Customer Reviews


16 Reviews
5 star:
 (7)
4 star:
 (8)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Focus, Quality, Customer, Value, Global - Learn from the world
One of my learning goals for the past few years has been to get a deeper understanding of successful businesses from around the world and to see what I can learn from these companies that I can apply to my own companies. Something of a nomad in my youth, I first engaged in business while living in Japan, so my early models of successful businesses were all Japanese. But I...
Published on November 20, 2009 by Steven Forth

versus
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Let down
I had read several positive reviews on this book and was really looking forward to its arrival. Unfortunately it didn't live up to my expectations at all. Essentially it was just a collection of facts and surveys presented in graphical and then written form (no analysis, just restating the results). I found it terribly dry and, from what I could tell, had no original...
Published on August 31, 2012 by Graham


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Focus, Quality, Customer, Value, Global - Learn from the world, November 20, 2009
By 
Steven Forth (Vancouver BC or Cambridge MA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Hidden Champions of the Twenty-First Century: The Success Strategies of Unknown World Market Leaders (Hardcover)
One of my learning goals for the past few years has been to get a deeper understanding of successful businesses from around the world and to see what I can learn from these companies that I can apply to my own companies. Something of a nomad in my youth, I first engaged in business while living in Japan, so my early models of successful businesses were all Japanese. But I moved back to North America more than 20 years ago and for the past three-years I have worked at a leading strategy consulting firm in Cambridge MA. Working at this company I realized that American models, frameworks and assumptions guided most of the work on business models and practices and that it takes a conscious effort to seek out models from other countries. This was the context for my decision to read Hermann Simon's book.

I was richly rewarded. Dr. Simon provides a distinctly German perspective on what makes for a successful company, and he does this by studying what he calls "hidden champions", relatively small companies (say $250 million to $4 billion in revenues) that dominate their markets globally. Many of these companies come from Northern Europe where they leverage deep traditions of superb engineering, but there are examples from around the world. These companies seem to share some common characteristics: a narrow focus on a global market, technical leadership, close customer relationships, quality and value leadership (not the same thing as price leadership), strong internal cultures, long-term orientation. I personally was only aware of about 20% of the companies he discusses, and reading this book introduced me to many gems that are doing very interesting things: fabric company JAB Anstoetz (several members of my family are textile geeks so this was a good one for me), the lightening company Zumtobel, Burton Snowboards (OK, I know lots of people that ride the boards, but I knew little about the company), Enercon in wind energy (surprised I did not know this company), Givaudan and Fermenich in scents ... there are many fascinating companies discussed in this book.

As I grow my own company (we are less than a year old as I write this) I will put in practice many of the ideas in this book: define a narrow market that we will grow and dominate, stay close to customers, go global early, strive for value leadership (value being the differentiated economic benefit we bring our customers), and build a strong company culture.

