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Knut Haanaes

Two Reasons Companies Fail—and How to Avoid Them

What strategy traps repeatedly entice well-meaning organizations and people? All too often, alluring and ambitious plans for the next big thing tease with a sense of promise and growth but ultimately fail to deliver. Knut Haanaes explores the important balance between two parallel strategies: exploration (vying for what is new) and exploitation (perfecting what is old). He explains the vital importance of balancing these strategies to ensure that maximum benefit is derived from existing assets and that new ventures and thinking are always part of the overall plan.

Knut Haanæs is the former global leader of BCG’s Strategy practice. Knut was named a BCG Fellow in 2015; his analysis is examining how large established firms can balance exploration and exploitation so that they can both run and reinvent themselves, thereby achieving sustainable performance and longevity. He is also coauthor of the bestselling book Your Strategy Needs a Strategy, published in 2015 by Harvard Business Review Press and is a professor of strategy and international management at IMD.

Since joining BCG in 2000, Knut has worked with clients across a number of industries, including financial services, petroleum, consumer goods and retailing, technology, and telecommunications.

In his client work, Knut advises clients on all facets of their business strategy, including growth, enablement, transformation, R&D, megatrends, and environmental efficiency.

Prior to joining BCG, Knut was executive director of the Research Council of Norway, heading the innovation division.

Areas of Expertise

  • Corporate sustainability and environmental efficiency
  • Growth strategy
  • Enablement
  • Research and product development innovation
  • Mega and meta trends
  • Large-scale transformation

Honors and Awards

  • Member of WEF Global Agenda Council on New Growth Models, 2012-2014


  • PhD, Copenhagen Business School
  • MA, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration
  • Visiting Scholar, Stanford University
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