six levers model
  • Price/Benefit model
  • Core/context model

Execution Power

  • The arc of execution

Listing all of these models may give the impression that the book is more of an encyclopedia or compendium than a book that makes an actionable argument.  Nothing could be further from reality.  Moore uses his experience, the central thesis of the book and case studies to describe why certain things have happened, why leaders made different decisions and the results of those decisions.

Moore finishes the book with a discussion of how you use these tools to transform you execution, vision or strategy.  This brings the toolset together and demonstrates that these tools work in practice rather than in theory.

Escape Velocity is a culmination of Moore’s other works.  Rather than simply restating them in today’s context, Moore is sharing the fundamental tools leaders can use to develop and execute their company’s strategies.  This is one of those rare books that should be purchased, studied, annotated and tried in your company.  Not every tool will fit, but the book gives you enough support such that you can make that judgment for yourself.

This sounds like a gushing review, and this has been one of the best books I have read in 2011.  The book does have some flaws.  The examples and cases concentrate on high-tech, which may turn off some.  The requirement for a leader that is willing to make asymmetric investments in new products and services is true, but under developed in the book.  The book covers Moore’s personal experience, which will make some see it as a digital infomercial.   I believe these weak points exist, but this book is more than worth your time and attention.

A suggestion, buy the hardcopy as you will be making notes throughout the book, dog earing pages, etc.  I read it on an eReader, which is great, but now using it as a reference is not the same as a hard copy.  You will use this book as a future reference.

Highly Recommended for any business executive who feels that their current strategy has lost its potency, punch and power.

PS: If you found this review helpful and you do not mind taking the time, please vote for it on Amazon.com on the book’s web page.[Follow this Link] To the book and the review section.  Thank you.

2 Comments »

Category: Book Review Innovation Leadership Management marketing Strategic planning     Tags: , , , , ,

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Ron S   October 3, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Thank you for the informative article. I’ve been a fan of Geoffrey Moore’s writing since Crossing the Chasm. I appreciate your honesty with what could have been worked out better in the book. Three cheers for Escape Velocity!

  • 2 dr.sarma   March 1, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    i follow geoffrey moor very closely. amazing thoughts. i engineered an escape in my client organisations pretty much with same concepts