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Big Winners and Big Losers

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Big Winners and Big Losers

The 4 Secrets of Long-Term Business Success and Failure

Wharton School Publishing,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Are you a market leader or a market loafer? Four qualities will determine your fate.

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Editorial Rating



  • Applicable
  • Well Structured


Alfred A. Marcus’s book is so clear and easy to read you may think it’s simple to identify and practice his main ideas. That is deceptive. Marcus identifies four qualities that define winning companies and four qualities that define losers. In analyzing why some companies are profitable year after year, the author focuses on nine “big winners” and nine “big losers.” He isolates their characteristics, and uses narratives, numbers and charts to illustrate the winning strategies they use to develop market dominance. He admits that identifying winning qualities in other companies is easier than recognizing them in your own organization. Are you disciplined in maintaining your core vision, or do you tend to be rigid and cling to exhausted strategies? Sometimes, the answers are clear only in retrospect, often when it’s too late. Nevertheless, getAbstract finds that the author’s insistence on utilizing core business principles is applicable in any market.


Big Winners Occupy Sweet Spots

Four basic qualities define winning companies. They occupy a “sweet spot” in the market, and possess agility, discipline and focus. Residing in a prime slot means offering valuable products that are hard to imitate or replace. This isn’t easy. You need to offer low prices and a unique product in an attractive package. You also need to define and defend your niche, because once you find and fill it, competitors will find you.

Examine your organization for the positive qualities of winning companies and nurture them. Focus on identifying the elements of your process, product or model that staked your claim to the sweet spot in the first place.

The other three qualities of big winners are agility, discipline and focus, but integrating them is a challenge because these qualities clash. Agility means being able to move quickly, but discipline means holding your current position, and focus requires maintaining your vision. You will need to negotiate trade-offs continually; each time you move quickly in pursuit of one goal, you give up another.

Agility is essential; it is how you create future successes and value. Communicate this...

About the Author

Author or co-editor of eleven books, Alfred A. Marcus is Edson Spencer Chair of Strategic Management and Technological Leadership at the University of Minnesota.

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