The Three Tensions: Winning the Struggle to Perform Without Compromise
Dominic Dodd and Ken Favaro
Description and Reviews
From The Publisher:
A manager argued that he could either increase his business unit's margins or its sales, but not both. His chief executive reminded him of the time when people lived in mud huts and faced the stark choice between light and heat: punch a hole in the side of your hut and you let the daylight in but also the cold, or block up all the openings and you stay warm but sit in darkness. The invention of glass made it possible to overcome the dilemma—to let in the light but not the cold. How then, he asked his manager, will you resolve your dilemma between no sales or no margin improvement? Where is the glass? —From the Introduction
Profitability or growth? Results today or tomorrow? More synergy or better stand-alone performance? Ask managers which they want and most will tell you both. But they will also tell you that more progress on one front usually comes with less progress on the other. It's like squeezing a balloon in one place only to find that it expands elsewhere.
Based on four decades of experience working with some of the world's best-known companies, Dominic Dodd and Ken Favaro explore the three tensions every company faces and how to overcome them. They draw on groundbreaking research into the 20-year performance of more than 1,000 companies and on in-depth discussions with 20 chairmen and CEOs of corporations such as Alcan, Barclays, BP, Cadbury Schweppes, Cardinal Health, Dow Jones, Gillette, Reuters, Roche, Textron, and Xerox.
The authors put forward a radical new way to assess company performance: batting average—a measure of how often competing objectives are achieved at the same time. They show how this matters more than any other single measure of operating performance. And they explain how you can raise your batting average to unlock better performance.
Managers in any type of organization, at any level, will find The Three Tensions an invaluable source of new ideas and practical advice.
"To win, leaders have to push their companies beyond trade-offs. They must find strong growth at premium returns, not one or the other. They must deliver great results today and build for the future at the same time, not push for earnings that can't be sustained. The Three Tensions is about having both at the same time, more of the time. I recommend it to any manager serious about winning."
—James Kilts, former chairman, CEO, and president, The Gillette Company
"Leadership can't be just about telling people what you expect of them. The Three Tensions sets out a range of helpful tactics leaders can adopt to really engage their people in the search for good performance on many fronts."
—Andrew Cosslett, chief executive, InterContinental Hotels Group PLC
"The Three Tensions speaks to fundamental management issues, perhaps the most fundamental. Managers looking for new ideas on how to improve performance will find it very stimulating. I found my own thinking very much influenced by it."
—John Roberts, professor of economics, strategic management, and international business, Stanford Business School
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About the Authors
The authors are from Marakon Associates, called by Fortune magazine "the best-kept secret in consulting" and by The Economist "a consultancy that has advised some of the world's most consistently successful companies."
Dominic Dodd is a senior advisor of Marakon Associates. Since joining the firm in 1989, he has been a managing partner and Marakon's worldwide director of marketing and communications. He lives in London. Ken Favaro is co-chairman of Marakon Associates. In his 22 years with the firm, he has been regional managing partner for Europe and has served two terms as Marakon's chief executive. He lives in New York.
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