Escape Velocity: Free Your Company's Future from the Pull of the Past Hardcover – Sep 6 2011
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“A pragmatic framework to help mature enterprises escape the pull of their pasts and embrace the new reality of work.” (John Chen, CEO, Sybase)
From the Back Cover
From the world’s leading high-tech strategist comes the definitive road map to help established companies create next-generation growth.
Geoffrey Moore’s now-classic Crossing the Chasm became a must-read book by presenting an innovative framework to address the make-or-break obstacle facing all high-tech companies: how to gain market share from early adopters and from mainstream consumers.
Based on twenty years’ experience advising the top leaders of many of the world’s most successful enterprises, Moore’s Escape Velocity offers a pragmatic plan to engage the most critical challenge that established enterprises face in the twenty-first-century economy: how to move beyond past success and drive next-generation growth from new lines of business.
As he worked with senior management teams, Moore repeatedly found that executives were trapped by short-term performance-based compensation schemes. The result was critical decision-makers overweighting their legacy commitments, an embarrassingly low success rate in new-product launches, and a widespread failure to sustain any kind of next-generation business at scale.
In Escape Velocity, Moore presents a cogent strategy for generating future growth within an established enterprise. Organized around a hierarchy of powers—category power, company power, market power, offer power, and execution power—this insightful work shows how each level of power can be orchestrated to achieve overall success. Moore explains
- how to use mergers and acquisitions as well as organic innovation to systematically migrate an enterprise’s portfolio out of lower-growth and into higher-growth categories;
- how to reallocate resources across an enterprise in deliberately asymmetrical ways to create a powerful and sustainable foundation for a long-term competitive advantage;
- how to leverage target-market initiatives as accelerants to growth and as stepping-stones to broad overall category success;
- how to create unmatchable offerings by being swift to neutralize competitors’ innovations and laser-focused on driving in-house innovations to make a business impervious to competitors;
- how to fundamentally change the execution cadence of an organization, pushing change from innovation to broad deployment, creating an irreversible tipping point along the way.
Drawing from thousands of hours spent face-to-face with CEOs and their teams, Moore presents case examples and best practices. While his experience is deeply rooted in the high-tech sector, his models and techniques apply well beyond this arena, including to the public sector.
At a time when the world is looking to established enterprises for growth and stability, Moore’s analysis is penetrating and his prescriptions are right on the mark. Escape Velocity gives executives and their teams a practical way forward to take advantage of the opportunities amid industry and economic disruptions.See all Product Description
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One especially significant result of that organizational vulnerability is that it precludes exposure to what Moore characterizes as "secular market change." That is, a "not to be repeated" expansion of the market that occurs whenever a new category or a new class of customers is brought on board. That expansion "stands in contrast to [begin italics] cyclical growth [end italics], which refers to the ongoing returns from an established market, one in which the customers and the category remain the same and power shuttles here and there among various vendors and their latest offers. The key point here is, you can make a mistake with cyclical growth and still have plenty of chances to get yourself back in the game. That is not the case, however, with secular change. Missing out on the opportunities it offers "is a disaster.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Moore is a well-established innovator, thinker and marketing expert in the Silicon Valley. His prior books like Crossing the Chasm, Dealing with Darwin, etc. are foundational in the tech industry. This book leverages these prior works, but it does not require you to have read them. Suggestion if you are looking to read a companion work I would suggest Crossing the Chasm as it is related to the topics discussed in Escape Velocity. This book is not a rehash of his market adoption model. Rather it is a new set of tools concerning how you think about, develop and execute new strategies that break you out of last year plus 10% thinking.
What makes this book highly recommended is that Moore offers a broad set of tools that work outside of tech to give executives and leaders real tools that they need right now. This book is a model for a business book that is actionable, practical and deep enough to help you apply the ideas while still being engaging and interesting.
The book organizes itself around a hierarchy of powers that together shape a market, companies competing in that market and the products and services they offer in that market. The powers are:
Category Power - the demand for a class of products, for example smart phones, fuel-efficient cars, or energy bars.
Company Power - the relative status and prospect for your company compared with peers. For example: Nokia vs. Samsung, Honda vs. Ford, Cliff vs. Kashi
Market Power - the company's power relative to a market segment, for example Subway in Quick Service Restaurants.
Offer Power - the demand for a product or service relative to reference competitors. The classic here is Whopper vs. Big Mac.
Execution Power - the ability to outperform competitors under equal conditions
The remaining chapters in the book concentrate on each of these powers, what they are, how they work, tools for applying them and at least two specific case studies that illustrate their importance. Put all of this together and you get a powerful and actionable playbook for creating new market strategies.
Moore does surprisingly little pontification on market strategies, something common in other marketing related books. Instead he shows you via 13 tools that you can use found in each of the powers. To give you an example of the completeness of this book, here is a list of the tools it contains:
- Category maturity lifecycle
- Growth/Maturity Matrix
- Horizon model
- Competitive separation
- Two-business architecture model
- Crown Jewels model
- Nine point market strategy framework
- Retain or innovate model
- Six levers model
- Price/Benefit model
- Core/context model
- The arc of execution
Listing all of these models may give the impression that the book is more of an encyclopedia or compendium than a book that makes an actionable argument. Nothing could be further from reality. Moore uses his experience, the central thesis of the book and case studies to describe why certain things have happened, why leaders made different decisions and the results of those decisions.
