Life’s most rewarding opportunities aren’t all that easy. Playing scales for years won’t make you a concert pianist. And even if a clutch and manual gearbox set your blood racing, years of navigating the parking deck at the office won’t have you racing historic sports cars. So it goes with business, where the success that gets a company to shareholder and business school-darling status demands more than balancing the books and pushing product out the door on time. Our articles in this issue are about these difficult and defining tasks – the rocks on which many companies break and others hone their strengths.
If we haven’t yet enticed you through the usual magazine tricks of cover art and placement, I’ll toss away my last pretenses of subtlety and steer you to Dwight Allen and Punit Renjen’s article on truths and half-truths in M&A. Few of us have managed or worked for a company that has never been involved in a merger of some sort. There are many assumptions about how these are supposed to work — the best-laid plans. The authors’ list serves as the reality check most of us could use on occasion and especially before an occasion as crucial as embarking on a merger.
Of course, there are occasions when an acquisition or perhaps only a partial stake may be the right move. We feature an excerpt from Michael Raynor’s new book, The Strategy Paradox, which describes how the best strategies can and do fail, and how the best-managed companies cope with — and prosper in — the face of uncertainty, through investments in themselves and in other companies.
When it comes to service, most companies regard it as a necessary cost, something that authors Jeffrey Glueck, Peter Koudal and Wim Vaessen would take issue with. In The Service Revolution, they argue that manufacturers that fail to implement and measure a strategy around services are overlooking what for service leaders has become something of a (very profitable) crown jewel. Their research, highlighted in their article, puts services in a new light.
Keeping with the theme of things that set the best apart from the competent, we put the rise of the aging consumer under the lens. How do the best companies turn an unprecedented demographic upheaval into a market opportunity?
The answers, as with all our topics in the Summer 2007 edition of The Deloitte Review, are not so simple.