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Profit from the Core: Growth Strategy in an Era of Turbulence (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 1. Februar 2001

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Spawned by a 10-year study of 2,000 firms conducted at Bain & Company, a global consultancy specializing in business strategy, Profit from the Core is based on the fundamental but oft-ignored maxim that prolonged corporate growth is most profitably achieved by concentrating on a single core business. To help companies identify this true essence, narrow their focus accordingly, and move forward in a manner that builds upon existing structure, Bain director Chris Zook and former Bain director James Allen present "a set of practical and proven principles, diagnostic tests, and questions for management teams to use as tools for reexamining or revising their strategies in search of the next wave of profitable growth." Bolstering their argument with real-world examples--including companies such as Disney, which succeeded by taking this approach, and Bausch & Lomb, which faltered by eschewing it--the authors show how to effectively uncover true corporate strengths, elevate them to realize their potential, identify related new businesses that could be successfully added, and even completely redefine a core when confronted with factors forcing such action. (For example: they offer a step-by-step method for mapping "adjacent opportunities" that may prove complementary, ranking them according to potential, and developing strategies to further evaluate and ultimately implement them.) The result is recommended for anyone tired of the management theory du jour who seeks a proven way to propel their company into the future. --Howard Rothman


This is an indispensable strategic guide for leaders in all industries based on a ten-year study of 2,000 companies. It gives a rigorous analysis of what drives successful growth strategies, consisting of specific company examples, financial performance histories, industry case studies, interviews with CEOs, etc. It identifies enduring and often counterintuitive lessons on achieving profitable growth over the long haul. It makes compelling case that it's the core business that provides the value and builds market power. It has a thorough examination of what differentiates sustained value creators. It is an authoritative text written by respected leaders of Bain's worldwide strategy practice.

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Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
This book shows all of the weaknesses of a data-heavy backward look at business. It describes the outlines of what has happened, but is very light on insights into what the lessons of that experience are.

The book's key conclusions will be very reassuring to those who are not inclined to look very far away from where they are today. The book is "a call back to the basics." "The better performing of your business units are likely to be those operating the furthest below their full potential." "The stronger your core business, the more opportunities . . . to move into profitable adjacencies and to lose focus." "The management team . . . most successful in building a strong core business . . . and benefited from adjacencies are . . . most vulnerable." "All organizations inhibit growth." "From focus comes growth; by narrowing scope one creates expansion."

As you can see, the apparent meaning of the words makes little surface sense. The buggy whip manufacturer should narrow focus to grow faster, perhaps by just focusing on one type of buggy ship.

The problem just described relates to a slippery concept of what your core is. You are to consider your most:

- potentially profitable, franchise customers (what does that mean?)

- differentiated and strategic capabilities

- critical product offering (what if you offer services?)

- important channels (what if you don't sell through channels?)

- other critical strategic advantages {such as?).

Then, you have a lot of questions to answer about these areas, and then you will know what your core is. It was opaque to me. But I do know from reading the book that Enterprise Rent-a-Car's core is renting to people with car insurance after accidents.
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.5 von 5 Sternen 28 Rezensionen
7 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Corporate leaders need a reality check! 6. April 2001
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Chris Zook thinks it's time for corporate leaders to get a big fat reality check on their dreams of continual, double-digit growth. He argues that the mindset that has developed around growth projections is totally unrealistic for most companies -- even considering the past decade of strong, economic expansion -- and he has numbers to prove it.
After examining the performance of close to 2,000 companies betweem 1988 and 1998, Mr. Zook found that only one in eight, or 13 per cent, managed to meet even modest growth targets.
If you don't understand and protect your core, you can't possibly select the right growth initiatives. If you select wrong, you face a double-whammy of wasting resources and leaving the true core undefended. This happens to start-ups and large corporations, to the weak and even more to the strong. Looking at the odds, it is probably happening to your business.
An excellent book!
5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Focus on your core 7. November 2001
Von Martin Schray - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
In a time of mega mergers and consolidation this book has an intriguing perspective. The authors (Bain consultants) argue that embracing non core businesses is probably trouble. Drawing on a huge multi-year study and Bain database the authors show that growing companies with unfocused acquisitions in non core businesses are typically under performers. The book shows several examples of how Bain purchased under performing companies (divisions) from conglomerates and by investing and focusing on their core business ignited explosive growth.
You might be asking how then does a business grow. The authors would say first by defining the core business. What business are we really in and good at. Once the core business has been defined and focused on growth opportunities come from opportunities adjacent to the core business. A few example adjacencies could be new customer segments, new channels, new geographies, new value chain steps (forward, backward...), new business, and new products.
If you are trying to define a sustainable growth strategy then this book is worth the read. If you have many non core business that are under performing then this book is worth the read. If you have a successful business and are looking for the next growth vehicle you will want to read this book.
10 von 12 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Without a Core, Chaos 31. Juli 2001
Von Robert Morris - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
NOTE: The review that follows was posted in 2001 and is of the earlier edition. Why is it featured here?

