Press release

World's top companies succeed nearly five times more often with 'Great Repeatable Models'

World's top companies succeed nearly five times more often with 'Great Repeatable Models'

Eighty-five percent of almost 400 executives surveyed find that internal complexity is the “silent killer” of sustainable growth—not a lack of market opportunities

  • March 07, 2012
  • min read

Press release

World's top companies succeed nearly five times more often with 'Great Repeatable Models'



Eighty-Five Percent of Almost 400 Executives Surveyed Find That Internal Complexity is the “Silent Killer” of Sustainable Growth—Not a Lack of Market Opportunities

New York, NY—March 07, 2012—A new book by top business strategists, Chris Zook and James Allen—co-heads of Bain & Company’s global strategy practice—explains why the top 10 percent and best-performing companies captured 85 percent of global market value in the first decade of the new millennium. According to the authors, nearly half of what differentiates the best performers from the worst, in any industry, lies in how these Great Repeatable Model companies exemplify three simple, yet powerful, business principles. Their latest book, Repeatability: Build Enduring Businesses for a World of Constant Change (Harvard Business Review Press, March, 2012) advances the concepts first articulated by Zook and Allen more than a decade ago in their groundbreaking analysis of sustained value creation from Profit from the Core (HBRP 2001).

New growth initiatives—organic or by acquisition—have success rates of only about 20–25 percent according to Zook and Allen. Wholesale redefinition, they claimed, rarely works. “The most successful growth strategies consist of a business model that allows the company’s greatest successes to be tailored to new areas with the positive result repeated,” the authors added.

The three powerful yet simple business principles of Great Repeatable Model companies are:

  • Principle No. 1 – A Well-Differentiated Core: With their proprietary company database, the authors found that 93 percent of the top 20 percent of performers had some strong form of differentiation in their core. They classify 15 types of differentiation – from low cost to differentiated product or service – that help top performers stand out three times better than the bottom 30 percent of performers, and demonstrate with company examples.
  • Principle No. 2 – Clear “Non-negotiables”: Companies with Great Repeatable Models also have well-defined core principles that are widely and easily shared within the company, from top executives down to employees on the front line. Such shared principles, specifically defined by the authors, have among the highest correlations to business performance. In fact, Zook and Allen’s research shows that this is the number one place where strategies break down, accounting for roughly 50 percent of the yield loss. “Nonegotiables form the 'Commander’s Intent'” of business,” said the authors. “They act to reduce the distance between the CEO and the front lines.”
  • Principle No. 3 – Closed-Loop Learning: Top performers have developed learning processes to help them adapt faster than their competitors. For example, they may have developed methods to gather instant, actionable feedback from customers. Speed of adaptation is key. As the authors noted: “Business history is littered with great business models—like Kodak, General Motors, Xerox and Sony—that eventually succumbed to their ‘arrested adaptation’ and not being able to change fast enough.”

The authors drew on significant primary data sources including a comprehensive survey of 377 global executives, a database of 8,000 global companies tracking strategy against results over 25 years, and another database of 200 companies tracking practices, business models, and performance. The book features 30 case examples, many with executive interviews, and focused analysis on groups of high performers. Companies featured include:

  • AmBev
  • American Express
  • Amore Pacific
  • Apple
  • ASML
  • Bain Capital
  • Berkshire Hathaway
  • BHP Billiton
  • Cisco
  • Danaher
  • DaVita
  • Dell
  • Endemol
  • Enterprise
  • Express Scripts
  • FloraHolland
  • Gore
  • Hankook Tire
  • Harley-Davidson
  • Hilti
  • Huawei
  • IKEA
  • ITT
  • Larsen & Toubro
  • LEGO
  • Li & Fung
  • LVMH
  • Medtronic
  • MSC
  • Nike
  • Nine Dragons
  • Nokia
  • Novozymes
  • Olam
  • P&G
  • Publix
  • Reckitt Benckiser
  • Scania
  • Sherwin-Williams
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Sodexo
  • Starbucks
  • Tesco
  • Tetra Pak
  • Toyota
  • TSMC
  • Unilever
  • UTC
  • Vanguard
  • Vodafone
  • Vopak

Editor’s Note: For information on obtaining a copy of the book and to arrange an interview with Chris Zook or James Allen, please contact Dan Pinkney at or +1 646 562 8102.

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