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Unlocking Opportunities for Growth: How to Profit from Uncertainty While Limiting Your Risk 1st Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0132237901
ISBN-10: 0132237903
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Editorial Reviews


"In Unlocking Opportunities for Growth, Putten and Macmillan help company leaders discover a new method for evaluating business opportunities and demonstrate that, just as a product can be engineered, so to can the financial returns of business investments. No longer do the outcomes of investments in R & D, new markets, and new products need to be accepted as the hand that was dealt. Instead, both general and financial managers can learn new ways of planning and directing business investments to create maximum returns coupled with reduced risks". — Business Book Review, September 2008

About the Author

Alexander B. van Putten is an adjunct faculty member at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania where he has been teaching graduate students since 1993. He is actively involved with Wharton’s executive education programs where he lectures on issues surrounding innovation, corporate entrepreneurship, and strategic growth. He is a partner of Cameron & Associates LLC, which consults on strategy and business planning for clients ranging from Air Products & Chemicals, Shell Global Solutions to Seagate Technology, Novell, and Westcon. Prior to teaching at Wharton, van Putten was a general partner in equity and fixed income arbitrage and commercial mortgage securitization partnerships. He was also an SVP responsible for investments at Chrysler Capital Realty. Early in his career, he worked in the investment departments of Bankers Trust and Safeco Insurance Companies as well. van Putten has a BA in economics from Boston University, a MBA from the Wharton School, and is a DBA candidate at Edinburgh Business School. He has published articles in Harvard Business Review and Research-Technology Management.


Ian C. MacMillan is the academic director of the Sol C. Snider Entrepreneurial Research Programs at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He is also the Dhirubhai Ambani Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Management Department. Formerly he was director of the Entrepreneurship center at NYU and taught at Columbia and Northwestern Universities and the University of South Africa. In 1999 he was awarded the Swedish Foundation for Small Business Research prize for his contribution to research in the area of entrepreneurship. Prior to joining the academic world, MacMillan was a chemical engineer and gained experience in gold and uranium mines, chemical and explosives factories, oil refineries, soap and food manufacturers, and the South African Atomic Energy Board. He has been a director of several companies in the travel, import/export, and pharmaceutical industries and has extensive consulting experience, having worked with such companies as DuPont, General Electric, GTE, IBM, Citibank, Metropolitan Life, Chubb & Son, American Re-Insurance, Texas Instruments, KPMG, Hewlett Packard, Intel, Fluor Daniel, Matsushita (Japan), Olympus (Japan), and L.G. Group (Korea). MacMillan’s articles have appeared in the Harvard Business Review, The Sloan Management Review, The Journal of Business Venturing, Administrative Science Quarterly, Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Academy of Management Executive, Management Science and Strategic Management Journal, among others. His most recent book, Discovery-Driven Strategy, is published by Harvard Business School Press, and can be considered the sister book to this one.



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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Pearson Prentice Hall; 1 edition (July 19, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0132237903
  • ISBN-13: 978-0132237901
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,414,509 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Roger Gins on September 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book is not merely the theoretic work of two well known Wharton professors, Alex Van Putten and Ian Mc Millian; it includes their insights of actually putting this framework into practice. Through a software program the team developed they have implemented this framework into a number of companies..

Currently, the vast majority decision makers view the landscape of opportunities in a very narrow band. This narrow focus is most likely caused by the current models used to value opportunities. The vast majority of them is based on a Net Present Value discipline that yields to a Go or No Go decision which inevitably leads to "Buy/Build and They Will Come" mentality.

Unlocking Opportunities for Growth gave me a whole new framework to think about evaluating my ideas and others that are presented to me. The authors actually lead the reader to start thinking about what is the value creation of each stage of development.

This innovative framework gives the tools to map out and value multiple possibilities at each stage rather than the existing models in which one merely changes the projection of the original idea. This is a radical departure from the way I use to think of projects. Now future environmental changes become an opportunity rather than a threat to the project.

A company that truly adopts this innovative framework will "future proof" theirs companies giving them the agility to capitalize on these most volatile of times.
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Format: Hardcover
It's tragic, but true. All too often in the pursuit of growth opportunities, companies fail to use the right disciplines that make sense in the context of a project that's uncertain. In this book, Alex van Putten and Ian MacMillan take their readers step-by-step through a time-tested and proven approach to capture high upside potential while minimizing the downside risk.

While the book is based on very sophisticated ways of thinking about risk - including considering investments to create flexibility, real puts, real calls and planning without making excessively early commitments - it is approachable, accessible and extremely practical. This is one of those gems of a book that will cause you to think differently about risky, but high potential opportunities. If you are an entrepreneur, corporate new business development director, or even a CEO or Board member looking to give your company some concrete guidance for getting into new areas, this is the book for you.

Those of you familiar with van Putten and MacMillan's work on discovery driven planning, competitive interaction and financial modeling will be delighted to find a road map through their thinking in this approachable, practical and sensible book.
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Format: Hardcover
I put off reading this book because I was so busy. But, finally, I bit the bullet and guess what. This book is so short and engagingly written that I had it read (cover-to-cover) in two hours. Admittedly, I was already familiar with the concepts of DDP, real options, marketbusting, etc. My job is new business development in a large corporation, and this is my tool-set. But this book is a little gem in how it simplifies, lays out, and gives examples of the soft and hard analyses you can do to enable to you work through an uncertain business proposition in a company that craves certainty. In the current difficult economic environment, innovation has taken a big hit. So for me, this was a shot in the arm, and a timely reminder of how to build a new business without arm-waving. A colleague recently asked me to help her build a case to wake up her business area to missed opportunities and I was planning to use a reverse income statement. But the new terminology in this book is so appealing to engineers (which my company is comprised of) compared to the older, more financial nomenclature that I'm going to switch to this version. I'm also going to try out the new software. Never needed it more than now.
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Format: Hardcover
As someone who has worked with real options and discovery of opportunity in uncertainty, I might have been predisposed to split hairs, find faults, and nitpick a book such as this. Instead, my experience led me to be thunderstruck at the unbelievable clarity the authors achieved in this very accessible work. They have taken some very deep and profound ideas and put them in a form that is quite understandable, and reduced them to practice in a way that makes them clearly actionable.

I recommend this book to anyone engaged in planning for an uncertain future.
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