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Billion Dollar Lesson by Paul Carroll and Chunka Mui

I have been reading Billion Dollar Lessons and it is a great book! It is interesting to read the details of so many companies that make what appear in many cases very obvious blunders. It is also surprising just how many companies with deep resources have failed. So what key concepts can be gained by reading about these failures? Here are the four concepts that resonated with me:

1. Wayne Gretsky Rule: Go where the puck is going not where it is. Invest today for where the business and technology will be next year or three years from now. This is extremely important in technology because by the time a solution or practice is developed the market place will have changed so much. Examples of this are video, cameras and cellular business.

2. Constantly be revisiting your strategic business plan. In just about every case of business failure it is the plan! No matter how well the management executes on the plan the business will fail if the plan is severely flawed.

3. When your business is declining because of a shift in the marketplace, it is very difficult to change your entire business. When deciding what new business to invest in be clear on what the true experience and skills of your organization are and how you can leverage those in the new market that you plan to pursue.

4. Acquisition and consolidation strategies are very difficult to execute on for five main reasons:

a. The acquired business culture is usually very different and therefore the employees do not assimilate and actually, in some cases, employees have gone as far as doing harm to the new organization.

b. Economies of scale rarely materialize

c. When companies suddenly increase by 50% – 100% their systems and process usually are not able to scale fast enough and often lead to massive losses

d. Usually an acquisition leads businesses into new markets that the current management team does not have the necessary experience

e. Acquiring businesses usually requires more leverage and this puts the business at a greater risk

These are the key concepts I gained and at the end of the day the book reminded me how fragile businesses big and small are and how important it is to have a solid business plan.