If you are looking for a tonic to the stream of US-centric management books, this is an excellent place to begin.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You won't learn this stuff in business school, November 2, 2009
This review is from: Hidden Champions of the Twenty-First Century: The Success Strategies of Unknown World Market Leaders (Hardcover)
Meticulously researched and lucidly presented, Hermann Simon's latest builds on and extends his previous body of work to uncover and explore demonstrably successful management practices that allow companies of all shapes, sizes, geographies and industries to rise above their peers. This is a fascinating read for managers, consultants, MBA students and anyone else with an interest in business theory or history.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read with great insights, September 15, 2009
This review is from: Hidden Champions of the Twenty-First Century: The Success Strategies of Unknown World Market Leaders (Hardcover)
Hermann Simon's new book on "Hidden Champions of the 21st Century" is a truly fascinating account of how some relatively unknown companies have managed to become world market leaders while defying many of the rules and principles that large corporations live by. The corporate world can learn a great deal from these examples of global entrepreneurial leadership. The book is a must for anyone who is trying to gain an edge over competition. The style of the book is also great fun, it's simply a highly enjoyable read and in my mind comparable to other business best sellers such as "Built to Last" or "Blue Ocean Strategy".
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A systematic and insightful analysis, November 25, 2009
This review is from: Hidden Champions of the Twenty-First Century: The Success Strategies of Unknown World Market Leaders (Hardcover)
Hermann Simon dissects in "Hidden Champions" the strategies, operations, and leadership of some of the world's most successful companies-- the majority of which are likely unknown to most readers. Meticulous in his analysis, Simon's presentation is marked by clarity and order. "Hidden Champions" would be an eye-opener for academics and business leaders, and a stimulating foray into business analysis for students, consultants, and other stakeholders with an interest in the field.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Read, especially in today's global economy, November 16, 2009
This review is from: Hidden Champions of the Twenty-First Century: The Success Strategies of Unknown World Market Leaders (Hardcover)
This book really is a good read if you're interested in books like "Good to Great" or "Crossing the Chasm". It's another way of looking at how some companies are extremely successful, while other flounder in today's globalized economy. If you're managing your own business, a senior leader of a public company, or interested in starting your own business in the future, I would highly recommend this book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, November 16, 2009
This review is from: Hidden Champions of the Twenty-First Century: The Success Strategies of Unknown World Market Leaders (Hardcover)
Hidden Champions, which are companies like Bobcat, play a key role in our flat, i.e., globalized world. The are market leaders, innovators, employers. Simon explores and studies hidden champions, which drive innovation and represent the reliable core of our economies.
The book is an excellent study, entertaining to read and great introduction to anybody in industry and/or academia.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A different world, October 15, 2010
By 
S. Reynolds (Washington state, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hidden Champions of the Twenty-First Century: The Success Strategies of Unknown World Market Leaders (Hardcover)
I don't believe I've ever read a technical business book like this before. The closest I have probably ever come to that are pop bestsellers such as Who Moved My Cheese and The One Minute Manager - both of which I read and enjoyed ~10 years ago.

Hidden Champions is in a completely different league: a scholarly book, filled with unfamiliar terms and concepts ("value extraction"; "vertical integration"). It is not "fun" to read and would never top the best-seller list. It surely is a reference or textbook, or intended for those in upper-level management. Quite a bit flew over my head as I have neither the business experience nor the educational background (MBA) to fully appreciate the complex discussions. However, portions were quite readable, and Simon did an excellent job of distilling his case studies of "hidden champions" into fairly concise precepts. I was struck by how many of the "hidden champions" I was already familiar with even though Simon warned that very few of the companies were well-known outside their particular industry...and even "secretive." As a climber, Petzl technical climbing equipment was the company, understandably, that I enjoyed reading about the most.

Part of the value of this book for me was opening a different world, one I've never known before - that of business theory and implementation. Even though I could not appreciate it fully, I found that other culture interesting.

~Sharon

Advance Review Copy provided courtesy of the publisher.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Become a supernichist, July 31, 2014
This review is from: Hidden Champions of the Twenty-First Century: The Success Strategies of Unknown World Market Leaders (Hardcover)
Hidden Champions of the Twenty-First Century: The Success Strategies of Unknown World Market Leaders by Herman Simon

What do Baader, 3B scientific, McIlhenny, International SOS, Hoganas, Tetra, Bobcat, Gallagher, Seas Getter, Hamamatsu,Arnold and Richter, Petzl, Lantal, Tandberg, WET, De La Rye, Belfor, Ulvac, Orica, CEAG, Gartner, Zimmer, Technogym, Gerriet,Embrear, OC Tanner, Klias, Electro-Nite, Sappi, Essel Propack, Plansee, Dickson, Molex, Jungbunzlauer, Nivarox, SGS, Brainlab, Delo, Enercon, Omicon, Beluga, Nissha, Amorim, Jamba, Netjets and EOS have in common?

