How ordinary managers in any economy
can do extraordinary things to build
sustainable growth engine
The Catalyst speaks to all managers who have ever been handed ambitious growth targets but little guidance on how to hit them. Managers like you who, year in and year out, face “the terror of the plug.” The boss expects you to deliver a daunting revenue target but offers little advice on how to get there. Even worse is “growth gridlock,” when your company won’t support your great ideas until you prove they’re good–which is impossible since you can’t get the proof until you’ve tried them out first. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, you spend your time persuading with PowerPoint presentations instead of pursuing opportunities.
What does it take to overcome such seemingly insurmountable roadblocks? How can you crack the code to discover and pursue new opportunities? How can smart organizations recruit growth leaders, train them, and learn from them instead of getting in their way? These are the questions explored in The Catalyst. Based on years of research, this inspiring book reveals that the most potent drivers of growth are unsung heroes who often go unnoticed: ordinary middle managers who do extraordinary things.
Intrigued by how some people were able to consistently deliver the numbers–despite both internal obstacles and highly challenging conditions in the marketplace–the authors discovered not only how they did it, but also the personal and psychological characteristics of those who succeeded. They distilled the lessons into practical tools, including:
• Turn lemons into lemonade: How what may appear to be flat or dead-end businesses can be turned into growth-oriented enterprises that create cool new products and tap new audiences.
• Get a bigger box: How not to just “think outside the box,” but create a bigger box by being wired for opportunity.
• Get rid of the monkey: Why the real monkey isn’t Corporate on your back, but Corporate in your head.
• It could be staring you right in the face: The hidden secret of growth is not relying only on development of dramatic new products or technological breakthroughs, but finding opportunities already there that are overlooked by the
• Do It. Now!: Breaking through growth gridlock comes from “learning by doing,” not through detailed analysis and planning.
The Catalyst is for people in the middle looking to free themselves from the shackles of business as usual–and deliver the organic growth that’s demanded of them. But it’s also for CEOs and CFOs who want to release the creativity lying dormant within their businesses.
From the Hardcover edition.
About Jeanne Liedtka
JEANNE LIEDTKA is a professor at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. Formerly the executive director of the school’s Batten Institute, Jeanne has consulted with a wide variety of organizations and their leaders, from museums to law firms to large corporations, since beginning her career as a strategy consultant for the Boston Consulting Group.
“Jeanne Liedtka has dedicated herself for years–with passion and rigor–to an inspired concept: people can build pockets of greatness deep inside any organization. Growth leadership is a choice, not a blessing from above–a choice made by largely unknown heroes who create exceptional enterprises, no matter what the bureaucratic obstacles. By studying these remarkable internal entrepreneurs and lending fresh insight as to how they achieve success, she has done the world of management a tremendous service.”
—Jim Collins, author of Good to Great and coauthor of Built to Last
“Bob Rosen, Jeanne Liedtka, and Rob Wiltbank unlock the secret to growth in today’s turbulent and uncertain times. The Catalyst is a must-read book for all leaders of the twenty-first century.”
—Marshall Goldsmith, bestselling author of What Got You There Won’t Get You There
“For anyone who really wants a practical, commonsense approach to how innovation and growth really happen . . . these guys have cracked the nut!”
—HARRY KRAEMER, former CEO of Baxter International and clinical professor of Management and Strategy, Kellogg School of Management
“The timing of this book couldn’t be better. When the markets are tough and you can still grow, you’ve really differentiated yourself–you’ve risen above. This book will show you how to develop a sustainable growth engine. We’ve used its principles at Harris and they work.”
—Howard L. Lance, chairman, president, and CEO, Harris Corporation
“Finally! A book that unlocks the secrets of the middle managers who create new innovative businesses inside the heart of big companies. This is Built to Last for the rest of us.”
—Gerry Langeler, director, OVP Venture Partners, and founder, Mentor Graphics Corp
“A radical, totally original book on how to create and sustain organic organizational growth. A must-read for all managers.”
—Warren Bennis, distinguished professor of business, University of Southern California, and coauthor of Transparency and Judgment
From the Hardcover edition.