What Really Works: The 4+2 Formula for Sustained Business Success

Managers burned too often by following the latest highly touted formula for business success will welcome this cogent summary of a wide-ranging, systematic study about fundamental practices associated with long-term corporate health. In What Really Works: The 4+2 Formula for Sustained Business Success, Joyce, a Dartmouth business professor, and his collaborators surveyed hundreds of companies from 1986 to 1996 to correlate superior corporate performance with the companies’ adherence to 200 commonly used practices. Companies they identify as winners consistently followed successful practices in all four of the primary areas (strategy, execution, culture and structure) and any two secondary areas (talent, leadership, innovation, and mergers and partnerships). The key to long-term success, they argue, is implementing effective programs in the six areas simultaneously.

After analyzing the data, the authors concluded that a company following this “4+2” formula over the 1986-1996 period had a better than 90% chance of being a winner. Anecdotes from the successful companies will interest general business readers, but the contrast with the experience of companies that stumbled should be particularly instructive. Replete with incisive discussions of various companies’ approaches for each of the four primary and four secondary areas of practice, the book also offers summaries of the study results in table format. For managers who wonder how anybody can keep six areas of practice fine-tuned at the same time, the authors agree it may be a challenge, but point to their wealth of success stories to show it isn’t impossible.

“Forget the fads. Here are eight big, basic, proven building blocks of long-term company success.” (Harvard Business Review )

To help you assess your organization’s potential for success and to pinpoint areas where your organization may be lagging, we’ve developed an assessment tool, based on the 4 +2 formula. Please contact us to take this short, highly powerful assessment today and develop a scorecard for your company that will show you how you rate on the key factors that propel the growth of the world’s most successful companies.