After a two-year study of the key strategic decisions that most often determine growth or stagnation in business, Zook (with Allen) realized that clients of Bain & Company were eager to share the results of that study. Only later did he decide to write this book, one in which he presents and then develops "a useful framework for understanding and addressing the key decision points encountered in growing a business." He concluded that this framework is practical and could be applied (with appropriate modification) within almost any organization. In the Preface, Zook acknowledges that he was surprised by some of the findings which he briefly identifies. He then observes: "Central to our findings are three ideas: the concept of the core business and its boundaries; the idea that every business has a level of full-potential performance that usually exceeds what the company imagines; and the idea that performance-yield loss occurs at many levels, from strategy to leadership to organizational capabilities to execution." In the five chapters which follow, Zook (with Allen) examines "the types of strategic business decisions that most often seem to tilt the odds of future success or failure." Zook correctly suggests in this book that many organizations cannot resist the appeal ("the siren's song") of "miracle cures" of their problems. Zook focuses entirely on what has been verified in real-world experience, on what is practical, and on what will reliably achieve the desired results of sound strategic decisions.

He and his associates learned a great deal from the study, confiding that "some of the results were quite counterintuitive to us." Several of the findings caught my eye and caused me to challenge a few of my own cherished assumptions. For example, that "the choice of the next hot industry was much less important in driving growth and profitability over the long term than were strategy, competitive position, reinvesting rates, and execution." They also learned that many of the most successful sustained growth companies are actually in lower growth businesses (e.g. Enron in energy, ServiceMaster in basic services, and Bechtel in engineering). Why? Zook suggests that "it might be precisely the difficulty of of these market environments that elicits superior business creativity in the search for new growth out of their core businesses." In other words, these companies ignored "the siren's song" and stuck to the aforementioned "basics": strategy, competitive position, reinvesting rates, and execution. In the last chapter, Zook quotes Sun Tzu: "The more opportunities that I seize, the more opportunities that multiply before me." He then asserts that this phenomenon "is at the heart of growth strategy and embodies the fundamental tension between protecting the core [i.e. `the basics'] and driving into more and better adjacencies, propelled by greater and greater success."

The various mini-case studies provided are very informative. I also appreciative the dozens of check lists (e.g. "Ten Key Questions for Management"), charts (e.g. 3-1 "Adjacencies Radiate from the Core"), and chapter "Conclusion" sections, all of which serve two important functions: they distill key ideas, and, they can serve as helpful reminders when reviewed later. Obviously, the "goal posts" in today's business world approach and then withdraw, widen and then narrow, with sometimes maddening unpredictability. Wait until they are closer for an easier kick or kick now ("carpe diem") before they begin to back up? Wait until they are wider? What if they become narrower? This metaphorical situation is complicated by the fact that opponents are trying to block the kick in what may well be inclement weather or at least against the wind. Kick now or wait?

