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Let Go To Grow: Escaping the Commodity Trap Hardcover – December 22, 2005


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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Praise for Let Go To Grow

"Over the next ten years large companies will be hit with a wide array of harrowing new business challenges—commoditization being at the top of that list.

Let Go To Grow elegantly outlines the critical new innovation, standardization, and globalization strategies that corporations can use to hurdle these obstacles and thrive in the coming years."

—George F. Colony, CEO, Forrester Research, Inc.

"This is a very important book for CEOs and top executives who are facing brutal, global competitive pressures, which is probably a majority. Let Go To Grow describes a strategy that will allow you as a business leader to do what you do best, while sidestepping the commoditization that's driving down profit margins in so many businesses. This book reflects not only what IBM is thinking, but also what other companies ranging from Dell to FedEx to Wal-Mart are doing to win in extremely competitive markets. Read this book for practical real-world insights, not for any academic theories."

—William J. Holstein, Editor-in-Chief, Chief Executive magazine

"Let Go To Grow is a must-read for executives who are trying to use strategy and management practices to drive innovation and productivity gains. It puts concepts like componentization, outsourcing, and off-shoring in a much more strategic context than anything else I've read. The book clearly shows how winning companies have gone from optimizing value chains to managing global "value webs" for competitive advantage. The argument is enhanced significantly by specific practical case examples featuring leading companies like Dell, eBay, GE, Procter & Gamble, and Toyota."

—Tony Friscia, President and CEO, AMR Research

"Sanford and Taylor carefully analyze the global marketplace and offer a progressive new strategy for transforming an underperforming business...A pioneering blueprint for the 21st-century business."

—Kirkus Reports

Drive sustained growth!

—Use on demand techniques to gain unprecedented speed, flexibility, and adaptability

—Construct dynamic "value webs" that leverage innovation from any source

Deregulation, globalization, and the Internet are driving rampant commoditization in virtually every industry. To escape that trap and grow profitably, you must "let go" of traditional control mechanisms. In their place, you must build new models, relationships, and platforms that capture and deliver value from multiple sources, inside and outside the enterprise.

In Let Go To Grow, IBM senior executive Linda Sanford and long-time entrepreneur Dave Taylor show exactly how to do that.

Sanford and Taylor systematically review the On Demand Business processes, people strategies, technology shifts, governance practices, and leadership vision you'll need to maximize profitability in tomorrow's business environment. They introduce powerful new techniques for balancing and measuring three key drivers of top-line growth: productivity, collaboration, and innovation.

You'll discover how to gain unprecedented flexibility by constructing your business around components, platforms, and standardized interfaces. The authors demonstrate how to expand your growth space, liberate your cost structures, and build profits—not just revenues. Drawing on the experiences of companies ranging from GE to eBay, Toyota to IBM, this book focuses on practical implementation, offering a proven, start-to-finish approach for moving from vision to results.

  • Create a virtuous cycle of growth.
    Discover how great companies are escaping commoditization and the vagaries of economic cycles.

  • Improve, balance, and measure the key drivers of top-line growth.
    Use on demand techniques to supercharge productivity, collaboration, and innovation.

  • Drive unprecedented agility with proven on demand strategies.
    "Open up" your firm: source and coordinate capabilities dynamically, on-the-fly.

  • Build flexible "value webs" that liberate your cost structures.
    Master powerful new ways to refocus precious resources on growth.

  • "Componentize" your business functions, processes, and services.
    Simplify the creation of any new business configuration, from supply chain management to customer service.


© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Linda S. Sanford is a Senior Vice President of IBM's internal On Demand Transformation and Information Technology initiatives. Ms. Sanford leads the team responsible for working across IBM to transform core business processes, create an IT infrastructure to support them, and help create a culture that recognizes the value of on demand leadership.

She formerly led IBM's Storage Systems Group and global sales force, which manages relationships with IBM's largest customers worldwide. As General Manager of IBM's S/390 Division, she guided one of the most comprehensive product transformations the computer industry has ever seen, reinventing the IBM mainframe.

One of IBM's highest-ranking women, Ms. Sanford is a member of the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame and the National Association of Engineers. She was named one of the 50 Most Influential Women in Business by Fortune magazine, one of the Top Ten Innovators in the Technology Industry by Information Week, and one of the Ten Most Influential Women in Technology by Working Woman.

Ms. Sanford serves on the Board of Directors of ITT Industries, St. John's University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the Partnership for New York City, and is chair of The Business Council of New York State, Inc.

Dave Taylor is a life-long entrepreneur who has been involved with both business and the Internet since 1980. He has founded, grown, and sold four Internet-related startups, and written 17 books, including Growing Your Business with Google, the best-selling Wicked Cool Shell Scripts, and the international best seller Creating Cool Web Sites.

