Think Big, Act Small: How America's Best Performing Companies Keep the Start-up Spirit Alive

Think Big, Act Small: How America's Best Performing Companies Keep the Start-up Spirit Alive

by Jason Jennings


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Tradition says there are three ways to grow a company’s profits: Fire up the sales team with empty promises, cut costs and downsize, or cook the books. But what if there’s a better way—a way that nine amazingly profitable and well-run companies are already embracing?

Jason Jennings and his research team screened more than 100,000 Amer­ican companies to find nine that rarely end up on magazine covers, yet have increased revenues and profits by ten percent or more for ten consecutive years. Then they interviewed the leaders, workers, and customers of these quiet super­stars to find the secrets of their astoundingly consistent and profitable growth.

What they have in common is a culture—a community—based on a shockingly simple precept: Think big, but act small. It works for retailers like PETCO, Cabela’s, and O’Reilly Automotive, manufacturers like Medline Industries, service compa­nies like Sonic Drive-In, private educational companies like Strayer, industrial giants like Koch Enterprises, and software companies like SAS.

These companies think big ideas about solving customers’ problems, making better products, and creating value. And yet they never stop acting like start-ups—staying humble, treating every employee like the owner, and teaching managers to get their hands dirty.

Jennings and his researchers have updated this book with new stories and insights about why these companies continue to thrive—through the economic downturn—and have now increased revenues and profits for fifteen consecu­tive years. Any company, no matter the size or industry, can benefit from fol­lowing their examples.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781591843931
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/02/2012
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 518,240
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Jason Jennings is the bestselling author of four highly acclaimed leadership and management books—Hit the Ground Running; Think Big, Act Small; Less Is More; and It’s Not the Big That Eat the Small . . . It’s the Fast That Eat the Slow. USA Today called him one of the three most in-demand business speakers in the world.


Table of Contents

Preface to the Paperback Edition ix

Introduction: The Holy Grail for Growth xiii

Section 1 Think Big 1

Section 2 The Building Blocks 9

1 Down to Earth 11

2 Keep Your Hands Dirty: SAS Institute 28

3 Make Short-Term Goals and Long-Term Horizons: Sonic Drive-In 44

4 Let Go: Cabela's 61

5 Have Everyone Think and Act Like the Owner: Koch Industries 81

6 Invent New Businesses: Dot Foods 105

7 Create Win-Win Solutions: Medline Industries 126

8 Play Your Own Game: PETCO Animal Supplies 146

9 Build Communities: Strayer Education 168

10 Grow Future Leaders: O'Reilly Automotive 187

Section 3 The Quad: A Self-Evaluation and Ranking 209

Section 4 The Research: Eating an Elephant 225

Section 5 Charts 243

Conclusion by Brain Solon, lead researcher 253

Acknowledgments 257

Index 267

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Jennings has laid it out for you, Mr./Mrs. Corporate Executive. Now do you have the guts to implement what he says? This book is in the same class as Good to Great. I wish I had written it.” —Guy Kawasaki, author of Enchantment and The Art of the Start

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