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May 25, 2003

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - What Really Works

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 4:11 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

What Really Works: The 4+2 Formula for Sustained Business Success by Nitin Nohria, William Joyce, and Bruce Roberson, HarperBusiness, 352 Pages, $26.95 Hardcover, May 2003, ISBN 0060512784
This book is the result of an extensive, thorough, and unique five-year study called the Evergreen Project in which the authors worked to find the fundamental practices that create sustained business success. Not an easy mission! After analyzing, interpreting, and organizing 10 years worth of data, they gave us the results in What Really Works. Of course, they also supply excellent hands-on information about how to become a winning company by using their 4+2 formula.
The authors found that there are eight management practices that directly correspond to superior corporate performance, as measured by TRS (total return to shareholder). The eight practices are divided into two groups: a primary and secondary. In the primary group are strategy, execution, culture, and structure. The secondary group is comprised of talent, leadership, innovation, and mergers/partnerships. A winning company achieves excellence in all four of the primary practices, and also two of the secondary practices. Thats where they get the 4+2 formula. Companies that maintain a high level of success in 4+2 management practices also maintain a high level of sustained business success. This simple equation sounds just thatsimple. However, as the authors show us, the simple equation is very hard to maintain!
The bulk of the book gives detailed descriptions and illustrations of winning and losing companies, in the contexts of the eight management practices. They show you what to do, and also what not to do. In the Meet a Winner chapter, we look at Dollar General and why they are a winner. In the Meet a Loser chapter, we look at why and how Kmart fell into bankruptcy. The rest of the chapters each focus on one of the eight management practices in extreme detail, using examples of that practice at work (or not at work) in companies like Campbell Soup, Home Depot, Nike, Target, and Polaroid.
I like this book because it is backed by such thorough research on the front end, and then goes on to show you exactly how you can implement the results of that study into your own companys management practices. What Really Works is not just another business bookit is a very important one with earth-shattering ideas and processes.

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.