Moore finishes the book with a discussion of how you use these tools to transform you execution, vision or strategy. This brings the toolset together and demonstrates that these tools work in practice rather than in theory.
Escape Velocity is a culmination of Moore's other works. Rather than simply restating them in today's context, Moore is sharing the fundamental tools leaders can use to develop and execute their company's strategies. This is one of those rare books that should be purchased, studied, annotated and tried in your company. Not every tool will fit, but the book gives you enough support such that you can make that judgment for yourself.
This sounds like a gushing review, this book has been one of the best I have read in 2011, but it does have some flaws. The examples and cases concentrate on high-tech, which may turn off some. The requirement for a leader that is willing to make asymmetric investments in new products and services is true, but under developed in the book. The book covers Moore's personal experience, which will make some see it as a digital infomercial. I believe these weak points exist, but this book is more than worth your time and attention.
A suggestion, buy the hardcopy as you will be making notes throughout the book, dog earing pages, etc. I read it on an eReader, which is great, but now using it as a reference is not the same as a hard copy. You will use this book as a future reference.
Highly Recommended for any business executive who feels that their current strategy has lost its potency, punch and ability to drive sales
In Escape Velocity Mr. Moore sets up circumstances in which businesses struggle with a transition from existing products and services to the products and services that will replace them.
I have two quick observations: first, this book is clearly about business-to-business marketing. If you are in the B2B space, there are some lessons here, but this book clearly is not aimed at you. Second, since Mr. Moore is involved with tech companies, his examples are almost exclusively tech examples. Not so narrow as not to be interesting, but perhaps limited for readers who are in, say, insurance or construction.
Moore's theme is that there is a hierarchy of strategy, which he labels powers. (It is my interpretation that these are strategy equivalents). Specifically and in order: Category Power, Company Power, Market Power, Offer Power and Execution Power. He sets up his argument with examples of enterprises where strong legacy products exist and the enterprise gets the majority of its cash flow from those. Some more forward-thinking members of the firm envision the next generation product and begin scratching for resources to advance those. In his view as presented in this book, far too many firms are too reluctant or at least too slow to free up the best people and adequate capital to support the new. The old-world firm that I would point to as the exemplar of the opposite is Gillette, which has steadily and relentlessly pushed its lead in razors and razor blades, cannibalizing the old product.
The chapters after the set-up describe each of the five "powers" with prescriptions on how to fight organization inertia and obtain adequate funding to identify the most promising new products and harvest the old.
Overall, I would describe this as a useful management book. More relevant for tech space readers, and most relevant for B2B tech space readers.
There is a hierarchy of strategy, beginning with Category, Company, Market, Offer, and ending with Execution. Being able to enter new categories and exit old ones is fundamental to freeing a company from the pull of the past. Category power is a function of the demand for a given class of products or services - those in high demand (eg. smart phones, cloud computing) grow faster and typically enjoy better profit margins, while those in a low-power category (eg. desktop computers, e-mail) involve small margins. Company power reflects that status of a specific vendor relative to its competitors, generally signaled by its market share. The same company can have different levels of company power in different categories. Tier 1 companies include G.M., IBM, HP, Microsoft, Dell, Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook. Tier 2 companies have brand recognition - Volvo, Sony, eg. LG, while Tier 3 companies are the 'unbranded' with no company power. The focus should be on advantages ('crown jewels') that can be leveraged in the present to change one's state. Competing in secular growth markets requires differentiation such that one's offers are unmatchable, and that in turn requires radical changes such as outsourcing or partnering that involve high-visibility and potentially career-limiting risks. Leaders persist in doing such because they're more externally than internally focused and want to make a difference; the 'lead' first and 'manage' second. Managing first is the result of focusing internally - eg. HP missed the Internet during the 1990s because it was focused on expanding successes in high-margin/low-growth client-server computing. Similarly with Xerox and its Palo Alto Research Center innovations, and Motorola's failure to put out a smart-phone prior to Apple. Market power is company power within a single market segment. Market segment leaders are perceived to be the safe buy within the targeted segment. Examples: Cisco is the clear leader in switching and routing, while Juniper has the lead in the telecommunications segment, SAP dominates the ERP category while Lawson Software has the #1 position in U.S. health care. Offer power is a function of the demand for a given product/service relative to its reference competitors. Examples include Apple's iPhone, Google search, and Facebook. Microsoft Office one had what was thought to be insurmountable competitive separation, but now is being commoditized by 'good enough' alternatives from Google. Execution power is the ability to outperform your competitive set under conditions that favor no vendor in particular.
