Rita McGrath

Rita McGrath

Globally recognized expert on strategy, innovation, and entrepreneurship; champion of harnessing disruptive influences for competitive advantage.


Ranked #7 in 2023.

Previously featured:

#2 (2021), #5 (2019), #10 (2017), #9 (2015), #6 (2013), and #19 (2011).


Recipient of the Thinkers50 2013 Strategy Award for The End of Competitive Advantage.



Shortlisted for the Thinkers50 2021, 2019, 2015, and 2011 Strategy Awards and the 2011 Book Award.



McGrath’s focus is on developing innovation and growth strategies during times of uncertainty.  She argues that the traditional reliance of businesses on competitive advantage is no longer relevant in today’s boundary-free markets. McGrath’s research into disruptive inflection points – the “overnight shifts that disrupt a market” – reveals how smart leaders can learn to anticipate them. Rita is the co-architect (with Ian C. MacMillan) of discovery-driven planning, a disciplined process to systematically uncover, test, and revise assumptions behind the plan of a new venture. Discovery-driven planning is a five-step process that helps businesses protect themselves against invalid assumptions and unforeseen costs when attempting to create innovative products.


McGrath started out in government working for the City of New York, where she became interested in large-scale organizational change. Upon returning to academic life she co-authored three books with Ian C. MacMillan at Wharton’s Sol C. Snider Entrepreneurial Research Center, which explored entrepreneurship, innovation, and growth in fast-moving, uncertain markets. McGrath is a professor at Columbia Business School, and the founder of Valize a company focused on helping organizations go beyond innovation theater by developing tools to implement the Discovery Driven Growth approach. Her book Discovery-Driven Growth (co-written with Ian C. MacMillan) was featured on the Thinkers50 Management Classics Booklist in 2023.


Seeing Around Corners (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019); The End of Competitive Advantage (HBR Press 2013); Discovery-Driven Growth (with Ian C. MacMillan Harvard Business Press, 2009); Market Busters (with Ian C. MacMillan, Harvard Business School Press, 2005); The Entrepreneurial Mindset (with Ian C. MacMillan, Harvard Business School Press, 2000).


Media picks


“Discovery-driven planning is one of the most important ideas in management – ever” 

Clayton Christensen

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