What leaders can learn about 'attacker's advantage' from the CVS-Aetna deal

The $69 billion merger between CVS and Aetna is a powerful example of the "attacker's advantage," according to  Ram Charan in an op-ed for strategy + business.

Mr. Charan is a business adviser and teacher who has spent 40 years consulting CEOs and executive boards. He defines the attacker's advantage as "the competitive edge generated by leaders who can detect subtle shifts in consumer behavior, markets, and economic and social systems; who can spot an opportunity before others do; and who can lead their enterprises decisively to execute on that opportunity."

Mr. Charan said this advantage is particularly necessary in healthcare because it is a rapidly changing field. In order to stay competitive, leaders must look for ways to integrate their organizational strengths with complementary companies to address new patient needs.

The CVS-Aetna deal represents vertical integration of Aetna's insurance business along with the pharmacy and benefits management business of CVS, which Mr. Charan says is an trend other leaders must now consider necessary to maintain a competitive edge.

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