Category Power has a life cycle - emerging, growth, mature, declining, and end-of-life. Emerging categories are a challenge for established enterprises - entailing high risks with highly variable rewards and demand a lot of top-flight resources - counter to the expectations investors have for current-quarter performance gains. For start-ups, on the other hand, emerging categories are a godsend - putting incumbents in their weakest possible position and creating openings for non-name disrupters and offering investors a great return from a handful of winners. Once early adopters have accepted a new product category, sales growth becomes secular one-time-only affair and a market share land grab is underway. Since it is not yet certain who will be the winner, all participants get a valuation bonus based on the possibility of their becoming the winner. Price-earnings ratios are highest during this phase of the category life cycle. However, established enterprises now have powerful competitive advantages - global sales and service footprints and brand credibility. Venture-backed enterprises are increasingly glad to get acquired during this stage. On the other hand, if incumbents persist in the status quo they risk being left out. There is no time to optimize - go ugly early. (The latter is also advantageous to start-ups because they have no brand reputation to protect.) The mature stage is where the overwhelming bulk of economic returns are generated. They offer stability and predictability - market leadership position changes very slowly and established enterprises dominate. Optimize now. Decline is a secular change - it's only going to get worse. Established enterprises are the only players of merit at this stage. There can be a converge of high value, low risk, and low need for investment. Public-market investors discount the prospects of businesses in this stage; private-equity buyout firms love these businesses because they can take them over, shut down all investments in the future, and play out present assets as profitably as possible. End-of-life is the end of commercial viability - telegrams, rotary phones, slide rules, etc. Staying too long can be tragic - eg. Kodak's last foray into next-generation film, Blockbuster Video's brick-and-mortar-only expansion are examples.
Moore then constructs a portfolio matrix: High-growth (30% or more) vs. low-growth (single-digits) on the horizontal axis, with 'material to current financials' (5-10% of total revenue or total profit) and 'not material' on the vertical. Microsoft, Intel, IBM, Oracle, HP, SAP, and Dell have world-class franchises in the mature stage and can renew growth via next-generation product releases in the same categories. None, however, in the past decade or more have been able to organically produce a major franchise in the growth stage - they've been predominantly stuck in 'low-growth' + 'mature.' Apple, Google, Cisco, etc. have introduced at least one category into its portfolio in the past decade that has become both high growth and significantly material. Moore then introduces the 'Three Horizons Model' from McKinsey/The Alchemy of Growth. Horizon 1 investments are expected to contribute to material returns in the same fiscal year they are brought to market, Horizon 2 are expected to pay back in a subsequent year, and Horizon 3 are investments that will pay off beyond the current planning horizon. Horizon 1 managers jealously guard their resources (encouraged per the compensation plan), to the disadvantage of Horizon 2 market-developing managers. It takes more resources to generate added revenue in Horizon 2 than Horizon 1. (Horizon 3 is exempt - it is not yet in need of resources for market-facing teams.)
One especially significant result of that organizational vulnerability is that it precludes exposure to what Moore characterizes as "secular market change." That is, a "not to be repeated" expansion of the market that occurs whenever a new category or a new class of customers is brought on board. That expansion "stands in contrast to [begin italics] cyclical growth [end italics], which refers to the ongoing returns from an established market, one in which the customers and the category remain the same and power shuttles here and there among various vendors and their latest offers. The key point here is, you can make a mistake with cyclical growth and still have plenty of chances to get yourself back in the game. That is not the case, however, with secular change." Missing out on the opportunities it offers "is a disaster."
Those who have read one or more of Moore's previous books already know that he is a visionary pragmatist with exceptional analytical and writing skills. I think that Escape Velocity will prove to be his most important book thus far, given the timing of its appearance during an extended period of economic turbulence and organizational disruption. I agree with him that leaders must ask the right questions (please see Pages 10-11) and then obtain the correct answers to them. In order to free themselves and their organization from - and then remain free of -- the "pull of the past," they must formulate and then execute an escape-velocity strategy. How? Focus on three separate but interdependent initiatives:
1. Innovate sufficiently to achieve competitive separation in the domain of invention.
2. Institutionalize what achieves the separation so it can be scaled and sustain in the domain of deployment.
3. Drive the transition from invention to deployment to a tipping point "such that the world will go forward as newly aligned and not fall back into its old ways."
Throughout his lively and eloquent narrative, Moore explains how to create, apply, and sustain four types of power and devotes a separate chapter to each: Category (i.e. reengineering portfolio management), Company (i.e. making asymmetrical bets), Market (i.e. capitalizing on markets in transition), Offer (i.e. breaking the ties that bind), and Execution (i.e. engineering the escape). It should be noted that, in the Introduction, Moore duly notes that under certain conditions, an established player's standard operating procedure (e.g. operational gains from mature markets), "does not result, in and of itself, in bad economic results." However, a key point, the "players" (be they new or established) do not sink "into a fixed legacy position." Each adopted one or more of the 13 different models or frameworks that, Moore points out, are "nestled inside one or another level in the Hierarchy of Powers" he thoroughly examines in Chapters 2-6 and then reviews in the final chapter.
In my opinion, this is one of the most important business books published in recent years and its relevance will increase exponentially for years to come. Bravo!