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Chris Zook and James G. Allen are co-leaders of Bain & Company's global strategy practice.

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An operations manual, compass, and mine detector for achieving sustainable and profitable growth 28. April 2010
Von Robert Morris - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
In this Updated Edition of Profit from the Core published by Harvard Business Press (2010) and written with James Allen, Chris Zook provides updated key examples while adding new ones and renders "the lessons learned in a way that management teams can use can use as a tool to reflect on the way forward in today's economy."

Given what Zook characterizes as "the current structural crisis in business," referring to developments during the "turbulent times" since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, here are the key points he lists in the Preface:

* Sustained and profitable growth requires a strong, well-defined core.

* Most sustained profitable growth companies have leadership positions in their cores that form the epicenters of their strategies.

* The number-one rule of strategy is to discourage your customers from investing in your core.

* The greatest source of strategic error, he and associates [at Bain] find, stems from an inaccurate understanding of the core and its full potential.

* Strong cores often contain hidden assets that prove to be the seeds of the next wave of growth - the topic of his previous book, Unstoppable.

* The key to sustained and profitable growth is to find a repeatable formula that utilizes the most powerful and differentiated strengths in your core and applies them to a series of new "adjacent" markets.

Zook's concept of "core" bears striking resemblance to Jim Collins' concept of the "Three Circles"," introduced in Good to Great: (a) What a company can be the best in the world at (and equally important, what it cannot be the best in the world at), (2) What drives the company's economic engine, and (3) What those in the company care most passionately about. For Zook, a core business "as that set of products, capabilities, customers, channels, and geographies that defines the essence of what the company is or aspires to be to achieve its growth mission - that is, to grow its revenue sustainably and profitably...The essence of a company's growth strategy is to define the core business as we have defined it and to pour company resources into this core business until it achieves its full potential."

Of special interest to me is what Zook has to say about five paradoxes that most management teams encounter when seeking to revitalize the growth of their company. They usually focus on the underperforming units. Zook and Allen argue that "growth requires instead on increasing the performance of the best businesses, no matter how well they are doing at present. Why? Paradox #1: The better performing of business units are likely to be those operating the furthest below their full potential. When discussing adjacency expansion, they introduce Paradox #2: "The stronger your core business, the more opportunities you have both to move into profitable adjacencies and to lose focus." When addressing when and how to redefine a core business, they introduce Paradox #3: "The management teams that have been most successful in building a strong core business and that have benefited from adjacency expansion are also the most vulnerable to industry turbulence." In Chapter 5, they provide some guidelines for the process of developing and refining growth strategy, then introduce Paradox #4: "All organizations inhibit growth...Overlying all the analysis in this book is a final paradox: From focus comes growth; by narrowing growth one creates expansion."

In order to continue creating value, it is eventually necessary for any company to invest in adjacencies. There are three basic types: a direct move into an immediate opportunity (e.g. Enterprise Rent-a-Car); an "option" purchased in a business related to the core, functioning as a hedge against future uncertainties (e.g. Intel and Microsoft); and a series of sequential moves that expand the boundaries and capabilities of the core business (e.g. Cisco's acquisition of Pure Digital Technologies). Whichever approach is selected, there are certain "pitfalls" that must be avoided. They are identified in Chapter 5 and there are seven of them: expanding toward an entrenched position, overestimating the profit pool, false bundling (of products, services, or both), invaders from unexpected directions, failing to consider all adjacencies, missing a new segment, and single-mindedly (stubbornly?) pursuing high-end adjacencies. They are thoroughly discussed on Pages 97-105.

In the final chapter, Zook poses ten questions that he and Allen believe management teams should periodically ask themselves about their companies and at the start if every review of their basic growth strategy. Here are the first three:

1. What is the most rightly defined profitable core of our business, and is it gaining or losing strength?

2. What defines the boundaries of the business that we are competing for, and where are those boundaries going to shift in the future?

3. Are there new competitors currently at the fringe of our business that pose potential longer-term threats to the core?

Long ago during one of his first meetings with the Green Bay Packers, Coach Vince Lombardi stood next to a blackboard, held up a piece of chalk, and claimed, "I can beat any offense or defense with this." The same is true of asking questions such as those that Zook and Allen pose when concluding the final chapter. In football it is far more difficult to execute the right strategies than it is to present them on a blackboard but you need to do both. In business it is far more difficult to formulate the right answers than it is to ask the right question but, again, you must do both.

In this Updated Edition of a book first published in 2001, Chris Zook with James Allen provide a wealth of information and counsel that a management team needs in its quest for sustainable and profitable growth. I agree with them that turbulent conditions create "confusion, blurred boundaries, less time to react, less tolerance for error, and often fewer resources" but they also create "unique opportunities to strengthen and expand string cores, and even to invest to reshape the structure of [its] industry ahead of competitors." For those in need of an operations manual, compass, and mine detector, here it is.
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A Blueprint for Success 26. Mai 2010
Von Larry Underwood - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
These are indeed "turbulent times". Prior to the worst economic meltdown since the Great Depression, many large and successful corporations seemed to embrace the philosophy of constantly expanding their operations, to foster "increased opportunities" for their employees; a very noble mission statement, indeed.

As a result, many corporations took their eye off the ball. Often, the new subsidiaries weren't nearly as profitable as their core business; they often required an inordinate amount of management time to keep them afloat, which in turn, resulted in diminished returns from the core business. It was a messy situation, at best.

Then came the global economic catastrophe, fueled by a housing bubble that finally burst, along with the disasters on Wall Street. Lehman Brothers & Bear Stearns were the most notable failures. Suddenly, every sector of business seemed to be on life support.

In a wonderfully crafted analysis of what businesses should do to once again foster growth, Chris Zook and James Allen have provided a fairly simple game plan: Stick to the core. Stick to what you do best while eliminating the waste.

The advice is really very simple; it's time to trim the fat, corporate America.
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Quick Read - good examples 14. August 2013
Von Kevin Hoepker - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
The book provides good insight on how companies need to remain focused on core businesses. Need constant evaluation to remain relevant in the business world.
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Fantastic!!! It is a superb Book. Every Businessman should read it at least once. 9. April 2013
Von Francesc Xavier Jucla Esteve - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
I am a Business Consultant, specialization in Strategy. I found this book a jewel.

It includes the Keys for Success in taking Business Decisions, I mean, where to Look for.

It brings many questions every Businessman, Executive should respond in order to drive the company in the Right Direction.

Finally, it is very well Documented with a lot of studies.

I love this Book!!!
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One of my 3 favorite business books 16. September 2012
Von Rob L - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
Profit From the Core is without a doubt one of my favorite business books. I rank it alongside Winning Decisions and The Goal.

This book is from the perspective of manager's wanting to achieve corporate growth, but the myriad concepts are so powerful they can be adapted to departmental strategies, evaluating corporations, mergers & acquisitions and even to designing one's own career strategy.

The updated edition from 2010 includes examples that are relevant in today's post financial meltdown world. No per-requisites should be required. It is a must read for those wanting to improve their business strategy acumen, and useful if you want to exercise your strategic thinking in general.
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