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Unstoppable: Finding Hidden Assets to Renew the Core and Fuel Profitable Growth 1st Edition

11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1422103661
ISBN-10: 1422103668
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Editorial Reviews


Based on a thorough analysis of a rich set of data, and supported by extended interviews with and studies of a range of corporations... --The Financial Times, April 30, 2007

"Zook provides solid...ground-breaking, advice for finding the strengths that lie dormant within a company." --BusinessWeek, June 18, 2007

"...good ideas about how companies can squeeze their core businesses for all they are worth." --The Economist, July 12, 2007

From the Back Cover


OVER THE NEXT DECADES, two out of every three companies will face the challenge of their corporate lives: redefining their core business to stay competitive. Buffeted by ever-stiffening global competition, shifting global dynamics, and accelerating change, business leaders face an increasingly uncertain future. More and more, executives will realize that they must make fundamental changes in their companies’ core to spur growth in the future—even as they continue to deliver the goods and services that keep their firms in business today.

Unstoppable shows you how to look deep within your organization to find undervalued, unrecognized, or underutilized assets—in the form of business platforms, customer insights, and capabilities—that can serve as new foundations for sustainable growth.

Drawing extensive studies and more than thirty in-depth interviews with CEOs from firms as diverse as DeBeers, American Express, Li & Fung, and Harman International, Chris Zook explains how to know when your company’s core needs reinventing. He also demonstrates how your organization can find and deploy "hidden assets" that can serve as the engines for growth tomorrow. State-of-the-art tools and diagnostics help you apply what you’ve learned to transform your core.

Looking deep within your core for ways to redefine your strategy, Zook explains, is far less risky that other popular tactics, such as entering the race for the next hot market or bidding in the auction for the next big transforming acquisition. It also helps you avoid all-too-common error of relying on the past formulas for success, even when those formulas have begun to reach their limit.

Using Zook’s approach, you will learn to recognize the magnitude of a threat to your core before it’s too late. And you’ll make critical changes in your company’s fundamentals to unleash a new wave of growth rather than run the risk of stall-out- or worse. Building on the author’s previous books, Profit from the Core and Beyond the Core, this book shows how any company in crisis can transform itself to become truly unstoppable.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 190 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; 1 edition (May 3, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422103668
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422103661
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #607,797 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chris Zook is a Partner in Bain & Company's Amsterdam office and has been co-head of the Global Strategy Practice for the past 15 years. He specializes in helping companies find new sources of profitable growth.

He is the author of five books with Harvard Business Review Press in the past ten years including his new book "Repeatability: Build Enduring Businesses for a World of Constant Change," published in March 2012. Among his best-selling books are "Profit from the Core: a Return to Growth in Turbulent Times" (HBRP, January 2010), an updated edition of his 2001 book, "Profit from the Core: Growth Strategy in an Era of Turbulence," "Unstoppable: Finding Hidden Assets to Renew the Core and Fuel Profitable Growth" (HBRP, May 2007) and "Beyond the Core: Expand your Market without Abandoning your Roots" (HBRP, November 2004).

Chris has received accolades for his work on strategy such as:
- Times of London "Top 50 Business Thinkers,"
- FT Guide to Strategy "One of most interesting strategic thinkers working today,"
- Top 100 business books of all time award,
- FT and Economist "Books of the year" list

He's been a featured guest on renowned business broadcast outlets, including NPR, CNBC, and Bloomberg TV. He is also a frequent author in "Harvard Business Review," and other business publications.

Chris is a frequent speaker at a wide range of international and business forums including the World Economic Forum, the World Knowledge Forum, the Forbes' CEO Conference, the BusinessWeek CEO Conference, and the Economist Summit.

He received a B.A. in mathematics and economics from Williams College, an M.Phil. in economics from Exeter College, Oxford University, and earned master's and doctorate degrees from Harvard University.

