The Breakthrough Company

How Everyday Companies Become Extraordinary Performers

by Keith R. McFarland

Number of pages: 304

Publisher: Crown Business

BBB Library: Entrepreneurship, Operations Management

ISBN: 9780307352194

About the Author

Keith R. McFarland is an American consultant, author, and lecturer on leadership and business growth. He is a regular contributor to Businessweek and Inc. magazines.


Editorial Review

As hard as it is to grow a company, wouldn’t it be nice if there was a “recipe” for creating a company with sustained high performance? It is tempting to dream that if we could just find the right combination of ingredients—a cup of customer loyalty, two tablespoons of Blue Ocean Strategy, a dash of reengineering, and a pinch of Six Sigma—we could unlock the secrets of building breakthrough companies. But believing in that dream would be like believing that one could, after a lifetime of “painting by numbers”, suddenly produce a masterpiece. That just doesn’t happen. However if someone with a stroke of talent studies the work of great masters and comes to understand the interplay of light, color, structure and composition, and then spends hours playing with these aspects on his own canvas, he might create a great painting one day. The goal of aspiring chefs is to gain such a deep and visceral understanding of tastes and textures that they can create something wholly new and distinct—a breakthrough, so to speak. Breakthrough performance, whether in cooking, painting and /or growing a business, is hard.

Book Reviews

"In the spirit of Jim Collins’ Good to Great, author Keith R. McFarland undertook an extensive study of small growth companies that grew from $5 million to $250 million in revenue, comparing them with peer companies that didn’t fare as well." Venture Beat

"The best of recently published business books began when their authors or co-authors were intrigued by a question and conducted rigorous and extensive research to locate the answer to it. Jim Collins offers an excellent case in point." Examiner

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Wisdom to Share

If a company’s character gets reduced to a set of platitudes no one really believes in, much less acts on, the passion and commitment will fade away.

There are no permanent breakthrough companies.

Breakthrough is a journey, not a destination.

Those who fail to live up to those expectations don’t last

In a breakthrough company people at all levels should be high performers.

Many of the firms had hired consultants to help them define and articulate what would become their “core values.”

Three reasons companies fail to breakthrough is because they fear losing control, losing their expertise, and losing their financial freedom.

We were surprised to learn that entrepreneurial leaders, in fact, are often more risk averse than is popularly believed.

Leaders echoed a nearly identical business philosophy.

Most striking was the fact that all nine breakthrough companies had crowned the company in a powerful way.

Any leader and any organization can move toward greater organizational sovereignty.

Crowning the company appears to go much deeper than a leader’s personal humility.

Too many leaders, after they achieve some level of success, tend to make their organizations all about them.

Company’s leaders must put the interests of the firm above their own, harnessing the power of people at all levels in building the firm’s future.

In order to achieve breakthrough, a company’s leaders must be willing to crown the company.

Breakthrough companies are distinguished by their willingness to throw the dyno.

These are the breakthrough companies, the one always focused on the next challenge up ahead.

Some are satisfied to stay in the lower elevations.

Most businesses start out carving small but secure footholds at the lower elevations of some industry.

Growing a business can be a lot like rock climbing.

It is tempting to dream that if we could just find the right combination of ingredients, we could unlock the secrets of building breakthrough companies.