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SuperCorp: How Vanguard Companies Create Innovation, Profits, Growth, and Social Good Hardcover – August 25, 2009

4.9 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Harvard Business School professor Kanter (Confidence) offers cutting-edge insights on corporate competitiveness in this timely and captivating assessment of what it takes to succeed in the face of rapid technological, cultural and economic change. Asserting that globalization increases the likelihood for shorter organizational life cycles, Kanter argues that companies must be more nimble than ever to survive. Drawing on stories of such businesses as Proctor and Gamble, Digitas and Cemex, she describes how vanguard companies exploit their strong cultures to adapt and innovate, often harnessing the momentum of change to capture market share or squash competition. Those companies that will thrive in the future, maintains Kanter, have stamina, energy, long lists of contacts, an appetite for communication, comfort with ambiguity, and a belief that the company's values and principles mean that they are part of something bigger than just a job. This dense work may be demanding for many, but the opportune lessons within are worth the effort for readers seeking to compete in a global marketplace that is changing more rapidly than ever before. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“Rosabeth Moss Kanter puts a new and welcome human face on the many ways companies can serve a public purpose while also prospering financially and building an enduring culture of success.”
—Andrea Jung, chairman and CEO of Avon Products

“A brilliant report from the front lines of companies creating the future by accomplishing the seemingly impossible.”
—Daniel Vasella, chairman and CEO of Novartis

“Rosabeth Moss Kanter . . . breaks new ground in SuperCorp by envisioning the corporation of the future that creates long-term value through breakthrough strategies that help solve intractable social problems.”
—Bill George, former chairman and CEO of Medtronic and author of True North

“This is the book that the world has been anxiously waiting for, perhaps Kanter’s most notable, certainly one of the most important books of this decade.”
—Warren Bennis, University Professor at the University of Southern California and author of On Becoming a Leader

“Kanter makes a compelling case about the role played by corporate culture, values-based decision making, and larger societal issues in the creation of sustainable success.”
—Ivan Seidenberg, chairman and CEO of Verizon

“Innovative insights on how companies–and their leaders–can be at the vanguard of the twenty-first century. . . . Timely, informative, and uplifting–all of the qualities of a great read!”
—David Gergen, CNN senior political analyst and White House counselor to four U.S. presidents

“Kanter’s careful analysis goes beyond the platitudes by offering solid examples and important insights.”
—Samuel J. Palmisano, chairman, p­resident, and CEO of IBM

“Unless your business is also serving a social purpose you miss an opportunity for innovations that bring profits. Rosabeth Moss Kanter, one of our most outstanding scholars, excels in her characteristic manner by taking the lead and developing practical ideas for the leaders of the future.”
—Ram Charan, coauthor of Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business; First Edition edition (August 25, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307382354
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307382351
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #734,224 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rosabeth Moss Kanter holds the Ernest L. Arbuckle Professorship at Harvard Business School, where she specializes in strategy, innovation, and leadership for change. Her strategic and practical insights have guided leaders of large and small organizations worldwide for over 25 years, through teaching, writing, and direct consultation to major corporations and governments. The former Editor of Harvard Business Review (1989-1992), Professor Kanter has been named to lists of the "50 most powerful women in the world" (Times of London), and the "50 most influential business thinkers in the world" (Accenture and Thinkers 50 research). In 2001, she received the Academy of Management's Distinguished Career Award for her scholarly contributions to management knowledge, and in 2002 was named "Intelligent Community Visionary of the Year" by the World Teleport Association.

She is the author or co-author of 18 books. Her latest book is SuperCorp: How Vanguard Companies Create Innovation, Profits, Growth, and Social Good, a manifesto for leadership of sustainable enterprises. SuperCorp is based on three years of research and more than 350 interviews in 20 countries.

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Format: Hardcover
In recent years, Rosabeth Moss Kanter has written several books in which she focuses on individuals as well as groups that consistently produce peak performances. She understands and appreciates how difficult it is to become #1 in the given competitive marketplace and how even more difficult it is to maintain that ranking. As Tom Peters and Robert Waterman as well as Jim Collins and others have noted, that is true of major corporations and it is also true of athletic teams. In Confidence, Kanter correctly praises women's varsity basketball coach Pat Summit at the University of Tennessee. Since 1974, her teams have won eight national championships and twice won consecutive championships (1996-1998 and 2007-2008) but Tennessee is one of very few that have ever done so. Eight of the last ten NFL Super Bowl champions failed to make the playoffs the following year and only two teams during the same period won consecutive titles, the Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots. Thirty-eight of 43 other winners couldn't repeat.

My point is, that becoming a "SuperCorp" (however defined), especially in the current economy, is an admirable achievement but does not necessarily ensure a permanent position. That is why Reggie Jones selected Jack Welch to succeed him as CEO and then told him to "blow up" GE. That is why Toyota continues to generate so many suggestions to improve its incomparable production system and incorporated more than two million of them last year. That is why not once or twice but at least three times thus far, Tiger Woods has made radical changes in his swing (i.e. grip, stance, take-away, and/or follow-through) because he competes only against himself, no one else, and realized that improvements were needed.
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Format: Hardcover
I haven't been this enthusiastic about a "business book" since reading Paul Herr's Primal Management: Unraveling the Secrets of Human Nature to Drive High Performance several months ago. This time, Dr Rosabeth Moss Kanter took several years, travelled the world conducting hundreds of interviews, and came up with what is essentially a blueprint for any corporation to use to become a "Super Corp". Even Kryptonite won't stop this corporate powerhouse.

What makes Kanter's book so compelling is the emphasis she places on social responsibility; the "vanguard companies" realize that taking care of people (employees, customers & the general public) goes a long way towards taking care of the bottom line. Also, like Paul Herr suggests, it's time to turn the typical hierarchial organization upside down, to create a more responsive and innovative workplace. This tends to improve communication within the organization, while creating a more positive environment for all the employees. The inevitable result: A highly engaged group of employees, with high morale & high productivity.

As we all know, the vast majority of corporate America has not been successful in achieving that sort of environment for quite some time; hence, poor productivity & lousy profitability.

Help is on the way. This book (hopefully) is destined to be widely read, even by the pompous CEOs in corporate America. The case studies of the successful corporations, like IBM & Proctor & Gamble are very real; the blueprints for success are tangible and not difficult to follow. The opportunities for struggling companies to turn things around are attainable, as long as the leadership is willing to accept positive change.

Let's hope they're listening this time around.
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Format: Hardcover
Rosabeth Moss Kanter has added an extremely important book to her long list of thought-leading business works. Supercorp makes a most convincing argument that in the new business era we are entering firms seeking the traditional business goals of growth and profitability will have to include other value-creating goals aimed at satisfying a much broader set of stakeholders if they expect to be successful. Such has been the experience of vanguard firms that Professor Kanter describes and analyzes most effectively in this new book and such will be required of the rest of the business world in the future. The book not only gives solid documentary support for this thesis, but also provides insightful and practical prescriptions for how to pursue these new goals successfully.

A key premise of the book's thesis is that by including "higher values and principles" in the firm's mission statement and broadening that mission to include goals other than market dominance or shareholder value strategies will focus on more secure and longer-term objectives, within which the more traditional goals will be ensured. Thus, for example, IBM, one of the vanguard companies referred to throughout the book, lists among its "overarching values" dedication to every client's success, innovation that matters for the company and the world, and trust and personal responsibility in all relationships. These core values have translated into highly successful strategic initiatives that have not only led to IBM'S outstanding financial performance, but have yielded a range of additional strategic payoffs such as competitive differentiation and attracting and motivating highly talented staff.
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