The 10 steps to successful M&A integration
November 2009
by Ted Rouse and Tory Frame
To realize the promise of a deal, companies need to act fast on identifying value, keeping the right people and focusing the integration on critical decisions.

Innovation in turbulent times
September 2009
by Darrell Rigby, Kara Gruver and James Allen
Innovation is critical to recovery and growth, but a lot of companies feel pressure to cut back on innovation during turbulence, which is the wrong move. Read Bain's latest insights on how companies sustain innovation through good times and bad. The key findings in this newsletter are based on Bain's article "Innovation in Turbulent Times," recently published in the Harvard Business Review. This edition of the Bain Results Brief also contains our perspectives on private equity's new landscape and on IT strategy that builds a foundation for future growth.

Management Tools and Trends 2009
June 2009
by Darrell Rigby and Barbara Bilodeau
Bain & Company has been conducting global Management Tools and Trends surveys since 1993. Never before have we surveyed executives during a period of such economic turbulence. It is a sign of the times that a cost-cutting tool - Benchmarking - has become the most popular tool for the first time in 11 years. The latest questionnaire was conducted in January 2009 and reflects behavior in 2008. It was completed by 1,430 international executives from companies in a broad range of industries and focuses on 25 tools. Their answers provide insights into how they think their companies are performing in the downturn and where they believe their organizations ultimately are headed.

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The current economic downturn is likely to be steep, long and turbulent. What are the right moves now and over the coming months to adjust and play to your strengths?

In this series of articles published with Harvard Business Digital, downturn strategist Darrell Rigby and fellow partners at Bain & Company will take you through the tools and strategies you need to survive the current downturn and to improve your competitive position. Each article will focus on different aspects of how to survive - and win - in today's turbulent environment.

Winning in turbulence
by Darrell Rigby
Even a sharp downturn affects everyone differently. Each company has particular strengths and vulnerabilities. Each will have different answers to three critical questions: How is the slowdown affecting the industry I compete in? What is my company's strategic position within that industry? What level of financial resources can my company draw on to weather the downturn?

Innovation in turbulence
by Darrell Rigby, Kara Gruver and James Allen
Too few businesses have creative, right-brain types in leadership positions. That leaves innovation especially vulnerable to unwise cost cutting during hard times. Decisions about slashing versus retaining projects are made by analytic, left-brain leaders unsuited to evaluating innovation portfolios. Savvy companies manage this challenge by creating partnerships at the top that consist of an imaginative, right-brain creative director and a commercially minded, left-brain brand CEO. The authors call these alliances "both-brain" teams.

Downturns create an opportunity to strengthen IT
by Donie Lochan and Sachin Shah
Downturns create opportunities for businesses to take advantage of weaker players and improve their competitive position. Gains made in a downturn are more likely to sustain companies through the next boom cycle. That's why winning companies view IT cost-cutting as a chance to strengthen the business.

Turbocharge sales
by Dianne Ledingham and Darrell Rigby
When companies are hit with declining sales and shrinking margins, the options can start to look bleak. Attacking one challenge-by raising or lowering prices, for example-can make the other worse. But one powerful way to shore up both sales and margins in a downturn is to make your salesforce more effective.

The power of managing complexity
by Mark Gottfredson and Darrell Rigby
Downturns reveal a company's weaknesses. An organization that seemed nimble and focused during a period of expansion may be sluggish and ineffectual when faced with declining demand. Its very survival may depend on determining which products are making money, what customers really value, and which organizational bottlenecks are getting in the way of effective action.

Preserving the G&A that really fuels revenue
by Hernan Saenz and Darrell Rigby
In a recession, general and administrative (G&A) functions are often targets for indiscriminate cuts. They should be lean, but also muscular to effectively support the revenue-producers on the front lines.

Cash is not only king, it's strategic
by Darrell Rigby and David Sweig
"Cash is king" takes on new meaning in a downturn. Analyzing its flows can provide direction and competitive advantage as rivals struggle with liquidity.

Clarify strategy: choose where and how to win
by James Allen and Darrell Rigby
The goal of strategy in a downturn is to help position you for growth, as weaker competitors are eliminated. To build that strategy, you need to know exactly where you will compete, how you plan to win and how you will mobilize the organization to implement the strategy.

Pursue game-changing M&A and partnerships
by David Harding and Darrell Rigby
For companies that are relatively strong strategically and financially, recessions present rare opportunities to improve their competitive position through acquisitions and partnerships.

Protect and grow customer loyalty
by Rob Markey and Darrell Rigby
Loyal customers cost less to serve. They concentrate spending with companies they trust. And they help stretch marketing dollars through word-of-mouth referrals. The powerful advantages of customer loyalty help explain why the biggest changes in market share occur during downturns.

Strengthen the organization
by Marcia Blenko and Darrell Rigby
Adopting a "decision lens"-by identifying the critical decisions and determining what needs to change so the organization can make and execute those decisions effectively-is the single most important step a company can take to improve the performance of its organization. It helps focus leaders where their efforts have the most impact, and positions the company to accelerate when the economy turns around.

Price for today and tomorrow
by Ouriel Lancry and Darrell Rigby
Most companies need to lower prices in a downturn. But the range of outcomes can vary widely. And pricing decisions made now are likely to affect customers' perceptions for a long time to come. What matters most is how effectively companies manage pricing.