One of the most interesting concepts shared in this book is what Zook refers to as "The Alexander Problem." Briefly, Alexander the Great and his armies eventually conquered an area stretching from Mount Olympus to Mount Everest. That was accomplished in less than four years. His resources became overextended. "His sticking point -- the failure to anchor in the core business (in his case, governance) and consolidate a rapid expansion --exemplifies the most common problem across all growth strategy": pursuing the wrong adjacency opportunities. With Alexander's premature death, his empire died with him. He was its core. The same is true of countless companies which expand into related segments which do not utilize, much less reinforce, the strength of their profitable core. "Business adjacencies are growth opportunities that follow a company to extend the boundaries of its core business. What distinguishes an adjacency from another growth opportunity is the extent to which it draws on the customer relationships, technologies, or skills in the core business to build competitive advantage in a new, adjacent, competitive area." Have you ever wondered why at least 70% of all mergers and acquisitions either fail or perform well below expectations? The board members and senior-level executives of those organizations obviously had not read Zook's analysis of "The Alexander Problem" in Chapter 3.

Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out Crawford and Matthews' The Myth of Excellence, Fitz-enz's The E-Aligned Enterprise as well as The ROI of Human Capital, and Collins & Porras' Built to Last.
7 von 8 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Competitive Advantage - stick to your knitting... plus... 28. Mai 2001
Von John C. Dunbar - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
First, this is an excellent book to read. Well researched, edited, and from experts active in the field.
Second, the author makes many important recommendations about how you should manage your company... strategically. Again, these recommendations are based largely on research done by the author or his peers mostly at Bain & Co. regarding maintaining competitive advantage.
With the exception of Jack Welch (and previously Geneen at IT&T, I'm sure), large conglomerates can not maintain growth rates over long periods of time (ten years was the period used in the book).
So, the recommendations that your company stick to its knitting ("the core") is the foundation of the book. But many people already know this. So, most interesting, are the recommendations and research that show the nuances.
For example, the author shows how the areas around your core business offer the most profitable opportunities for fast growth... yet also contain the most dangers from encroaching competitors, or bad fitting investments. He calls this area your adjacency.
The author suggests that how you manage your adjacency largely determines your success at long term business growth.
There are too many concepts and details to summarize here. There is a lot of meat to the book (although it is not a huge book). Still it is fairly easy to read. You will not whiz through the book because you will often pause to consider the ramifications of the author's points. But it is not a difficult read.
The books major points are well illustrated with many examples (Dell, Microsoft, Starbucks, W.W. Grainger, etc.).
This book is most appropriate for management involved in strategy, and investors trying to figure out the appropriateness of acquisitions by companies.
Most of the pages in my book are underlined. The stories fit the observations and recommedations well. The research presented was most interesting, and was often summarized into easily read charts and tables.
I highly recommend this book. There are lots of implementable ideas in this book. As an investor you will be able to spot an inappropriate acquisition much more easily. ...
7 von 8 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen The voice of reason in a time of turbulence. 12. April 2001
Von Michael B. Knowlton - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Chris Zook's, Profit From The Core couldn't have come at a better time. With the recent dot-com implosion, it seems almost perfect to say "I told you so," but that is not what these authors had in mind. This book presents a clear case for focus and mining a business' true core to establish long-term growth. The authors illustrate how, time and again, sustained value and long-term growth come from steadfast focus, rather than a wide-net approach to business strategy. It's pretty clear to me that any survivors over the past year will have adhered to this axiom.
Profit from the Core's common-sense approach to building a business is backed with meaningful, quantitative data. One idea, originally stated in Sun Tzu's Art of War, struck a particular cord with me: "The more opportunities that I seize, the more opportunities that multiply before me."
Zook and Allen have added the following insight: "Success multiplies opportunities. Proliferating opportunities complicate decision making and prioritization (a good problem to have) and therefore risk."
This challenge was clearly exhibited in the Internet consultancy market when many new startups and market leaders "lost their heads" in the crazy days of 1998 and 1999. While the opportunities were seemingly endless, companies that did not pursue a focused and logical path toward growth decreased their shareholder value, or, even worse, risked bankruptcy.
Profit From The Core presents an encouraging outlook on developing business strategy. Presented in a no-nonsense manner with solid data, the main concepts are based on common sense and easily applicable to business situations. I think most people will execute an adjacency mapping (which graphs how a company expands from its core) of their own business after they complete the book. This empirical approach will certainly prove helpful to an untold number of businesses.
Michael Knowlton CEO / Nascent State
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