Master strategists George Stalk and Rob Lachenauer predict that busi- ness competition will become so fierce over the next 10 years that marginal victories and short-term advantages will not be enough to keep a company thriving. In Hardball, they explain that winning will require relentless strategic execution focused on turning competitive advantages into decisive advantages that neutralize, marginalize and even punish rivals.

The world of hardball competition is a place where the players are zeal- ously committed to winning and relentlessly driven to strengthen their com- petitive positions, creating a virtuous cycle that puts them far out of the reach of competitors. Stalk and Lachenauer turn the experience they have developed during 25 years advising and observing a wide range of compa- nies into a game plan for using hardball techniques. With these techniques, companies can achieve decisive victories over competitors — without bend- ing the law or compromising their obligations to stakeholders. Hardball competitors can unapologetically play rough, yet they are also adept at the “soft” side of management — rallying talent and building culture through a determined focus on the few issues that are most critical to their success.

Hardball presents detailed case studies of companies from many indus- tries to outline seven hardball strategies: unleash massive and overwhelm- ing force, exploit anomalies, threaten competitors’ profit sanctuaries, take it and make it your own, entice competitors into retreat, break industry com- promises, and hardball M&A.