The Breakthrough Company: How Everyday Companies Become Extraordinary Performers

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Crown Publishing Group, Jan 15, 2008 - Business & Economics - 199 pages
19 Reviews
The vast majority of small businesses stay small—and not by choice. Only the most savvy and persistent—a tiny one tenth of one percent—break through to annual sales above $250 million. In The Breakthrough Company, Keith McFarland pinpoints how everyday companies become extraordinary, showing that luck is a negligible factor. Rather, breakthrough success turns out to be associated with a clearly identifiable set of strategies and skills that anyone in any business can emulate—from small startup to industry leader.

Encouraged by experts such as business legend Peter Drucker and Good to Great author Jim Collins to identify the drivers that enable a company to push past the entrepreneurial phase, McFarland spent five years building and analyzing the world’s largest growth-company performance database and interviewing more than 1,500 growth-company executives on four continents. His goal was simple: to identify the secrets of breakthrough.

The Breakthrough Company is the result. Winnowing a study pool of more than 7,000 companies down to nine that have made the transition to major-player status, McFarland highlights real-world tools and myth-busting insights that can be used by anyone wanting his or her business to join this exclusive circle. Among the book’s takeaways:

• Common wisdom holds that the founders and core entrepreneurial leaders of a company must step aside for the business to reach the next level. Not true—as long as founders “crown the company” instead of themselves.
• It’s not reckless to make ever-escalating bets on your company’s future, even going nose to nose with competitors many times your size. In fact, it turns out that the only safety comes in constantly upping the ante in exactly this way.
• A Business Bermuda Triangle does exist, gobbling up companies on the verge of breakthrough. Presented here are three ways to navigate this potentially deadly hazard successfully.
• However good you are—or think you are—you can’t do it alone. Learn how to surround your company with networks of outside resources, aka “scaffolding,” and how to enlist the aid of “insultants”—people who are willing to question a firm’s existing assumptions and ways of doing business.

With powerful and specific action steps concluding each chapter—and invaluable advice on virtually every page from business leaders who’ve taken their companies to extraordinary levels of growth and profitability—The Breakthrough Company is one of the most provocative, inspiring, and instructive business books you’ll ever read.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Review: The Breakthrough Company: How Everyday Companies Become Extraordinary Performers

User Review  - Goodreads

This book really resonated with me. Unlike most business books this one looked at a variety of smaller everyday businesses. Read full review

Review: The Breakthrough Company: How Everyday Companies Become Extraordinary Performers

User Review  - Goodreads

Great book to read in a group of co-workers if your organization is going through a strategy shift or if you are starting a completely new business. Read full review


Crowning the Company
Qbping the Ante
Building Company Character
Navigating the Business Bermuda Triangle
Erecting Scaffolding
Enlisting Insultants 167
Graduating from Tough Times U
Building Breakthrough Capabilities
Afierword PostBrealethroughAvoiding Breakdown 225
Research Note C 217

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About the author (2008)

At the age of twenty-six, KEITH R. McFARLAND was named associate dean of one of the nation’s leading business schools. He went on to serve as CEO of two top technology firms prior to establishing McFarland Strategy Partners, where he has advised hundreds of growth companies as well as industry leaders such as Microsoft, Motorola, and Morgan Stanley. Currently, McFarland is a columnist for BusinessWeek. He and and his family live just downhill from the ski lifts at Snowbird, Utah. For more information about Keith and this book go to

From the Hardcover edition.

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