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The Breakthrough Imperative: How the Best Managers Get Outstanding Results

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Every general manager today—all the way up to the CEO—is expected by his or her stakeholders to achieve new breakthroughs in performance—and fast. Those who don't make visible progress toward that goal within the first year or two will likely find themselves looking for another job. It is precisely because of this growing breakthrough imperative that managers today, whether in corporations or nonprofits, need to get off to a fast start. They don't have time for mistakes or for going back and redoing what they should have done right in the first place.

But, despite the intensity of these pressures, despite the high expectations and short time frames, a number of CEOs and general managers turn in truly exceptional results. How do they meet and exceed the breakthrough imperative? To answer this question, consultants and former managers Mark Gottfredson and Steve Schaubert interviewed more than forty CEOs from both industry and the nonprofit sector, conducted an intensive study of what successful managers do right—and what some do wrong—and drew on their own combined fifty-plus years of experience at Bain & Company, where their insights have consistently been found in the pages of the Harvard Business Review. Together they came up with the four straightforward principles—deceptively simple yet remarkably powerful—that everyone must follow to succeed at achieving breakthrough results:

1. Costs and prices always decline
2. Competitive position determines options
3. Customers and profit pools don't stand still
4. Simplicity gets results
Although seemingly simplistic, mastering these four laws means mastering the basics of great management—a foundation on which to build the rest of one's management strategy. Whether you're managing a small work group or a multinational corporation, a single division or an entire nonprofit, The Breakthrough Imperative presents these core laws of business to help you determine where you are, just how far you can go, and how to get there with stellar results.

367 pages, Hardcover

First published March 1, 2008

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Displaying 1 - 3 of 3 reviews
Profile Image for Stefan Coburn.
45 reviews1 follower
May 10, 2017
This was an OK read. Written by two Bain & Company partners, it is full of business frameworks and 2 by 2 matrices. There are a few interesting takeaways and viewpoints, but it fails to justify its length.

Here are the four main lessons and their companion questions:
1.Costs and prices always decline
How does your price curve look relative to peers?
Which of your products are profitable and why?
Where can you improve most relative to others?
2. Competitive position determines your options
Where do you fall on a ROA/RMS chart for your industry? Return on Assets/Relative Market Share
How big is your market?
What capabilities create your competitive advantage?
Which are liabilities?
3. Customers and profit pools don't stand still
What are the most profitable customer segments?
How do your NPS scores compare to competitors?
What opportunity do shifting dynamics in profit pools open up for your company?
4. Simplicity gets results
How complex are your products/services?
How complex is the decision making process at your company?
Where does operational complexity exist in your processes?

There are a few gems, but only a few. Very analytical, very consulting philosophy driven. Light on execution.
Profile Image for Turgut.
295 reviews
April 9, 2019
One of the best business books I have read recently, particularly on the topic of consukting and business strategy.
Displaying 1 - 3 of 3 reviews

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