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November 10, 2005

Excerpts: Big Winners And Big Losers - Discipline and Focus Based Strategy Books

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 7:19 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

This table is from Appendix A of Big Winners and Big Losers by Alfred Marcus. The bestsellers listed in this table focus on the importance of agility in business strategy.

BookMain Argument About DisciplineMain Argument About Discipline
Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan, Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done
  • Discipline is integral to strategy execution.
  • Getting the job done is critical.
  • Make sure operations people understand the plans.
  • Link people,strategy,and operations in a systematic process.
  • Tenaciously follow through.
  • Hold people accountable.
  • Reward performers.
  • Get rid of or help nonperformers.
  • Continuously close the gap between results promised and delivered.
  • Stay close to customers.
James Collins, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... And Other's Don't
  • Develop a culture of discipline.
  • Show a fanatical dedication and passion to be the best in the world.
  • Core ideology (principles) should never be jettisoned in the interests of expediency or in times of stress.
  • Straightforward economic metrics like revenue per employee or cost per store should be used.
  • Self-effacing leaders outperform flamboyant ones.
  • Focus on what drives the economic engine.
  • Do not permit wavering or wandering.
  • Be a hedgehoggo for depth rather than breadth.
  • Do what you can do best, not what you want to do.
  • Make continuous improvements that are evolutionary and not revolutionary in nature.
  • Those who launch radical change programs and wrenching restruc- turings almost certainly fail.
Robert Kaplan and David Norton, The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action
  • Communicate clearly and consistently.
  • Tie strategy to implementation.
  • Link performance and incentives to outcomes.
  • Execute by connecting goals to resources.
  • Motivate employees to follow company plans.
  • "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it.
  • "To develop advantage, deepen a firm's ties with its current customers.
Donald Mitchell, The Ultimate Competitive Advantage: Secrets of Continually Developing a More Profitable Business Model
  • Never let up.
  • Create a stronghold that prevents entry by competitors.
  • Outsource to be more focused on profitable endeavors.
  • Increase customer intimacy to understand customer needs and wants.
  • Customize offerings to make them more closely match customer needs.
  • Minimize or eliminate unnecessary costs that burden the customer.
  • Modify pricing or pricing perceptions to increase profitability.
  • Add benefits to the customer's to whom your customers sell.
  • Add benefits by working with your customers partners and suppliers.
  • Continually refine and reinvent your firm's business model.
Nitin Nohria, William Joyce, and Bruce Roberson, What Really Works: The 4+2 Formula for Sustained Business Success
  • Clearly communicate the firm's strategy.
  • Develop and maintain flawless execution.
  • Support high performance metrics.
  • Simplify the work to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy.
  • Deliver precisely what customers want.
  • Continually improve the firm's productivity.
  • Keep leaders and directors highly committed to the firm and its goals.
  • Devise and maintain a focused strategy.
  • Keep growing the core business.
  • Build business around a clear value proposition for customers.
  • Base strategy upon what customers, partners, and investors want.
  • Fine-tune the strategy to changes in the marketplace.
  • Only innovate if you're absolutely certain of industry disruption.
  • In general, beware of the unfamiliar;stick to the knitting.
C.K.Prahalad and Venkat Ramaswany, The Future of Competition: Co-Creating Unique Value with Customers
  • Allow customers to design their own individualized products.
  • Facilitate shift to experience environments.
  • Deliver value to customers through personalized interaction (cocreation).
  • Dialogue with customers to get insights into their mindset about product risks and benefits.
  • Make customers part of the corporate competence base.
  • Build customer satisfaction and trust.
  • Endeavor to create a unique customer experience across multiple channels and transactions.
Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersman, The Discipline of Market Leaders: Choose Your Customers, Narrow Your Focus, Dominate Your Market
  • Pursue three value disciplines--operational excellence, product leadership, and customer intimacy.
  • Obsolete your own products before competitors.
  • Do not cater to a wide market.
  • Cater to specific customers whose desires you know well and with whom you have a trusting relationship.
  • Be intimate with a select group of customers.
  • Focus on no-frills products when demand is huge and customers care more about price than choice.
  • Focus on best-performing products when you have ideas for highly desirable, previously unknown products.
Michael Treacy, Double Digit Growth: How Great Companies Achieve It No Matter What
  • Commit to a conscious, managed set of strategies.
  • Commit to superior value.
  • Use gross profits as the measure of value creation for customers.
  • Leverage existing advantage.
  • Take small bites.
  • Spread your risk with a portfolio of small initiatives.
  • Derive growth from steady, one-step-at-a-time progress rather than high-risk, bet-the-company transformation.
  • Retain your existing customer base; sell more to that base because it's harder to acquire a new base.
  • Don't drift too far outside your area of expertise; expand mainly in adjacent markets.
Chris Zook, Profit from the Core: Growth Strategy in an Era of Turbulence
  • Build market power in a well- defined core.
  • Don't leave your core unprotected.
  • Do not make errors.
  • Systematically block competitors.
  • Keep costs low for the benefit of customers.
  • From focus comes growth.
  • By narrowing your scope, create expansion.
  • A well-defined core business is key to competitive advantage.
  • Realize the full potential of your core by moving with caution to businesses that are only adjacent to your core.
  • Avoid misadventures of growth.
  • Only expand or redefine your core when you're forced to in times of extreme turbulence.
Chris Zook, Beyond the Core: Expand Your Market Without Abandoning Your Roots
  • Employ methods to tilt odds inyour companys favor and control the cost of failure.
  • Identify "adjacencies" in which you're already participating and assess how you're doing (market share, profitability, investment).
  • Identify adjacencies close by that you are considering or that you might have rejected.
  • Identify other adjacencies that might seem promising because competitors or new entrants are moving to these spaces or because technology or other factors have opened them up.
  • Put together combinations of "adjacency moves" into areas related to your core, such as new product lines or new channels of distribution.
  • Keeps risk down; by moving in well-trod paths close to your core business, there is less risk than by expanding using other growth methods.
  • Competitive advantage comes from what the firm already knows and does best.
  • Push boundaries, but just of your core business.
  • Make small improvements in these dimensions.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.