THE WINNING PERFORMANCE: How America's High-Growth Midsize Companies Succeed by

THE WINNING PERFORMANCE: How America's High-Growth Midsize Companies Succeed

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Yet another search for excellence, which confirms and applauds the finding that some of corporate America's consistently successful enterprises practice nontraditional management. The book evolved from a 1983 study prepared by McKinsey & Co. (where In Search of Excellence originated) for the American Business Conference--a coalition of (surprise!) midsize growth companies (defined as those with annual revenues ranging from $25 million to $1 billion). Clifford (who now heads his own consulting firm) and Cavanagh (still a principal at McKinsey) confined their subsequent inquiries to ""the best of the bunch,"" i.e., 81 publicly held ABC members whose sales or earnings gains averaged at least 15 percent over the previous five years. Covering much the same ground as rivals who reached the marketplace before them, the authors conclude that their high-performance exemplars have a number of common denominations, not the least of which is a willingness to compete in niche outlets on the basis of value rather than price. In addition, they tend to be innovative, anti-bureaucratic, strong on fundamentals, and staffed by employees prepared to work hard as well as smart toward shared goals. According to them, the executive suites of midsize growth companies are tenanted by leaders who have turned their attention from running a business to building an organization. Throughout, the authors offer a wealth of anecdotal evidence in support of their contention that prospering enterprises do things differently. Among the frequently familiar citations are Analog Devices, Federal Express, and Kollmorgen. About one-fifth of the text is devoted to detailed case studies on three companies (that, yes, have put it all together): Automatic Data Processing (number one in payroll preparation); Cray Research (virtually the sole source of supercomputers); and Sealed Air (which makes bubble-wrap packaging material). Equally valuable, though, are the briefer rundowns on companies that stumbled, then recovered. Beyond suggesting that the good might possibly become better, Clifford and Cavanagh do not make extravagant claims for the lessons to be learned from entrepreneurial corporations. Their commendable reticence, of course, focuses attention on the often overlooked fact that while corporate excellence may have common elements, its realization invariably involves unique combinations--and superior execution.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1985
Publisher: Bantam