He presently splits his time between homes in Amsterdam and Boston.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In two previously published books, Profit from the Core (2001) and then Beyond the Core (2004), Chris Zook shares what several years of extensive and intensive research revealed about "how companies fail to recognize the potential of their core business and, as a result, prematurely abandon it in pursuit of hot markets or sexy new ideas, only to realize their error - often, when it is too late." He suggests a systematic way for organizations to assess their full potential and to make certain, also, that they do not fall into "this common, and typically human, trap."

In this volume, Zook draws upon an even wider and deeper wealth of research sources that include about fifty interviews, mostly of CEOs. The title is explained by the fact that he and his associates chose to study most closely those companies "that beat the odds. We also analyzed patterns of failure and estimated the odds of success offered by various paths in various situations." He goes on to observe that all of the success stories built their renewal on their "hidden assets" that had been previously been undervalued, unrecognized, and/or underutilized. "These assets were not central to the strategy of the past, but they held the key to the future. Furthermore, the older and more complex the company, the greater was the likelihood of finding promising hidden assets." In other words, many companies already "hold most of the cards for "a winning hand" but do not realize it.

I highly recommend all three of Zook's books because, together, they answer three separate but related, and critically important questions:

1. How to define and grow an organization's core assets? (Profit from the Core)
2. How to expand its boundaries into new territory? (Beyond the Core)
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mark P. McDonald VINE VOICE on October 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Normally the third book in a series either rehashes the prior two books, or requires that you read all three to understand the authors points. Unstoppable is unique in this regard as the book stands on its own and does not require you to read the other books.

Zook talks in depth about how enterprises can find source of growth from the core of their company either by finding hidden assets, customers or capabilities. The strength of this book is its detailed discussion of each of these sources of growth from the core and extending the core. Zook also provides detailed tools to help the reader apply these ideas to their company. This is particularly unique in a book that addresses issues of growth and growth strategy.

In some ways, Zook's book should be used as a companion to the book "BLUE OCEAN STRATEGY" which talks about identifying opportunities where there are no competitors. Used in combination, Blue Ocean will open up new possibilities, while Unstoppable will provide a way to execute on these opportunities and build off of your core to achieve them.

The book is clearly written with detailed case studies and verbatims form actual companies going through their growth processes. This is unique for any business book and Zook's use of extensive interview comments makes the book seem real and actionable rather than academic.

While Zook's book is well researched, there is a subtle and important bias in the research. Zook's results and statistics are largely based on analyzing projects that he and his company have conducted, rather than looking at the general marketplace. This is strength in that the book can talk about implementation details because they did the work.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By ARMAN KIRIM, PhD on June 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read Chris Zook's other two books when they were published and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed them. But if I reread those books today, I am not sure whether I will find them relevant to current business conditions anymore. Most probably I will not. I bought The Unstoppable in 2007 when it was first published but only recently had a chance to read it. I must say I was utterly disappointed. There are a number of reasons for this.

1. First of all, as the author himself admits at the outset, this book draws mainly on the works of some other powerful business writers. Zook says that Unstoppable is at the intersection of these three bodies of work but in effect it draws mainly on two separate literature. First is the book by Slywotzky, How To Grow When The Markets Don't where Slywotzky puts forward the concept of internal "intangible assets". The second body of work is Hamel&Prahalad's' 'core competence' literature, but mainly the book Competing For the Future. Zook takes the main concepts of these two bodies of work and merges them under a supposedly new term "HIDDEN ASSETS". Voila! Business management literature has a totally new terminology. The concept of hidden assets is no more than a cocktail of core competence and intangible assets concepts. However, neither concept is clearly handled in Unstoppable. If the reader refers to a wonderful book by Peter Skarzynski and Rowan Gibson (Innovation to the Core: A Blueprint for Transforming the Way Your Company Innovates) he/she will find a much more useful definition and handling of the concept of 'core competence', for example. Moreover, if you want a really good insight into the concept of intangible assets, I suggest you stick with Adrain Slywotzky's original work which is miles away in depth and in prose than the present one.

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