What can be learned from 500 German companies, most of which you have probably never heard of? Actually, a great deal. The book is Hidden Champions and ts author is Hermann Simon. He explains that his book "reveals the secrets of success of the best of the best unknown companies." They are unknown, for the most part, because that's the way they want it. They "relish their obscurity. They shy away from publicity, some through explicit policies of not dealing with the press --or, by the way, with academic researchers!" such as the author. Simon selected them according to three criteria: They must be #1 or #2 in a world market or in their European market; they must be small-to-midsize; and they must have low public visibility. In Chapter 11, the final chapter, Simon carefully reviews various "lessons" which can be learned from "hidden champions." He categorizes them as follows: Lessons for Large Corporations, Lessons for Champion Corporations, Lessons for Diversified Corporations, Lessons for Small Companies, Lessons for Investors, and General Qualitative Lessons. He concludes: "The hidden champions go their own ways. Their procedures are quite different from those of other companies and of modern management teaching. Essentially, their only secret success formula is common sense. So simple, but so difficult to achieve! This is the ultimate lesson." Simon is to be commended for drawing attention to "champions" who know who and where they are...even if we didn't until now. His book is well-written, the content is substantial, and the lessons to be learned from these "champions" have immense potential value. However, as Coach Darrell Royal once observed, "potential" means "you ain't done it yet."ÿ
The main weakness of many business books is that they study the same companies over and over again and make the same points, until the companies start to do badly, and then new companies are found to describe in the same tired way. Peter Drucker told me about this book, and I am very glad that he did. By selecting very successful smaller companies with dominant world exporting positions, Hermann Simon gives us a totally different universe to consider. The lesons are very valuable, because these companies have found another path to success that most larger companies ignore. For an entrepreneur, this book is a better guide than 99% of the books about what entrepreneurs should do, because it points the way to large, lasting success. I have tried to do the same thing in my work, published annually in CHIEF EXECUTIVE magazine, by studying the most successful 100 CEOs in the country. These people also do things differently than what the business books suggest, and their model is quite different from what Hermann Simon found with these companies. The lesson seems to be that there are many paths to the top, and we should spend time finding them. This book is a "must" read for anyone who is serious about business success. I look forward to future books by Mr. Simon.
Hermann Simon hat die Erfolgsursachen führender mittelständischer Unternehmen untersucht. Seine Quintessenz: «Ich stellte fest, dass sie über die Ländergrenzen hinweg verblüffend ähnlich sind. Die gleichen Prinzipien scheinen überall zum Erfolg und zur Marktführerschaft zu führen». Typische Stelle: (aus der deutschen, vergriffenen Ausgabe) «Zum Überleben benötigt ein Unternehmen zumindest einen Wettbewerbsvorteil. Ein Prinzip der Evolutionstheorie, Gauses Gesetz des gegenseitigen Ausschlusses, drückt einen ähnlichen Zusammenhang aus: Eine Spezies wird nur überleben, wenn sie wenigstens eine Aktivität besser beherrscht als ihre Feinde. Sie muss fähig sein, schneller zu laufen, tiefer zu graben oder höher zu klettern. Das gleiche trifft auf den Wettbewerb zu, weil Wettbewerb - wie Evolution - nichts anderes ist als ein fortwährender Kampf um das Überleben.»
Many of us become aware of a few models of how to prosper. Magazines like Fotune, Forbes, and Business Week are one example; and they help us understand the e-commerce start-ups and the really LARGE companies. Books about successful leaders help as well (Jack Welch and Warrren Buffett books abound). Enrepreneurs are featured in other magazines like INC. What we get very little of is information about outstanding small and medium sized companies around the world who do things according to other ways of succeeding. This very large information gap is greatly improved by reading THE HIDDEN CHAMPIONS. If you have read and liked BUILT TO LAST, CUSTOMERS.COM, THE INNOVATOR'S DILEMMA or MANAGEMENT CHALLENGES FOR THE 21ST CENTURY (all are excellent books: be sure to read them if you haven't yet), be sure to add THE HIDDEN CHAMPIONS. This book is the sort of superb research that will stimulate your thinking about new models for how to succeed and prosper. The book is easy to read and understand, and you will learn about a lot of very well run businesses that you currently do not know about. You have a real treat ahead of you!
A nice change to the many many books and essays on how a Fortune 500 company did great. These small and medium sized companies are fantastic examples of what the core ingredients of a succesfull strategy are. Especially in times in which small technology companies conquer the world, the insights from the Hidden Champions are a must-read!
Die Strategien der manchmal kleinen und stets sehr feinen Marktführer auf verschiedensten Märkten werden anschaulich und nach Themen sortiert analysiert und dargestellt. Mir hat dieses Buch sehr brauchbare Anregungen gegeben, im Gegensatz zu den meisten Büchern aus der sogenannten Management-Literatur.
This is a welcome change from books describing how Fortune 500 companies did it. Instead, we get a look at unknown companies that have done very well, for decades and even for more than a century, using methods and values that totally ignore "politically correct" management fads