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The Alchemy of Growth: Practical Insights for Building the Enduring Enterprise Paperback – Bargain Price, May, 2000

4.5 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Why do some companies come and go while others endure? According to McKinsey & Company, Inc. consultants Mehrdad Baghai, Stephen Coley, and David White, the secret to a lasting enterprise is sustained growth. In The Alchemy of Growth, the authors offer a practical guide for jumpstarting expansion and keeping it going. "Growth is a noble pursuit. It creates new jobs for the community and wealth for shareholders. It can turn ordinary companies into stimulating environments where employees find a sense of purpose in their work," they write. "Growth's transformative power is akin to the alchemy of old."

The authors describe the approaches that have succeeded in helping their corporate clients around the world to step up the pace. For instance, companies must simultaneously focus on "three horizons" critical to growth. The first is the current bread-and-butter of the firm; the second, the fast-developing entrepreneurial ventures; and the third, the ideas that will germinate into tomorrow's profits. The best part of the book: the real-life examples of firms that have transformed themselves from laggards to supercharged growth companies. Take Disney, for example. After founder Walt Disney's death in 1966, the company stagnated, with its theme park and film business slipping. But after Michael Eisner took over in 1984, Disney boosted its average annual returns to 29 percent, on the strength of growth in such new avenues as Disney stores, ESPN, and resort development. The Alchemy of Growth is an instructive handbook for managers interested in spurring their companies to new heights. --Dan Ring --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

This slender volume is the latest in a growing number of books from accounting, management, or consulting giants. Here, the topic is that most elusive of business concepts, growth. Coauthors Baghai, Stephen Coley, and David White are partners at the renowned consulting firm of McKinsey & Company, specializing in growth strategies. They feel that the growth creation process has three stages: maximizing current business, building emerging issues, and developing viable options. This framework is used to examine successes and failures while exploring the interrelated issues of inertia, momentum, business history, opportunity, leadership, and sustained growth. The last third of the volume consists of two-page summaries of the 30 companies used as successful examples. The concepts are clear, logical, and well documented with footnotes, but this type of business book will date quickly even if the underlying theoretical framework is sound. Public and undergraduate libraries will find this an acceptable though optional purchase.APatrick J. Brunet, Western Wisconsin Technical Coll. Lib., LaCrosse
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Perseus Books Group (May 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738203092
  • ASIN: B0013VZK1Y
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,504,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bill Godfrey on June 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
A perspective on corporate growth and change which works through the need to maintain a simultaneous focus on three 'horizons' - today's business, emerging businesses and longer term options and the implications for strategy, management and structures.
As you would expect of a book out of the McKinsey stable, this is on an issue of importance to business, is well researched and analysed and very readable and well presented. As you would also expect, it is focused on large corporates, and on strategies for their business success, as measured by exceptional growth and returns to stockholders.
It provides one important perspective on the issue of corporate growth and development, to be compared with other perspectives.
There are obvious comparisons with Collins & Porras: 'Built to Last' both in the concern with continuing exceptional performance over an extended period and in the care taken to explain the research base from which the findings are derived. However, whereas Collins & Porras are concerned primarily with values and culture, Baghai et al are primarily interested in strategies for the selection, development and management of a portfolio of businesses and the implications of those strategies for structuring, staffing and operations.
The fundamental thesis is simple and can be stated in a few propositions:
The companies that have been successful in maintaining high rates of growth with superior profitability are those that have learnt to manage well to three different time horizons at the same time - today's business, the next generation of emerging businesses, and the longer term options out of which the next generation of businesses will arise.
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Format: Hardcover
How to turn a booklet into a book --> use big print and add a huge appendix (about half the book). It took four authors to write this book?
Make a nice short read in the bookstore cafe but it won't last more than a cup or two.
Here's a chapter's worth - manage three growth time-horizons simultaneously. I just saved you a cup.
However, the content IS important and useful.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Below are key excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- "Growth's transformative power is akin to the alchemy of old. Always a mystery, alchemy's magical blend of science, philosophy, art, and spirituality held secrets that even its practitioners found difficult to penetrate. Still, they were all drawn to its alluring aim: to transform the everyday into the exalted. The pursuit of corporate growth has prompted a similar reaction in the field of management. Although excited by growth's promise, executives are uncertain about how to capture it. Feeling ill equipped to lead a growth charge, many seek a approach that shows them how they can actually attain and sustain growth. This book is addressed to them. It attempts to arm business leaders for growth by laying out a proven practical framework for the holistic management of a growing enterprise. The ideas and approaches suggested here are applicable to businesses and business units of all sizes, in all locations. They are intended to provide guidance to all levels of business leadership."

2- "Our research makes it clear that very few companies sustain above-average growth for their industry year after year. Indeed, some of the companies we studied have already suffered slowdowns, and we fully expect more to do so. But these setbacks do not detract ft-om the lessons to be learned from the sustained phases of growth; indeed, they serve to reinforce the need for new approaches to help executives keep growth going. Our own approach has been specifically developed to help companies grow throughout the business cycle - not only sailing through the upswings, but also maintaining growth during the downturns.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is based on research on 30 companies in Asia, Australia, Europe, and North American, selected for exceptional sales and profit growth. The research findings reveal a three-phase pattern for growth which is analyzed and illustrated with cases. The pattern encompasses the embryonic, emergent, and mature phases of a business's life cycle. The underlying pattern is a continuous pipeline of business-building initiatives that focuses on three horizons: extending and defending the core business; building emerging businesses, and creating viable future opportunities. This examination of growth strategies proves highly enlightening. The combination of insights based on solid research yields a great book. The appendix profiles each of the firms the authors' studied. Recommended. Reviewed by Gerry Stern, founder, Stern & Associates, author of Stern's Sourcefinder: The Master Directory to HR and Business Management Information & Resources, Stern's CyberSpace SourceFinder, and Stern's Compensation and Benefits SourceFinder.
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Format: Hardcover
It seems like a no-brainer that companies need to grow in order to survive or compete, and this book isn't interesting because it tells us what we already know. What's interesting about this book is that the authors do a wonderful job of taking substantial research, abstracting the trends, and rendering their findings into very clear and usable models and messages that can help most managers who are thinking about growth. It was particularly interesting for me, as I work as an ebusiness consultant for a large IT integrator and many of my customers are trying to start new staircases (as described in the book) via Internet channels and I can immediately see the applicability of Alchemy to what they're trying to do.
The book is a quick read (almost comically quick, given the price) and mercifully low on buzz words. Right now, I don't see the appendix as being particularly useful, but I may find it more so later. Annotating the bibliography would have added a lot of value.
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