They are all companies you probably have never heard off, who have global market shares of over 50% and have been around for a long time. Hermann Simon calls them hidden champions.

The book is the German version of “In search of excellence”. With a number of lessons we all should pay attention to. Particularly owner managers of medium sized businesses.

What can we learn?

Supernichists

They are all extremely niche focusses and have embedded themselves in the value chain of their clients and are the undisputed market leaders in their niche. They usually focus on narrow, small markets. And become the best in that market. Making them he market leader. The claim to market leadership is not confined to market share alone, but includes performance attributes such as technology, innovation, quality, and reputation. Their tactic is to dominate our market niches by transforming general markets in which they are a nobody into market niches where they are somebody! They are supernichists.

What do they do

They are mostly family businesses. They are based in rural communities. They have a long term perspective. They have CEOs that have been there for over 25 years. The CEO is most likely to be the owner. They are very customer focussed. They are global. They look after their staff extremely well. They invest in training.They invest in innovation. They are ambitious, have vision and set themselves long term, some times generational stretch goals. They stick to what they do best. And most of all they all deliver superior quality.

Extreme segmentation

They refuse to employ customary or traditional market definitions. Instead they define their markets in autonomous and innovative ways and it becomes part of their strategy definition. Not “washing machines”, but “washing machines for quality linen, for the restaurants in 5 star hotels only”. Extreme market segmentation if you like. Which means that they are also very, very close to their customers

They have grown by going global

All of the companies have an international focus. They on average 24 subsidiaries in other countries, a surprisingly large number for midsize companies. They are all in China and have been for a long time. The triad they focus on is China, Russia, India. They know that Japan is a source of innovation (“What happens in Tokyo today happens in the rest of the world tomorrow”), but is not their focus yet. All their managers speak at least 3 languages in the company, and increasingly the staff reflects the diversity of their client base. This as part of getting as close as possible to their customers.

Selling versus marketing

Approximately 70% of the hidden champions only sell directly and maintain intensive, lasting relationships with their customers and enter into a long-term commitment with the supplier. They don’t have marketing departments or marketing titles. They have 5 times more contact with regular contacts then “normal” business. As a result, they have extremely close relationships with their customers, embedded in the value chain of the customer, nearly symbiotic. With emphasis on high performance rather than at low price. They offer complex product and service programs, more often systems solutions. Such programs cannot be sold off the peg, but require detailed consultation processes. They brand themselves by high visibility projects in the niche, focus on being know by the people that matter and the message is simple. Being the best, the number one, the market leader, are excellent communication messages both for the market and for the employees. The statement: “We are number one” is clear and comprehensible for everyone.

Innovation is key

They spend double the average spend on R+D. With a higher emphasis on process innovation, but also in distribution, pricing, design and sometimes technology and patents. If they go for patents, their patent intensity is 5 times higher! Because they involve staff in vision, values and strategy, innovation is easier. With active involvement of the management team, who are invariable domain experts themselves. And of course they involve their customers in the innovation process. The main focus is on ongoing improvement versus breakthrough innovations. Even many technical breakthroughs were the result of a development policy of small steps.

Simple organisation

The typical hidden champion is a one-product, one-market company with limited organisational complexity. The top management of the hidden champions is very lean. They manage their global businesses with the aid of network organisations that make use of the latest information technology to the greatest possible extent. The hidden champions prefer to promote their leaders from within and have a long term view. The hidden champions have high-performance cultures and are intolerant of shirkers. Shirkers get fired. If you stay, you stay for a long time. The average length of service is 37 years. Which allows the organisation to retain a lot of the knowledge and expertise. Employee loyalty, training, motivation and flexibility are seen as pronounced competitive strengths by the management team. They always have more work than people, which develops a high performance culture. The high performance culture is achieved through the formation of small units that make the performance of individual employees transparent. The hidden champions are enthusiastic decentralises and rely less on formal systems and key figures when it comes to mobilising employees’ creativity.