As adjunct professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and the University of Phoenix, Taylor teaches both business and technical classes. He chaired Web Marketing 2000 and has presented at Comdex, Networld, Internet World, Macworld, and many other leading events.


© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall; 1 edition (December 22, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0131482084
  • ISBN-13: 978-0131482081
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.9 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,023,016 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Duff HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
So what do you do when your main business offering is in danger of becoming a commodity item? Do you desperately cling to ever-shrinking profit margins in hopes of a turnaround, or do you take a radically different approach and open things up? Those questions and answers are discussed in a new book called Let Go To Grow - Escaping The Commodity Trap by Linda S. Sanford and Dave Taylor. Lots of food for thought here...

Contents: Grow To Build Profits, Not Just Revenue; Commodity Markets Defined; It's All About Components; Creating Business Components; Integrate Your Business Components End-To-End; Expand Your Growth Space; Liberate Your Cost Structures; From Vision To Results - The Leadership Agenda; Achieving Measurable Productivity Improvements; Practical Implementation Of The Component Business Model; Gaining The Collaborative Edge - Building The Creative Company For The Creative Economy; Endnotes; Index

With the globalization of today's business environment, it's a strong likelihood that your business offerings over time will drift (or run) to becoming a commodity. The margins will shrink along with your rate of growth. It's at that point that companies either flourish or stagnate. Sanford and Taylor make the case that by opening up your business to the use of components, as well as allowing your business to become a component in the business of others, you can create a value web that causes you and others to build whole new businesses in unique ways that were not part of the "original" plan created by holding on tight. They use examples like Li & Fung, a player in the apparel industry who can do everything from design to delivery. As a result, companies like J. C.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. Maheshwari on January 31, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Disclaimer: I also work for IBM, where the author works. Nevertheless, this book is a great recipe for any 21st century organization, ... with a clear and powerful message, great examples, and an easy read of short length.

The premise is that the world is moving towards a creative economy. Organizations must innovate and grow, or shrivel and die. The day they stop innovating and creating, they will fall into 'commodity hell', with intense pressure on profit margins. To grow, they need to let go of old ossified modes of thinking and operations. They need to think not linearly, but in multi-dimensional, webby mode. Value chains should be replaced with value webs. The participation in value webs is optional, and is driven by the organization's ability to add value to the other partners in the ecosystem. This creates an options economy, where every company can choose from multiple partners for a specific service. Monolithic business models should replaced with component-based models. Organizations should do what they do best, and nothing else. They should integrate their core business components end-to-end to create a powerful plaform that would help them outsource the other components, and collaborate with other partners in a win-win-win situation.

Sustainable advantage comes from creating a value platform that enables adding/removing components with ease to create value webs. Yahoo, Amazon, eBay, Microsoft, Dell, Fedex, UPS, Walmart, IBM, P&G, GE, and many other organizations from around the world are shown as examples of organizations that have created, and are contantly improving upon, their value platforms. These platforms allow the creations of value-webs with a large number of other participants.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By C. Kovac on December 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
First of all, a disclaimer - I know Linda Sanford and have worked with her at IBM for over 20 years, and I confess that I am a huge fan, so perhaps not entirely objective! That said, this book is too good an opportunity to pass up. Being in IBM, Linda is perhaps not as well known as 'star' CEO's like Meg Whitman - but if you look at her track record, its AMAZING! She's the one who brought back the IBM mainframe business from a near-death experience, and over the past several years has been working quietly and diligently to move IBM to be one of the leading companies in not just TALKING about the value of technology, but implementing it and proving the value propositions. This book has a lot of her quiet wisdom in it - and is highly worth a read!
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Format: Hardcover
There are far too few books on growing (as opposed to starting) a business. And this book is a slow read. Like another reviewer mentioned, it is somewhat repetitive, maybe a little disorganized. Business people like to read and apply quickly. But the book provokes the business thought process which is always good.

The gist is that businesses are all interlocking. Your business receives and gives value. So far, so good. However, the reason that many businesses choose to do many things in-house is because there's a major trade-off: risk for profit.

Ex. We're a small B2B, communicating mostly online. We outsourced our phones to an answering service. It was a disaster. Dropped calls, long wait times, rudeness, garbled messages, rising prices, etc. And this was an agency approved by the related association.

Maybe a larger organization has enough resources(people, money, attorneys, etc.) to control an outsourced relationship. But this approach isn't for all businesses. And the book doesn't really address how to manage an outsourced relationships. Maybe that's the sequel.

Small businesses might get more value out of the sections that refer to providing value to others.
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