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Jumping the S-Curve: How to Beat the Growth Cycle, Get on Top, and Stay There Hardcover – February 24, 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (February 24, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422175588
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422175583
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,004,174 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Jumping the S-Curve presents a nice overview of top performing companies and reminds product development practitioners of the keys to success in marketing, technology, and teams. Especially recommended for senior management who are currently riding the S-curve of financial growth, this book can help firms plan for a more innovative future.” — Journal of Product Innovation Management

“… For organizations of all types and sizes that face the challenge of sustaining growth and relevance and avoiding stagnation, this accessible book offers an invaluable guide. Supported by research data, illustrated with numerous case studies, and infused with powerful personal insights it is highly recommended…” — IEDP.com (International Executive Development Programs)

“… The book spectacularly trashes many management myths, from the over-dependence on scale as a means to growth to choosing between high growth and high profit to even that old bromide about delayed gratification after years of effort. Stimulating and full of practical advice and cases, Jumping the S-Curve, should be mandatory reading for all business executives. My recommendation: Get a copy for yourself and present one to your CEO…” — CIO India

"…This is an excellent training manual for leaders of both large and small companies..." — Fort Worth Star Telegram

Jumping the S-Curve addresses all the challenges corporations face in sustaining a growth trajectory. It provides a comprehensive toolkit to help you keep your business from stagnating.” — Tom Stemberg, Managing General Partner, Highland Consumer Fund, and Chairman Emeritus and Founder of Staples, Inc.

“The cycle of a winning business idea powering a business to dominate its peers followed by peaking as the model is eroded by a new idea appears near universal. The book analyzes thoroughly, with numerous examples from Accenture research, how great companies have replicated their performance over multiple cycles, replacing themselves rather than being replaced by others.” — Mark Moody-Stuart, former Chairman, Anglo American plc

“The book debunks many management myths, most notably the obsession with scale as panacea for sustainable growth. Instead, it urges companies to jump from one growth curve to another for sustained value creation… Practical, granular, stimulating, and replete with real cases of high performers.” — R. Gopalakrishnan, Executive Director, Tata Sons

“Few books do for managers what Jumping the S-Curve does: it provides a data-driven and context-rich analysis of what high-performing companies do to stay high performers even as their markets inevitably change, new capabilities are required, and profitable growth remains important.” — Frank V. Cespedes, senior lecturer, Harvard Business School

“Whether the practice is in government, private, or nonprofit, the principles remain the same. These are powerful ideas based on research and informed, reflective thinking supported by data and personal insights. Jumping the S-Curve is a very important book for leaders committed to operating on the cutting edge of excellence. A good book.” — Gordon R. Sullivan, General, U.S. Army (retired), and former Chief of Staff, U.S. Army

“This book provides organizations ways and means to stay ahead. It lends insight into the various stages of business growth and the actions that need be taken at various stages to remain on top. The authors conclude that high performance is about outperforming rivals again and again, even as the basis of competition in an industry or market changes. These will be possible only if an organization keeps a tab on understanding the hidden S-curves namely of competition, capability and talent, while avoiding knee-jerk reactions like retrenchment and belt tightening, which erode the chance for a recovery.” — Vinod Sivarama Krishnan, CIO-Global of Jubiliant Life Sciences

About the Author

Paul Nunes is the Executive Director of Research and an executive research fellow in the Accenture Institute for High Performance Business. He is the coauthor the award-winning book Mass Affluence and nearly 100 articles in academic and business publications. Tim Breene is Accenture’s former Chief Strategy and Development Officer and current head of the company’s digital marketing initiative. Breene and Nunes coauthored the Harvard Business Review article “The Chief Strategy Officer.”

More About the Author

Paul Nunes is a consummate student and thought-leader of high performance business. His research in high performance business has helped shape Accenture's strategic vision as well as its critical imperatives for change for well over a decade. He currently serves as the Executive Director of Research of the company's global think and act tank, the Accenture Institute for High Performance. His leading edge ideas and business insights have resulted in scores of articles and book chapters on marketing and business strategy, which have been featured in top publications like Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, Fast Company, Conference Board Review, and Wired among many others, as well as many of the world's top newspapers and magazines.

In addition to coauthoring the award-winning book MASS AFFLUENCE: 7 New Rules of Marketing to Today's Consumers, Paul has recently coauthored JUMPING THE S-CURVE: How to Beat the Growth Cycle, Get on Top and Stay There. JUMPING THE S-CURVE, the culmination of over a decade of Accenture research on high performance business, shows how companies can avoid fatal growth stall and thrive by leaping from one successful business to another.

