How to Grow When Markets Don’t

In this shrewdly titled volume for today’s tough economy, global strategy consultants Slywotsky (The Art of Profitability) and Wise analyze companies in mature markets that have managed to achieve significant growth without venturing outside their industry, manipulating their financial statements or acquiring dot-coms. Their chief insight is that established companies with experience in their field have, aside from their core business, a wealth of hidden assets-customer contacts, technical expertise, efficient business models-that they can exploit to grow new businesses. Take John Deere, which studied the growth in home ownership (and consequently in the residential landscaping market) and decided to graft its trusted brand name and expertise in agricultural equipment onto a significant growth market. Clarke American took an apparently waning business-check printing-and morphed it into a customer services firm for large banks. By building on intangible assets like brand recognition, knowledge of the customer and distribution channels, these companies transformed themselves into growth centers for new products and services. The authors gloss over many of the problems that hamper blue chip companies seeking growth, however-e.g., market attrition, declining cash flow, recalcitrant middle managers and stodgy tradition-and fail to note that many of the corporations they cite here fall into current growth industries like personal banking, health care and home ownership. Nevertheless, the book does take an imaginative look at the possibilities open to mature companies looking to rejuvenate themselves.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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