The Breakthrough Company

November 19th, 2008 by Darin Herle

It’s been a few months since our last book review, so I thought I’d summarize some recent prose making its way around the office I had the opportunity to curl up with…

btcThe Breakthrough Company“, by Keith Mcfarland, is business non-fiction, written in a style and approach not unlike “Good to Great” and “Built to Last” (themselves, classic business fodder for entrepeneurs and managers). Keith’s book, in an effort to determine what makes small companies grow into large ones, summarizes several years worth of tireless research into 7 central tenets; common attributes that define these “breakthrough” companies. Certainly not one to ruin a movie’s ending, I’ll leave it to the reader to decide for themselves if these tenets seem plausible.

Overall, I’m a sucker for business case studies, and the book doesn’t dissapoint in this arena. Intuit (TurboTax and Quickbooks) and Polaris (ATVs) are profiled (amongst many others), and it is fascinating to review the “story” behind their success. What I found difficult to accept as part of the book’s premise was the seemingly tight correlation between success and the attributes these companies held – this seemed like classic attribution bias to me. Couple this with the outsized success we would expect a handful of companies to experience during the course of their growth, and all of a sudden analysts are seeing patterns in random events, from which they’re drawing inaccurate conclusions. Overall, I think the tenets presented in the book are valid business advice, but fuel for breakthrough companies alone? No. Timeless food for thought for managers bent on delighting their customers and scaling new heights?

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