Paul's foray into the shifting landscape of high performance business began with his education at Northwestern University, where he earned both his Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and his Master of Science degree from the Kellogg School of Management. Since joining the company in 1986, he has also directed research for Accenture's Technology Assessment Group, a think tank aimed at forecasting elements of IT evolution most relevant for business, and has led a global technology support group before helping found the Accenture Institute for High Performance. His research has earned him numerous invitations to speak at top business schools (including Harvard, MIT Sloan, Wharton, Dartmouth, and INSEAD), a trusteeship of the Marketing Science Institute, and a U.S. patent for his method of improving companies' innovation processes. His work on Accenture's High Performance Business marketing campaign received the 2006 Bronze Anvil award from the Public Relations Society of America.

Paul writes and consults, and works on his recent passion of piano playing, from his adopted home city of Boston.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Read this very sensible book.
Brad Stackhouse, CEO, SGA Inc.
I highly recommend this book to anyone building a new company or looking to jump the S-Curve in a maturing business.
Bob Ghafouri
The book makes extensive use of about a dozen case studies and more than twenty other examples.
Mark P. McDonald

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mark P. McDonald VINE VOICE on January 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The S-Curve concept is central in business strategy and often used as a way to describe leaps between classes of technology. Its concept is simple: new things start out slow, and then scale rapidly, the taper off with each action defining the bottom (incubation), middle (growth), and top (stabilization to trailing off) parts of a market.

The idea behind the S-Curve is not new, but Nunes and Breene take this simple model and use it as a way to explain the complexities of high performing companies. The result is a book that is has deep and provocative ideas blended with many examples to influence the way you think about your business, what you are doing and where you may need to change.

The book is more description than prescription. This is refreshing after many books that claim a single path to success, particularly those offered by consultants. Both Nunes and Breene are executives at Accenture but manage to provide a solid business book rather than a 200 page marketing brochure. This is a welcome addition to strategy and management thinking.

This is a book aims to shape senior executive thinking so rather than telling the reader what to do, they encourage the reader to think and then act on that thinking. The audience knows that while there are patterns of success every company achieves and sustains success in their own context.

The core of the book, and its big idea, is to recognize that there are really three S-curves facing any company. The financial S-Curve that describes how a company makes money. The distinctive capability S-Cure is the second curve. It describes the combination of your product/offerings, processes, technologies etc. The talent S-Curve is the third curve describing the pipeline of leaders.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bob Ghafouri on March 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover
As a former CEO, I found jumping the S-curve to be an essential read for leaders expected to deliver long term earnings growth and greater shareholder value while dealing with all of the challenges associated with increased competition, pricing pressures, lack of good talent, maturing markets and a rapidly changing business environment.

Breene and Nunes do a great job setting the stage, drawing on years of Accenture research to define the essentials of a high performance business and the building blocks of climbing an S-curve (business maturity cycle) using a number of very relevant examples.

They explain in careful detail the bigger hurdle of replicating the S-curve over and over to create long term value for shareholders. I found their explanation of the visible financial indicator of an S-Curve and the three hidden S-Curves (serious talent, distinctive capabilities, superior market focus) to be of greatest interest mainly because I ran into each as a CEO and didn't fully understand the correlation or impact each could potentially have on my business until reading this book.

Even more valuable to me was the importance of continuously generating ideas across the organization and creating a new business generation factory that filters out bad ideas and transforms good ones into future S-Curves for the company.

I highly recommend this book to anyone building a new company or looking to jump the S-Curve in a maturing business. I am already recommending it to my friends and implementing its principles in my business.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John Gibbs TOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 27, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Company performance typically follows a predictable S-Curve trajectory, starting slowly, then accelerating rapidly, and then tapering off. Most companies then fade into oblivion, but high performance companies manage to jump from one S-curve to another, according to Paul Nunes and Tim Breen in this book. The book is based on research by Accenture on more than 800 companies, approximately 10% of which were identified as high performance companies based on a range of financial metrics.

The authors' research revealed a number of surprising results, including:

* High performance is still possible in a highly competitive or mature market.
* Being the biggest is not a requirement for high performance.
* It is possible to have high growth and high profits at the same time.

So how do you find an S-Curve and jump onto it? To climb a curve, you must first identify a Big Enough Market Insight, which has potential to bring significant financial rewards. Next, you must develop a threshold competence, which is sufficient to get customers to purchase the new product or service. Next, operations must be expanded to a substantial scale quickly enough to pre-empt competitors.

To jump from one S-Curve to the next, you must monitor the market relevance of your offering (which declines before profits do), have your most talented employees focused on the next big thing, and grow a reserve of talent ready for the next big expansion.

The authors' methodology has some similarities to that of Jim Collins, and they refer to his work in
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