Rita Gunther McGrath

Rita Gunther McGrath



  • Discovery Driven Planning: Conquering Death by Spreadsheet
  • Customers Should not be a Mystery
  • Catch a Wave: The New Strategy Playbook
  • Beyond Innovation Theater
  • Learning to Live with Complexity
  • Designing a Portfolio for Growth
  • Failing by Design

What she offers

Rita is an exceptional instructor and is highly valued for her ability to challenge executives’ assumptions and provoke fresh thinking. Her extensive experience with companies all over the world, make her a unique resource for organizational leaders.

How she presents

Rita takes complex topics and makes them understandable and applicable. Her presentations are extremely informative, full of examples, case studies and questions which prompt lively discussions. Her handouts, tools, and slides enhance her classes tying academic research to actionable takeaways.

Rita Gunther McGrath, a Professor at Columbia Business School, is regarded as one of the world’s top experts on strategy and innovation with particular emphasis on developing sound strategy in uncertain and volatile environments. Her ideas are widely used by leading organizations throughout the world, who describe her thinking as often provocative, but unfailingly stimulating. She fosters a fresh approach to strategy amongst those with whom she works.

Rita has been recognized as one of the Top 10 Most Influential Business Thinkers by Thinkers50 in 2015 and 2013. Thinkers50 presented Rita with the Distinguished Achievement Award for Strategy in 2013. She has also been inducted into the Strategic Management Society “Fellows” in recognition of her impact on the field. Rita is a charter member of the President’s Leadership Advisory Council, Dr. Jim Kim and Dr. Marshall Goldsmith’s advisory council for the executive leadership team at the World Bank. Rita maintains an active social media presence, and has been rated one of the 25 smartest women to follow on Twitter by Fast Company Magazine. She consistently appears in rankings of the top business school professors to follow on Twitter. Rita was voted HR Magazine’s Most Influential International Thinker, writes regularly for Fortune magazine’s online edition, authors a column, “The Entrepreneurial Strategist” for Inc magazine and blogs regularly at HBR.org. Rita is also one of the Wall Street Journal’s Experts.

Rita’s best-selling book, The End of Competitive Advantage, was recognized by Strategy+Business as the #1 business book of the year. Her book MarketBusters has been translated into ten languages and was named one of the best business books of 2005 by Strategy+Business. Rita is one of the most widely published authors in the Harvard Business Review, including the best-selling “Discovery Driven Planning” (1995), which was recognized as an early articulation of today’s “lean” startup philosophy and has been praised by Clayton Christensen as one of the most important ideas in management – ever. She is a highly respected academic researcher whose work has won awards from the most prestigious management journals. Rita joined the faculty of Columbia Business School in 1993. Prior to life in academia, she was an IT director, worked in the political arena, and founded two startups. She received her Ph.D. from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and has degrees with honors from Barnard College and the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs.


  • Seeing Around Corners: How to Spot Inflection Points in Business Before They Happen (2019)
  • The End of Competitive Advantage (2013)
  • Discovery Driven Growth (with Ian C. MacMillan) (2009)
  • MarketBusters (with Ian C. MacMillan) (2005)
  • The Entrepreneurial Mindset (with Ian C. MacMillan) (2000)


  • Thinkers50 presented Rita with the #1 award for Strategy, the Distinguished Achievement Award, in 2013
  • Strategic Management Society ‘Best Paper’ and ‘Runner Up’ Awards in 2001 and 2004
  • Maurice Holland Award from the Industrial Research Institute
  • Academy of Management Review ‘Best Paper’ Award
  • Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice Award for the Best Conceptual Paper (both 1992 and 1996)
  • European Foundation for Entrepreneurship Research (EFER) Best Paper Award


“Thanks so much for an amazing session. You “wowed” our audience with your stories and insights.”

“Many thanks to you Rita! Your message was relevant, informative and thought-provoking. You were terrific! We’ll definitely work together again.”

“Rita did a great job of getting the message across in 45 minutes, as she is a great speaker and connects well with the audience. Rita speaks from her heart and does not use notes. It is very conversational. In our post-event survey, Rita’s presentation was ranked the highest of all external speakers.”

“We were delighted with Rita’s presentation. The feedback from our delegates was fantastic – they found Rita’s presentation thought-provoking, full of great new ideas, and very relevant to their work and they loved her clear and energetic delivery.”

“Rita is a delight to work with. Incredibly sharp, very thoughtful, personable and highly organized – I have yet to meet another speaker who carries their own clicker, a spare clicker, spare batteries for the spare clicker… She is genuinely interested in her audience, her material is absolutely world-class and she enjoys and excels at Q&A. Rita’s opening talk was a great way to set up this year’s Business of Software Conference, her material both stimulating and directed at the needs and interests of the group. Brilliant minds aren’t always the easiest ones to work with, Rita is a shining exception. I would add her voice is so calm and authoritative that Rita should think about a second career doing satellite navigation voices.”

“Rita was a brilliant and engaging speaker – lots of value to senior executives from large companies, and always a pleasure to work with.”

Presentation Languages: English

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