- Gebundene Ausgabe: 190 Seiten
- Verlag: Harvard Business Review Press (2. April 2007)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 1422103668
- ISBN-13: 978-1422103661
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 16,5 x 1,9 x 24,1 cm
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Unstoppable: Finding Hidden Assets to Renew the Core and Fuel Profitable Growth (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 2. April 2007
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Over the next decade, two out of every three companies will face the challenge of their corporate lives: redefining their core business. Buffeted by global competition and facing an uncertain future, more and more executives will realize that they must make fundamental changes in their core even as they continue delivering the goods and services that keep them in business today. "Unstoppable" shows these managers how to look deep within their organizations to find undervalued, unrecognized, or underutilized assets that can serve as new platforms for sustainable growth. Drawing on more than thirty interviews with CEOs from companies such as De Beers, American Express, and Samsung, it shows readers how to recognize when the core needs reinvention and how to deploy the "hidden assets" that can be the basis for tomorrow's growth. Building on the author's previous books, "Profit from the Core" and "Beyond the Core", this book shows how any company in crisis can transform itself to become truly unstoppable.
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1. First of all, as the author himself admits at the outset, this book draws mainly on the works of some other powerful business writers. Zook says that Unstoppable is at the intersection of these three bodies of work but in effect it draws mainly on two separate literature. First is the book by Slywotzky, How To Grow When The Markets Don't where Slywotzky puts forward the concept of internal "intangible assets". The second body of work is Hamel&Prahalad's' 'core competence' literature, but mainly the book Competing For the Future. Zook takes the main concepts of these two bodies of work and merges them under a supposedly new term "HIDDEN ASSETS". Voila! Business management literature has a totally new terminology. The concept of hidden assets is no more than a cocktail of core competence and intangible assets concepts. However, neither concept is clearly handled in Unstoppable. If the reader refers to a wonderful book by Peter Skarzynski and Rowan Gibson (Innovation to the Core: A Blueprint for Transforming the Way Your Company Innovates) he/she will find a much more useful definition and handling of the concept of 'core competence', for example. Moreover, if you want a really good insight into the concept of intangible assets, I suggest you stick with Adrain Slywotzky's original work which is miles away in depth and in prose than the present one.
2. The author argues that "it looks like maintaining the core as the basis of your profitable growth will not last long in a rapidly changing business world and that every company must question their core business and must find ways to redefine their core, i.e. reinvent their business". He rightly argues that this can only be done by business model innovation. He then moves on to suggest three methods for finding insights into new business model generation. These are (a) Undervalued Business Platforms, (b) Untapped Customer Insights and (c) Underutilized Capacities. I must say first of all that the handling of these three subjects is poor. Examples are usually wishy-washy, sometimes irrelevant. There is, for example, a Hyperion case in the Untapped Customer Insights section which, I must say, is a showcase of how Zook provides case examples. I personally do not know what Hyperion does and I don't think that I have to. He presumes that the readers are all Americans and they all know who Hyperion is. Who are they? What is their current business model? What went wrong in layman's language? How did they correct it? I could not get even a hint. Two and half pages of techno mumbo jumbo so as to make the author look like an expert on tehcnology and leave the reader an ignorant person role so that he/she admires the author more. Not me, I am sorry.
The book draws heavily on the case of De Beers diamond company. You know De Beers, the products of which you all use in your daily lives. There is a lot of info about De Beers diamond company but what we learn as their business model innovation is this: Formerly they were controlling the supply side of diamond business and hence acting as a monolopy. Then circumstances changed, monopoly went and De Beers was left with a need for business model change. What did they do? They focused on the demand side, pushed branding and decided to become closer to the final customer. Eureka. Is this business model innovation for god's sake? This is sheer necessity. And are you, referring to De Beers chapter after chapter, telling us that 'branding' is business model innovation? If so, please don't because it isnt.