In core competencies, the hidden champions continue to favour high vertical integration and avoid outsourcing. Hey strongly outsource noncore competencies. They prefer to go it alone and have an aversion to strategic alliances.

KEY LESSONS

.Willpower and goals always come first. Leadership means inspiring employees from all over the world to be the best, to become a world market leader.
Ambitious goals can only be achieved by focusing one’s resources. The definition of the playing field itself is an essential means of getting the focus right
High performance requires intolerance against shirking and swift dismissal of employees who do not pull their weigh
Uniqueness can only come from within and cannot be bought on the market. It therefore requires depth and a certain reserve toward outsourcing.
Decentralisation is the most effective way to retain the strengths of the hidden champions, even in larger and more complex structures. Decentralisation should be put into practice wherever possible.
Globalisation opens up unprecedented growth opportunities, even for small companies. In order to use these opportunities, leaders and employees must put aside their national and cultural boundaries. Incessant stamina and perseverance are required to survive the multigenerational globalisation process. The greatest challenge is the internationalisation of the people.
Innovation is the only effective long-term means of succeeding in competition. Innovation is primarily a question of creativity and quality, less so a matter of money.
Closeness to customer almost automatically creates competitive advantages. Top customers, like top competitors, should be employed systematically as drivers of performance.
Other lessons:

Thinking in generations instead of over a short period of time, (e.g., three, five, or ten years as is common in strategic planning);
Maintaining high continuity in top management;
Resisting management fads, and observing timeless maxims instead;
Fostering the loyalty of the employees and the entrepreneur’s reciprocally high responsibility
Simplicity
The condition “more work than people” also favours simplicity. Parkinson’s law that employees invent the work which keeps them busy doesn’t stand a chance.
You can do it

The end of the book is brilliant. The message is simple, you can do it too. Hidden champions teach us that instead of managing only one great thing brilliantly, good management means doing many small things better than the competitors. The sum of many small advantages ultimately leads to success. Genius is not required. To become a hidden champion, we must do many small things a little better in a targeted and consistent way and with stamina.

Focus, clear and specific market definition, extreme customer care and focus, high quality, high performance and a long term perspective are all you need.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars The German version of Jim Collins's "Good to great", October 19, 2014
By 
Jackal (New Hampshire) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hidden Champions of the Twenty-First Century: The Success Strategies of Unknown World Market Leaders (Hardcover)
The author coined the term hidden champion some 20 years back. It is market leading medium sized company that most people have not heard of.The author has a database of some 2000 such companies, half of them coming from Germanic countries. The book is based on a survey and the author's consulting experience. The latter is important because the response rate in the survey was only 14%.

Nevertheless, the author is able to show that these companies have a future. And that many American companies have joined the ranks of hidden champion compared to 20 years ago. The book is similar to Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't, but it is slightly more academic. Or I should say more German. If you are familiar you German authors you know that they are generally more numbers oriented than American authors.

Is there anything really novel in this book? I would say no. It is very much aligned with Michael Porter's ideas in strategy. Still, it is well put together and fairly thoughtful. If I offer critique, I would say that the author is too close to the dataset. He does not try to generalise much around his findings. Instead he is too much in awe of Michael Porter.

This book contains a lot of role models for middle sized companies that would like to grow. So the core reader should be thoughtful top managers in such companies. It is important for these companies to have unique strategies. This books gives them more comfort in going their own way.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Hard going but getting there, February 2, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Hidden Champions of the Twenty-First Century: The Success Strategies of Unknown World Market Leaders (Hardcover)
Not a page turner, 1/2 way through it and have easily decided to see it through. Lots of information and proof (as the second in this series) that his opinions and judgements about these Leaders were true.
He reviews big money companies here - the trick to liking this book as seeing your own business in that sphere!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Hidden Champions of the Twenty-First Century: The Success Strategies of Unknown World Market Leaders
$34.95 $25.68
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.