Goliath's Revenge - Ideas for Leaders

Goliath’s Revenge

How Established Companies Turn the Tables on Digital Disruptors

About Author/s:

Todd Hewlin is Managing Director at TCG Advisors, a leading growth strategy firm in Silicon Valley. Todd is regularly found in the boardroom of market leaders advising them on how to grow in a digital world.  His clients include GE Digital, Salesforce, Microsoft, Splunk, Cisco, Brambles, Veritas, Telstra, Hitachi, and Macquarie Capital.  Todd also served as a founding board member of talent network innovator TalentSky. 

Scott Snyder is a recognized thought leader in technology and innovation. He is currently a Partner at Heidrick Consulting, part of the global executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles, leading the Digital Transformation and Innovation Offerings for global companies.  Prior to Heidrick, Scott was the Chief Technology and Innovation Officer at Safeguard Scientifics (NYSE:SFE), which provides capital and relevant expertise to fuel the growth of technology-driven businesses in healthcare, financial services and digital media. 


We are all familiar with the tales of the fallen corporate giants, slayed by nimble start-up: think Kodak, Blockbuster, Nokia to name a few. The story has been well analysed, a mixture of poor strategy, hubris and a mix of legacy issues and lack of agility fatally undermines their ability to respond to the fast-changing context in which they operate. This book takes a fresh look at this phenomenon, where these issues are now better understood and suggests there is an alternative script where the incumbents’ strengths can be combined with start-up strategies to allow them to ‘proactively reinvent themselves’.

Core Idea

‘In industry after industry….established companies of all sizes…are taking bold steps to shift from being disrupted to becoming disruptors’ say the authors, ‘they are shifting from a mindset of ‘Defend the way we do things’ or ‘I just hope I retire before this really hurts my business’ to ‘we need to move aggressively now to leverage our unique capabilities…’.

They set out Six Rules of Goliath’s Revenge:
1. Deliver Step-Change Customer Outcomes, a  little better than last year is not good enough.
2. Pursue Big I and Little I Innovation, innovate both top-down and bottom-up
3. Use Your Data as Currency, you own your data so use it
4. Accelerate through Innovation Networks, overcome the curse of ‘not invented here’
5. Value Talent over Technology, preemptive skill development pays off
6. Reframe Your Purpose, have the guts to stay focused on what really matters 

The authors stress that companies need to be rigorous in how they assess themselves and understand the time they have available to transform themselves before their lunch and dinner are eaten by newcomers. Using a scorecard approach you can evaluate how to best allocate resources to go on the ‘digital offensive’.

Incumbent Goliath’s have many advantages, the authors advise you to work out which are your ‘crown jewels’, that are valued by customers, unique to you and hard to replicate. Under-pinning Goliath’s Revenge is the digital transformation truism that it is not the technology but the customer that makes or breaks companies, making the customer the centre of attention is vital and relentlessly increasing customer expectations, the ‘customer expectation ratchet’ as they term it, combined with using algorithmic advantage will position your business best for the future.


The book, as you would expect, delves into each rule in depth, but it also swivels the lens at the end and shows how these rules can be used personally to ‘disrupt’ your own, individual career, as well as that of your organization, and provides a playbook for each.


Goliath's Revenge - Hewlin & Snyder

  • Title: Goliath's Revenge, How Established Companies Turn the Tables on Digital Disruptors

    Author/s Name/s: Todd Hewlin & Scott Snyder

    Publisher: Wiley

    ISBN: 978-1-119-54187-5

    Publishing Date: February, 2019

    Number of Pages: 288

Author Knowledge Rating: 1-5 (based on their years of experience, academic expertise in subject areas, and exposure to cross-functional thinking in the area)

Readability: 1-5 score(1=dense and v academic; 5=frantic; page turner)

Appropriate Length: (1=could have been written in 25% of the length;5=could have been longer)

Core Idea Value: (1=nonsense (or entirely esoteric); 5=game-changer)