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Discovery-Driven Growth: A Breakthrough Process to Reduce Risk and Seize Opportunity Hardcover – March 16, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Rita Gunther McGrath is Associate Professor of Management at Columbia Business School. Ian C. MacMillan is the Dhirubhai Ambani Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. They are coauthors of MarketBusters and The Entrepreneurial Mindset.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (February 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591396859
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591396857
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #133,114 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Groen VINE VOICE on June 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very enlightening book that builds on the authors' HBR article of July-August, 1995 called Discovery-driven planning. Instead of the typical approach for evaluating innovative projects of complex, risk adjusted financials, that results in analysis paralysis, and reduces judgement, the authors suggest an innovative approach that focuses more on the assumptions and generates the results by backing into the financial justification with reverse financials. The assumptions based planning approach is very rich and powerful, and having used it myself a number of times with teams, I can tell you that it results in a very motivated team developed plan and business case. Then, instead of using the potentially bureaucratic "stage-gate" processes for governing execution that are in place today in most companies (but often don't work well with highly uncertain projects, by the way, due more to the mechanics than the process), they recommend an assumptions driven conversation based upon the completion of deliverables (of course, this could work with stage-gates but not the way that these are typically used today). The whole approach, I think, can be highly liberating for organizations today that are trying to get more collaborative and enabling. At the end of the book, through their experiences, they recommend approaches to getting the discovery driven approaches implemented. Consequently, I highly recommend this book for any innovation champion who wants to work on eliminating the burden that they feel in trying to get things done. I can't wait to use these tools myself.
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Format: Hardcover
In my former role as Air Products and Chemicals Director of New Business Development, I was responsible for finding and implementing the very best tools for innovation that we could find to grow the company. Discovery Driven Planning has since been at the core of our successful efforts to incubate new businesses and innovate, while containing risks. Our Chief Financial Officer at Air Products is a huge fan of the technique, because for the first time he's found a solution to either constraining innovation projects with planning methodologies that aren't appropriate for high-uncertainty ventures, or letting projects go forward without discipline. The approach has been used in our company to test ideas for new technologies, to plan our entry into new markets and to decide when a project needs to be redirected, or even shut down. It has saved us hundreds of thousands of dollars by helping detect issues early and take corrective action before the big, expensive investments have been made.

The book, Discovery Driven Growth, distills the lessons McGrath and MacMillan have learned working with dozens of companies like ours into a practical, useful and easy to follow bible for organizations intent on driving growth and renewal, but reluctant to take on big risks in doing so. Our experiences are described in the book, as are applications of the book in companies as diverse as Nokia, Microsoft, IBM and small entrepreneurial ventures. One of the things I like best about the book is that it operates at both the strategic level and the level of individual initiatives. As a CEO or senior team member, you can use its concepts to think through the broader questions of strategic direction and portfolio resource allocation that must be determined at the top of the organization.
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Format: Hardcover
In the first chapter, Rita Gunther McGrath and Ian MacMillan explain that their core thesis is that companies that use conventional methodologies to pursue exceptional growth will simply not be able to accomplish growth that allows them to break out of the pack and deliver exceptional results." If so, what do they recommend? What they call "discovery-driven planning" that will guide and inform the introduction of new growth initiatives (e.g. businesses, products, services, franchises, strategic alliances, and even potential mergers and acquisitions). "Through discovery-driven planning (DDP)," McGrath and MacMillan point out, "organizations set up bold plans to pursue futures they frame, to learn where their futures lie, and to test their assumptions about those futures at the lowest possible cost."

Readers will especially appreciate McGrath and MacMillan's brilliant use of reader-friendly devices, including self-diagnostics, check-lists, figures, and tables, to identify key points. For example, a "Simple quiz to find your openness to discovery-driven growth " (Table 1-1,Page 9), several processes that can help executives to plan their firms' growth during the first steps of DDP (Pages 11-13), and "Conventional versus discovery-driven growth" (Table 1-2, Page 13) in Chapter One. McGrath and MacMillan make equally effective use of BioBarrier, a disguised version of a corporate growth project at a major corporation that illustrates both the perils and the possibilities of DDP.
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