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How do a few leading companies, such as P&G, Porsche, Wells Fargo, UPS and Schlumberger perpetually out-perform their peers?
How do they grow revenue and increase profitability, not only in the short run, but even across economic and market disruptions?
In Jumping the S-Curve, Paul Nunes and Tim Breene, leaders of the Accenture High Performance Business Research program, reveal how the best companies get to the top and stay there. Drawing on nearly a decade of research on thousands of companies from around the world, Nunes and Breene show that too many leaders manage their companies only to the visible S-curve of revenue growth in which a business starts out slowly, grows rapidly until it approaches market saturation, and then levels off. High performers, by contrast, actively manage to the cresting of three hidden S-curves that reach the end of their lives well before the company’s financial curve reaches its peak. By jumping these three-curves early, while the core business continues to thrive, companies lay the foundation for a successful leap to a new financial S-curve later—and for lasting greatness by executing a series of these moves.
Chapter One: High Performance: The Business of Jumping S-Curves: To climb an S-curve, a business must have the right foundation in place: the building blocks of high performance. Fail to create these bulwarks of success, and your performance will be on shaky ground. Develop them properly and you’ll have the solid base you need to succeed with a new business.
Chapter Two: A Big Enough Market Insight: To climb the financial S-curve and outperform competitors, a company can’t waste time and money on small or uncertain market opportunities. Instead, it must identify a “big enough market insight”—that is, a substantial market change on the horizon that heralds the chance to build a major business for the company that identifies and seizes the opportunity.
Chapter Three: Threshold Competence Before Scaling: High performers are rarely first to market. They build essential capabilities before scaling their operations and plan for success far upstream, often focusing on details such as production and channel strategy early on. The key: they understand exactly how they must be distinctive in order to create the value the market demands.
Chapter Four: Worthy of Serious Talent: High performers attract and keep the “serious talent” they need to create a successful business. These companies instill a mindset of relentless improvement throughout their workforce and gain the confidence of critical employees, whether they are far-sighted senior executives, never-say-die salespeople, or engineers with a flair for creative genius.
Chapter Five: Hidden S-Curves: To gauge how much time is left on the clock of a currently successful business, a company should look for signs of trouble in each of the building blocks it used to climb the S-curve.
Chapter Six: Edge-Centric Strategy: High performers have two processes for making strategy: one to drive the core business and the other to stay on top of market evolution.
Chapter Seven: Top Teams that Change Early: High performers realize that succession planning is not about replacing executives in an emergency. Top management teams need to evolve when the distinctiveness of the company’s capabilities begins to wane—not when business performance starts to plateau. High performance businesses reconstitute executive teams early and often, and groom new executive talent, to ensure that they have the right balance of managerial and entrepreneurial skill needed to the jump to the next S-curve.
Chapter Eight: Hothouse of Talent: Jumping an S-curve requires an excess of talent—something that goes against the grain of companies that are trying to be efficient keeping head-count lean while a business grows. High performers plant and nurture the seeds of talent that let them successfully jump to the next business S-curve.
Chapter Nine: Sharp Curves Ahead: A variety of major developments on the horizon—from cloud computing to digital marketing to business analytics—promise to disrupt businesses in the coming decade, challenging them yet again to scale and jump the S-curve of high performance. To jump to the next S-curve successfully, companies must know the likely future shape of their current one.
Paul F. Nunes is the executive director of Research at the Accenture Institute for High Performance. He is co-author of the award-winning book Mass Affluence: 7 New Rules of Marketing to Today’s Consumers (Harvard Business Press, 2004). His writings have appeared in numerous publications, including Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, Conference Board Review, Strategy and Leadership, Optimize, ComputerWorld and Wired. His research has also been featured in many news outlets, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, BusinessWeek.com, Forbes.com, the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune. He was recently awarded a US patent for his method of improving companies’ innovation processes. He lives near Boston. Tim Breene is CEO of Accenture Interactive, Accenture’s pioneering initiative to help companies navigate the transformation of marketing in the digital age. From 1999 through 2009, he served as a member of Accenture’s Executive Leadership Team in a variety of roles, including group chief executive of Management Consulting and chief strategy and corporate development officer. In a business career spanning almost 40 years, Breene also held senior leadership positions before joining Accenture in the retail, consumer goods, and advertising industries. His experience includes both senior line management roles and direct involvement in startups and acquisitions. He lives in a suburb of Boston.
Jumping the S-Curve is available to buy from selected retailers.Amazon.com Harvard Business Review.comBarnes and Noble800-CEO-Read
Reach for the next big thing, or die trying“It’s not just about ‘built to last,’” he says (Paul Nunes). “It’s extraordinarily hard to simply sustain a business. Growth is critical to acquire and maintain talent, and maintain minimum innovation to survive in a fast-paced world. Not going for growth is not a good strategy.” Lynn Greiner, Globe and Mail. Published Wednesday, Jun. 29, 2011Jumping the S-Curve in The European Business Review May/June 2011 [PDF, 220KB]A new derivative of Jumping the S-Curve book, a hit in The European Business Review. This article is almost an executive summary, only more interesting. Notice the opening reference to an iconic Japanese company which freshens the story.IT Management Slideshow: 11 Best Business Books for CIOs in 2011Do you need insight into how to foster innovation within your department? Do you know how to use “brainsteering” to address project tasks and overcome bottlenecks? Boost your leadership IQ with this and more.Business Extra: News in BriefCella Energy has been named the 2011 winner of the Shell Springboard Awards, which rewards small businesses that develop innovative ideas for combating climate change.How Companies Evolve Through CEO TransitionsMany companies believe being able to respond quickly to the loss of a key individual is what succession planning is all about; authors Paul Nunes and Tim Breene use Adobe and Intel to explore the right way for a company to transition from one CEO to another.Dare you quit on a crest of a wave?To survive in business you may have to jump while the going is good, argue authors Paul Nunes and Tim Breene, who warn success cannot be based on a chief executive's genius.Harvard Business Review: Reinvent Your Business Before It's Too LateFree online business articles and news at Harvard Business Review. Read a preview of Reinvent Your Business Before It's Too Late, by Paul Nunes and Tim Breene.The Holy Grail of Growth: An HBR Ideacast with Paul NunesBusiness bloggers at Harvard Business Review discuss a variety of business topics including managing people, innovation, leadership, and more.
November 16, 2010
Have a look at this video TWIB: How to stay ahead in the recession:
Paul Nunes and Tim Breene interview, NECN’s This Week in Business on the evolutionary cycle of businesses in today’s world and the implications for local companies.
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