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Hidden Champions Hardcover – January, 1996

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

German business consultant Simon suggests that there is much to learn from studying the practices of lesser-known companies that have quietly succeeded in unique or specialized market niches. Because Simon is based in Bonn, most--but not all--of his examples are German. They all are, however, relatively unknown, small or midsize, and worldwide leaders in their markets, making mundane products, such as bottle-labeling machines, model railways, incense, potting soil, and museum display cases. Using secondary sources, printed company materials, a mailed questionnaire, and personal interviews, Simon discovered that these companies grow slowly, compete in stable markets, are long-lived, tend to be family owned or closely held, and prefer to shun publicity to avoid attracting competition. They also concentrate on developing their own specialties, avoiding such currently popular management practices as diversification, strategic alliances, and outsourcing. Simon's findings run counter to much of what today's management literature advocates, and they should attract attention! David Rouse
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 298 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business School Press (January 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0875846521
  • ISBN-13: 978-0875846521
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,275,965 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
What can be learned from 500 German companies, most of which you have probably never heard of? Actually, a great deal. The book is Hidden Champions and ts author is Hermann Simon. He explains that his book "reveals the secrets of success of the best of the best unknown companies." They are unknown, for the most part, because that's the way they want it. They "relish their obscurity. They shy away from publicity, some through explicit policies of not dealing with the press --or, by the way, with academic researchers!" such as the author. Simon selected them according to three criteria: They must be #1 or #2 in a world market or in their European market; they must be small-to-midsize; and they must have low public visibility.
In Chapter 11, the final chapter, Simon carefully reviews various "lessons" which can be learned from "hidden champions." He categorizes them as follows: Lessons for Large Corporations, Lessons for Champion Corporations, Lessons for Diversified Corporations, Lessons for Small Companies, Lessons for Investors, and General Qualitative Lessons. He concludes: "The hidden champions go their own ways. Their procedures are quite different from those of other companies and of modern management teaching. Essentially, their only secret success formula is common sense. So simple, but so difficult to achieve! This is the ultimate lesson."
Simon is to be commended for drawing attention to "champions" who know who and where they are...even if we didn't until now. His book is well-written, the content is substantial, and the lessons to be learned from these "champions" have immense potential value. However, as Coach Darrell Royal once observed, "potential" means "you ain't done it yet."ÿ
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Format: Hardcover
The main weakness of many business books is that they study the same companies over and over again and make the same points, until the companies start to do badly, and then new companies are found to describe in the same tired way. Peter Drucker told me about this book, and I am very glad that he did. By selecting very successful smaller companies with dominant world exporting positions, Hermann Simon gives us a totally different universe to consider. The lesons are very valuable, because these companies have found another path to success that most larger companies ignore. For an entrepreneur, this book is a better guide than 99% of the books about what entrepreneurs should do, because it points the way to large, lasting success. I have tried to do the same thing in my work, published annually in CHIEF EXECUTIVE magazine, by studying the most successful 100 CEOs in the country. These people also do things differently than what the business books suggest, and their model is quite different from what Hermann Simon found with these companies. The lesson seems to be that there are many paths to the top, and we should spend time finding them. This book is a "must" read for anyone who is serious about business success. I look forward to future books by Mr. Simon.
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Format: Hardcover
Many of us become aware of a few models of how to prosper. Magazines like Fotune, Forbes, and Business Week are one example; and they help us understand the e-commerce start-ups and the really LARGE companies. Books about successful leaders help as well (Jack Welch and Warrren Buffett books abound). Enrepreneurs are featured in other magazines like INC. What we get very little of is information about outstanding small and medium sized companies around the world who do things according to other ways of succeeding. This very large information gap is greatly improved by reading THE HIDDEN CHAMPIONS. If you have read and liked BUILT TO LAST, CUSTOMERS.COM, THE INNOVATOR'S DILEMMA or MANAGEMENT CHALLENGES FOR THE 21ST CENTURY (all are excellent books: be sure to read them if you haven't yet), be sure to add THE HIDDEN CHAMPIONS. This book is the sort of superb research that will stimulate your thinking about new models for how to succeed and prosper. The book is easy to read and understand, and you will learn about a lot of very well run businesses that you currently do not know about. You have a real treat ahead of you!
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