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Challengers: How a New Breed of Leaders Collaborates and Wins in a Hyper Competitive World

by Saar Ben-Attar


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As we shift ever more into a fast-changing, hyper-competitive economy, so does the organizing logic of our organizations must change, to outperform and sustain optimal performance. We are moving from clearly defined industry boundaries to porous borders, where new and emerging opportunity fields are found. There is a change from hierarchical organizational decision-making to autonomous networks that quickly solve challenges and scale new solutions. We are shifting from long-held employment relationships to partnerships with a multitude of role-players who collaborate toward a shared purpose.

Like significant transitions of the past, we find ourselves in exceptionally opportune times, but only for those willing to challenge. Here, we find a new breed of leaders at work, collaborating to win in a hyper-competitive yet opportune environment. They collaborate with a broad range of stakeholders, forming new ecosystems, within which they can unlock significant value beyond what is possible through individual efforts.

This book is about the collaborations and partnerships that lie at the heart of these thriving ecosystems. We explore the unique role that challengers play, and the challenger moves they employ, to help realise their bold ambitions. Without such collaborations, challengers fail to share ideas, optimize resources, and develop the capabilities needed for new value creation. With such collaborations and partnerships in place, we have the foundations for an entire ecosystem to thrive.

How much could such challenger moves be worth? A recent study by McKinsey & Co. estimated the ecosystem economy could reach approximately 70 to 100 trillion US dollars or roughly one-third of global gross economic output over the next few decades. Not surprisingly, leaders worldwide look at these seismic shifts in the nature of their industries and ask: “How do we become the builders of the new, ecosystem-driven economy? How can we position ourselves for success ahead, and importantly, with others?”

Many books have been written about the rise of business ecosystems and the challengers who thrive at the center of them. What we found was missing was a practitioner’s guide that focused on what the work of challengers entail and how they respond and outperform in hyper-competitive yet opportune environments. This is where examples and case-study illustrations are simply not enough.

Challengers offers a deeper look into their world and the practices they employ. It follows a tour of ten cities across the globe where challengers and their teams practice innovative forms of ecosystem building to solve meaningful challenges and unlock new opportunities. We go beyond well-known examples such as and Microsoft and case-study summaries. We shed light on how ecosystems are actually built, partnerships are forged, and impact is sustained in a dynamic, ever-changing environment. The result is a practical guidebook, which you, as the reader, can use with your colleagues and ecosystem partners from day one.

Accompanying this book is our online community of
Challenger CEOs—leaders like you, who practice new moves in their daily work. Here, we meet, share ideas and know-how, and contribute to one of the most exciting roles of the 21st Century—Ecosystem leadership.

The future of the organizations we lead and the ecosystems we help build, whose reach and impact are found well beyond, are at stake. It is said that the best way to secure our future is to create it.
Challengers is a practice guide for leaders in creating the collaborations and partnerships that lie at the heart of the new economy and an invitation to grow with fellow challengers.