What It Takes: Seven Secrets of Success from the World's Greatest Professional Firms

What It Takes: Seven Secrets of Success from the World's Greatest Professional Firms

Hardback

By (author) Charles D. Ellis

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  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Inc
  • Format: Hardback | 304 pages
  • Dimensions: 155mm x 231mm x 28mm | 499g
  • Publication date: 22 March 2013
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 1118517725
  • ISBN 13: 9781118517727
  • Sales rank: 304,416

Product description

This book offers expert insights on what sets the great professional firms apart from all the rest. Having devoted a career that spans fifty years to consulting with and studying professional firms in the Americas, Asia, and Europe, author Charles Ellis learned firsthand how difficult it is for an organization to go beyond very good and attain, as well as sustain, excellence. Now, he shares his hard-won insights with you and reveals "what it takes" to be best-in-class in any industry. Enlightening and entertaining, "What It Takes" explores firms that are leaders in their particular field and the superior people who create and maintain them. Along the way, it identifies the secrets of their long-term success and reveals exactly how they can put your organization in a better position to excel when properly executed. It contains many stories of achieving excellence, and addresses the obstacles that top-ranking organizations face in sustaining it. It includes insights on leaders in their particular field-from McKinsey & Company in consulting and Cravath, Swaine & Moore in law to the Mayo Clinic in healthcare. It is written by one of the most experienced and respected business consultants/advisors of our time. "What It Takes" skillfully shows you how innovation and a commitment to excellence can drive success, while also revealing how easy it is to fall behind. With it, you'll discover what separates the great firms from the good ones and learn how to attain, and maintain, organizational success throughout the years.

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Author information

Charles D. Ellis was for three decades managing partner of Greenwich Associates, the international business strategy consulting firm. A popular teacher, he has taught advanced courses on investing at the business schools of both Harvard and Yale, is the author of fifteen books, including the bestselling Winning the Loser's Game, has served on the governing boards of Yale University, Harvard Business School, Exeter, NYU Stern, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and chairs the Whitehead Institute.

Back cover copy

"praise for "WHAT IT TAKES"This is the best book about corporate leadership that I've ever read."--John Whitehead, former Co-Chairman, Goldman Sachs & Co., former Deputy Secretary of State"Clear, crisp, and actionable insights on leadership, which can only come from a well experienced scholar and practitioner like Charley Ellis."--Abdullatif A. Al-Othman, Governor, Saudi Arabian-General Investment Authority""What It Takes" is Ellis's finest work on organizational excellence. His intimate knowledge of these organizations imparts powerful insights and lessons for those aspiring to build and sustain great and enduring organizations."--Ng Kok Song, Chief Investment Officer, Government of Singapore Investment Corporation""What It Takes" is a clear-eyed view into the complexities of building and sustaining great organizations. Charley Ellis's artful storytelling imparts insights that would benefit anyone aspiring to thoughtful, effective leadership throughout markets and histories."--Lei Zhang, founder and CEO, Hillhouse Capital Management"Charley Ellis has taken an incisive look under the hood of some of the world's greatest professional organizations and has put his perceptive finger on not only what has made them succeed but has also led them to endure."--D. Ronald Daniel, former Managing Partner, McKinsey & Company"Once again, Charley Ellis has delved into the mysteries of leadership with clarity and insight."--Jim Rothenberg, Chairman, Capital Research and Management Company "Charley Ellis looks hard at how great firms succeed in fields as different as law, consulting, and medicine . . . and finds what it takes that they have in common."--Jeff Bewkes, CEO, Time Warner"Charley Ellis takes us through a series of master classes on corporate leadership. This is an outstanding contribution to help us understand that which divides winners from losers."--Lord Paul Myners, former Treasury Minister, UK"A very interesting study of the similarities and differences in the leadership of five very different professional firms. Should be required reading for other firms in those professions."--Samuel C. Butler, former Presiding Partner, Cravath, Swaine & Moore"I cannot imagine anyone better qualified than Charley Ellis to analyze, identify, and describe those characteristics that separate outstandingly successful professional firms from the merely very good ones. This fascinating book should be recommended reading for anyone wishing to become a leader in the professions described and for anyone with an ambition to succeed in business."--Peter Stormonth Darling, former Chairman, Mercury Asset Management"Of course everyone knows of the five great institutions which are the subject of Charley Ellis's latest book. But what is it that made them outstanding? Charley, in this searching and unsentimental if admiring analysis, provides answers: A good idea transformed into a novel business model, passion, commitment, good judgment, particularly in the early years, and great people. Another Charley Ellis book to treasure."--Sir Winfried Bischoff, Chairman, Lloyds Banking Group

Flap copy

W"hat It Takes" is the story of what sets the great professional firms, the acknowledged leaders in their industries, apart from all the rest. It is a blueprint for how to create, build, and maintain such a firm.Having devoted a career that spans fifty years to consulting with and studying professional firms in the Americas, Asia, and Europe, and developing Greenwich Associates from start-up to global leader, author Charles Ellis learned firsthand how difficult it is for an organization to go beyond very good and attain, as well as sustain, excellence. Now, he shares his hard-won insights with you and reveals "what it takes" to be best-in-class in "any" industry.Enlightening and entertaining, "What It Takes" explores firms that are leaders in their particular field--from McKinsey & Company in consulting, Cravath, Swaine & Moore in law, Capital Group in investment management, the Mayo Clinic in healthcare, and Goldman Sachs in investment banking--and the superior people who create and maintain them, in order to identify the secrets of their long-term success.While you might expect to find major differences, from industry to industry, in how the great firms set themselves apart, the principles they follow are few and nearly identical. "What It Takes" breaks them down and reveals exactly how they can put your organization in a better position to excel when properly executed. The stories of the people, their decisions, and their interactions found throughout these pages bring these seven keys to success to life: Defining an inspiring missionRecruiting the right people onto the teamDeveloping people--from early accelerated training through career-long coachingEstablishing a strong culture that unites all in teamwork to serve clientsAssuring a strong client focusInnovation at all levels--from tactics to grand strategyProviding leadership that brings all six together and identifies problems and corrects them quicklyAnd while "What It Takes" contains many stories of achieving excellence, this book also addresses the obstacles that top-ranking organizations face in sustaining excellence. It examines how several of these firms have handled--and mishandled--recent mishaps and are struggling to right themselves. It also includes an instructive tale featuring Arthur Andersen & Co., a leader that stumbled and never made it back."What It Takes" skillfully shows you how innovation and a commitment to excellence can drive success, while also revealing how easy it is to fall behind. With it, you'll discover what separates the great firms from the good ones and learn how to attain, and maintain, organizational success throughout the years.

Table of contents

Foreword ix Introduction xi I. Achieving Excellence Chapter 1: Mission 3 An Inspiring Long-Term Purpose Chapter 2: Culture 25 How We Do Things around Here Chapter 3: Recruiting 47 Getting the Right People Chapter 4: Developing People 65 Training, Educating, and Organizing for Excellence Chapter 5: Client Relationships 97 Developing Ties That Last Chapter 6: Innovation 111 Changing How the Game Is Played Chapter 7: Macro Innovation 133 Changing the Game Chapter 8: Leadership 151 Bringing the Secrets Together Chapter 9: ... and Luck 173 Sometimes It Really Matters II. Sustaining Excellence Chapter 10: Trouble 181 Excellence Challenged Chapter 11: Arthur Andersen 211 Excellence Lost Afterword 245 Thanks 249 Notes 251 About the Author 285 Index 287