3. The book, by drawing on a 'mystic' concept like 'HIDDEN' assets makes the already tough job of business model innovation tougher. Why hidden? And why is it correct that there is always a possibility of having hidden assets hiding somewhere? Business model generation is first and foremost about coming up with a radical Customer Value Proposition (CVP). For this, you first need to look outside your company. You must look at the changing needs of not only your core customers, but also the forceful trends and discontinuities in the overall category. Only then can you come up with radical CVP's. This book, however, follows an inside-outside approach and looks mainly at the inner capabilites of the company. Even the Untapped Customer Insights section cannot escape this inside focus. For example in the same Hyperion example, the customer insight comes from the company's Finance department's customer information. Not from market research, etnography etc.
Another major defect in this book is it is too much CONGLOMERATE-FOCUSED. Most of the examples show that. For example Underutilized Capabilities and Undevalued Business Platforms concepts target mainly large conglomerates. You have, for example, 25 or so not-necessarily related businesses, at some point in time you come to a standstill, hire new management, they initiate a turnaround program, chop off some business units, but discover a potential in one of those companies while chopping up and concentrate on this undervalued gem and turning it into big business. Remember Lou Gerstner and IBM's turnaround by focusing on their small Services Company? This is sheer nonsense. The author is Bain's strategy department's head but obviously and most probably because of working mainly with large conglomerates (typical clients) they lost vision of the real world. The world is full of smaller companies and hence advice related to conglomerates does not come very helpful. There are not many IBM's around.
4. This is not a good book on business model innovation. Actually it is not a good business book at all. It relies on a rather flimsy concept (hidden assets) which is formed by merging Slywotzky's 'intangible assets' and Hamel&Prahalad's 'core competence' concepts. The original concepts are much more powerful. The cases he gives are not enlightening. The way he explains the case examples is not good, and unsatisfactory. Each case example, for instance, cites a lot about market values, revenues, revenue growth etc. which is all publicly available information, but very little detail on how the company did what they did successfully. The methodolgy he proposes is unworkable.
5. I regret having read this book. It added NOTHING to my knowledge on business strategy and business model formulation. It only wasted my time. Comparing to what is available in today's writing on business model innovation, this book looks very very rudimentary. The following books are much much better and a lot more powerful then Unstoppable: Game-Changing Strategies by C. Markides; Business Model Generation (by Alexander Osterweld) and Seizing The White Space by Mark Johnson. Also, Adrian Slywotzky's book The Upside has a lot more insight on business model redefinition than this one, even though the objective of the book is 'managing strategic risks' and not business models. For customer insights, you can also look at the wonderful book by Ram Charan and A.G. Lafley, The Game-Changer.
Zook talks in depth about how enterprises can find source of growth from the core of their company either by finding hidden assets, customers or capabilities. The strength of this book is its detailed discussion of each of these sources of growth from the core and extending the core. Zook also provides detailed tools to help the reader apply these ideas to their company. This is particularly unique in a book that addresses issues of growth and growth strategy.
In some ways, Zook's book should be used as a companion to the book "BLUE OCEAN STRATEGY" which talks about identifying opportunities where there are no competitors. Used in combination, Blue Ocean will open up new possibilities, while Unstoppable will provide a way to execute on these opportunities and build off of your core to achieve them.
The book is clearly written with detailed case studies and verbatims form actual companies going through their growth processes. This is unique for any business book and Zook's use of extensive interview comments makes the book seem real and actionable rather than academic.
While Zook's book is well researched, there is a subtle and important bias in the research. Zook's results and statistics are largely based on analyzing projects that he and his company have conducted, rather than looking at the general marketplace. This is strength in that the book can talk about implementation details because they did the work. However, it is a subtle weakness in that the cases suffer from selection bias that has a tendency to color the results and conclusions. Zook's attention to detail, pragmatism, and exposing tools do compensate for this research weakness and for most it will not matter, but recognize that it is there.
Overall, I would recommend this book for any executive who is looking to change their enterprise or recognize the need to do more in order to grow. This is one of the top 10 business books I have read so far this year so highly recommended.