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Avoiding the Alignment Trap in IT
December 2007
by David Shpilberg, Steve Berez, Rudy Puryear and Sachin Shah
Most companies already believe that information technology goals must be aligned with business goals to create value. Yet far fewer understand that alignment alone doesn't guarantee improved business performance. In fact, it can be a trap.

For more information on IT alignment and effectiveness, read "Avoiding the Alignment Trap in IT," by David Shpilberg, Steve Berez, Rudy Puryear and Sachin Shah in the Fall 2007 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review.

View a slide presentation on attaining both IT alignment and effectiveness.

China's new battleground: the "good-enough" market
September 2007
by Orit Gadiesh, Philip Leung and Till Vestring
A critical new battleground is emerging for companies seeking to establish, sustain or expand their presence in China: It's the "good-enough" market segment, home of reliable-enough products at low-enough prices to attract China's fast-growing midlevel consumers. And while the battle is being fought in China, it's becoming clear that China's middle-market space--where multinationals and Chinese firms are going at it head-to-head today--is the market segment from which the world's leading companies will emerge.

For more information on entering China's middle market, read "The Battle for China's Good-Enough Market" by Orit Gadiesh, Philip Leung and Till Vestring in the September 2007 issue of Harvard Business Review.

View a slide presentation on entering China's middle market.

How to make the most of your back office
June 2007
by Paul Rogers and Hernan Saenz
When back-office costs spiral and services fail to deliver, the reflex is often to cut support services across the board. But a recent Bain study of 37 companies-in industries ranging from consumer products to financial services to energy-shows that strategically trimming and reconfiguring support functions such as HR, finance and procurement is often smarter than making wholesale cuts. Done right, it can actually improve effectiveness as it reins in costs. Companies that focus on support services generate results, and they come in three flavors: higher revenues, more effective service and reduced costs.

For more information on improving your back-office effectiveness, read "Make your back office an accelerator" by Paul Rogers and Hernan Saenz in the March 2007 issue of Harvard Business Review. For more information on Bain's 2007 Management Tools and Trends Survey findings, read Management Tools and Trends 2007.

Listen to a podcast on on "G&A as an accelerator."

What to do when growth hits a wall
May 2007
by Chris Zook
What do most companies do when their formula for success has stalled? Many leap into new markets or consider risky mergers. But rarely do such moves pay off. Instead, we find that companies choosing instead to mine their hidden assets - assets they already possess but have failed to tap for maximum growth potential - can go from unsustainable to unstoppable growth.

Based on Chris Zook's latest book, Unstoppable: Finding Hidden Assets To Renew The Core And Fuel Profitable Growth (Harvard Business School Press, April 2007), the article below describes what to do when your company's growth hits a wall. It provides a simple framework for understanding how hidden assets can become the keys to transformation.

To learn more about hidden assets, read "Finding Your Next Core Business," by Chris Zook in the 2007 April issue of Harvard Business Review. Go to www.unstoppablegrowth.com to read more on Chris Zook's most recent book called Unstoppable: Finding Hidden Assets to Renew the Core and Fuel Profitable Growth. Read related Bain articles on finding hidden assets to renew your company's core.

Listen to a podcast on finding hidden assets or subscribe.
View a slide presentation on this topic

Human due diligence
April 2007
by David Harding and Ted Rouse
The success of most mergers and acquisitions hinges not on dollars but on people. Yet too often, deal makers simply ignore, defer, or underestimate the significance of people issues in M&A. They meticulously gather the necessary financial data but overlook what we call human due diligence-understanding the roles, capabilities and attitudes of employees at both companies.The article below, published recently in Harvard Business Review, describes how companies can analyze potential people problems before a deal is completed. I thought you might be interested in the topic.

For more information on how your company can analyze potential people problems before an M&A deal is completed, read "Human Due Diligence," by David Harding and Ted Rouse in the April 2007 issue of Harvard Business Review.

Listen to the podcast on "Human Due Diligence."

Borrowing from the private equity playbook
February 2007
by Michael Mankins
A cash mountain used to be considered a good thing-savings for a rainy day or a war chest for acquisitions. Today, it's a mixed blessing. For one thing, profitably emptying a war chest isn't as easy as it once was. As private equity firms hunt for big deals and bid up prices, strategic buyers are effectively being priced out of the market.

This article is adapted from a longer version, "Borrowing from the PE Playbook," which appeared in "Breakthrough Ideas for 2007" in Harvard Business Review in February.

Listen to the podcast on "The Cash Trap."

Private equity's new path to profits
February 2007
by Chris Bierly, Graham Elton and Chul-Joon Park
When a consortium of private equity firms teamed up with Edgar Bronfman Jr. to acquire the Warner Music Group for $2.6 billion in 2004, it looked as if they were in for a rough ride. The music industry was in the doldrums: Sales were slipping badly, while the cost of signing and marketing artists was climbing, and digital piracy was rampant. Yet, in less than two years, WMG management and the buyout partners had dramatically lifted the company's earnings, by reining in costs, tapping into digital distribution and bundling music and other content. The new owners had so transformed the company that they were able to take WMG public-and watch the stock rise until their equity stake, combined with dividends, was worth more than three times their initial investment.

Read more on the new hands-on approach private equity owners take to increase the value of acquisitions in the Bain Brief "Private Equity's Road Map to Profits."

Watch the audio slideshow on how to follow private equity's road map to success.