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Confronting Reality
Cover of Confronting Reality
Confronting Reality
Doing What Matters to Get Things Right
Borrow Borrow
Confronting Reality will change the way you think about and run your business. It is the first book that shows how to connect the big picture of the new era of business with the nitty-gritty of what to do about it. Through a completely new way to understand and use the business model as the primary tool for confronting reality—a breakthrough that will become the management innovation of this decade—you'll know sooner rather than later whether your fundamental business premise is under assault, where your best opportunities lie, what you should change and what you should leave alone, and how to realistically plan the future of your business.
The fundamentals of how a business makes money are being rapidly and permanently altered by sweeping structural changes. With their extraordinary depth and breadth of experience, Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan are the ideal guides for everyone—entrepreneur, mid-level manager, or CEO—about what is to be done so you can get things right in this challenging, radically changed world. They start by showing you how to understand the most fundamental element of any business: whether you can realistically make the money you hope to in the game you're playing.
Bossidy and Charan show how to use the business model to develop a robust, reality-based process for thinking about the speci?cs of your business in a holistic way. They show how to tie together the financial targets you must meet, the external realities you face, and internal activities such as strategy development, operating tactics, and selection and development of people.
Through the lens of the business model, as well as the skillful use of initiatives and development of people with the right leadership characteristics, you'll see how Robert Nardelli at Home Depot, Jim McNerney at 3M, Dick Harrington at the Thomson Corporation, Michael Wisbrun at KLM, Joseph Tucci at EMC, and John Chambers at Cisco confronted reality. Whether they faced crisis or opportunity, all made the right kinds of changes through a combination of business savvy (the art of understanding the fundamentals driving a business) and business model thinking.
From the Hardcover edition.
Confronting Reality will change the way you think about and run your business. It is the first book that shows how to connect the big picture of the new era of business with the nitty-gritty of what to do about it. Through a completely new way to understand and use the business model as the primary tool for confronting reality—a breakthrough that will become the management innovation of this decade—you'll know sooner rather than later whether your fundamental business premise is under assault, where your best opportunities lie, what you should change and what you should leave alone, and how to realistically plan the future of your business.
The fundamentals of how a business makes money are being rapidly and permanently altered by sweeping structural changes. With their extraordinary depth and breadth of experience, Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan are the ideal guides for everyone—entrepreneur, mid-level manager, or CEO—about what is to be done so you can get things right in this challenging, radically changed world. They start by showing you how to understand the most fundamental element of any business: whether you can realistically make the money you hope to in the game you're playing.
Bossidy and Charan show how to use the business model to develop a robust, reality-based process for thinking about the speci?cs of your business in a holistic way. They show how to tie together the financial targets you must meet, the external realities you face, and internal activities such as strategy development, operating tactics, and selection and development of people.
Through the lens of the business model, as well as the skillful use of initiatives and development of people with the right leadership characteristics, you'll see how Robert Nardelli at Home Depot, Jim McNerney at 3M, Dick Harrington at the Thomson Corporation, Michael Wisbrun at KLM, Joseph Tucci at EMC, and John Chambers at Cisco confronted reality. Whether they faced crisis or opportunity, all made the right kinds of changes through a combination of business savvy (the art of understanding the fundamentals driving a business) and business model thinking.
From the Hardcover edition.
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    CHAPTER 1

    When Reality Bites: The Stories of John P. and Lou G.

    The most widespread unrealistic behavior when the game changes drastically is to violate the First Law of Holes (when you're in one, stop digging). People redouble their efforts to do what they know best. They often achieve heroic results-which are, alas, almost as often pointless, because they fail to confront the new realities.

    For example, many managers facing competition from abroad are still fighting yesterday's war. That's the one the Japanese started with their efficient manufacturing processes. Today even the Japanese can't win it. Doubling your productivity is a wonderful accomplishment, but it does not confront reality because it won't save you when your competitors have global supply chains with costs that are a small fraction of what you can hope to achieve in your home country. Services are now in the equation too. Customer support, back-office operations, product development, and even some segments of R&D can be as outsourceable as factories.

    Consider John P., a business unit leader we know. In mid-2003, John and his top managers were preparing the 2004 strategic plan for their $500 million division, which made protective coatings for a highly specialized industrial market. John had run the division superbly for more than five years, and was considered a candidate for senior leadership of the parent company. He knew operations, and had good relationships with his customers.

    Recently those customers had been telling him that their sales were down because of competition from abroad. They allowed that John's products were the best on the market, but they were under tremendous pressure to reduce their costs, and they expected all their suppliers to do the same. John took their message seriously, and told his people what he'd heard.

    John's team agreed they could do a number of things to cut costs. They worked out a plan to close one of their four U.S. plants, consolidate three European plants into two, tighten other expenses wherever they could, and increase R&D spending to further distance their product from the competition's. Based on past experience and on what everyone present at the meeting knew, the plan looked realistic.

    Then the new CFO spoke up. He'd joined the company only recently and was seeing the issue from a broader perspective. "From my point of view, you appear to be heading down the wrong track," he said. "Your recommendations would be good if the problem was our traditional domestic competition. They might satisfy the customers in the short term. But I know for a fact that two of those customers have already started moving to China. The others will undoubtedly be doing the same soon. Don't they expect us to reduce our costs just as significantly? Closing a U.S. plant, consolidating in Europe, and cutting costs by a few percentage points won't do that."

    John looked around the room and noted that the other members of his team seemed just as uncomfortable as he felt. "I'm not sure what to do," the CFO continued, "but I urge you to consider the pros and cons of moving the whole operation to China or licensing our technology to a China-based supplier."

    John knew that lots of businesses were outsourcing to China these days. Still, the idea stunned him. It just didn't make sense for this company.

    "Mike," he said to the CFO. "This is not something we need to do-or even necessarily can do. You surely know that a lot of our differentiation comes from the application process. That's all about proprietary techniques and human experience. How could anybody duplicate...
About the Author-
  • Larry Bossidy is the retired chairman of the board and CEO of Honeywell International, a global $24 billion advanced technology, controls, and manufacturing company. He began his career at General Electric, where he served in a number of executive and financial positions, including COO of GE Capital, executive vice president and president of GE's Services and Materials Sector, and vice chairman and executive officer. In 1991 Mr. Bossidy joined AlliedSignal Inc. as chairman and CEO and merged the company with Honeywell in 1999.

    Ram Charan
    is a highly acclaimed business advisor, speaker, and author, well known for his practical, real-world perspective. He was a Baker Scholar at Harvard Business School where he earned his MBA degree with Distinction, as well as his DBA. Dr. Charan is also the author of What the CEO Wants You to Know, Profitable Growth Is Everyone's Business, The Leadership Pipeline, and Boards at Work. His articles have appeared in Fortune and Harvard
    Business Review.
Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine A fast-lane primer coaches business leaders on how they can succeed in the midst of today's enormous competition and change. After a lucid explanation of the sources of change, the authors explain their business model and teach how to create a business culture that anticipates change and creates effective leaders. Complex principles of today's world economy are condensed into insights that sound intuitive. Bossidy and Ram Charan debunk myths about the rapid changes in the needs of world markets for capital, labor, and leadership talent. They reference multi-nationals, but the advice here can help CEOs leading companies of any size. Free from psychobabble, this is a muscular and intellectual approach that will make listeners smile and make their competitive juices flow. T.W. (c) AudioFile 2005, Portland, Maine
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Confronting Reality
Doing What Matters to Get Things Right
Larry Bossidy
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