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Chris Zook

Economic Outlook, Economy / Economics, Strategic Planning

Travels from Netherlands

Chris Zook's speaking fee starts in range:
$30,000 to $50,000

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Chris Zook Profile

Chris Zook is a partner in Bain & Company’s Boston office. He was co-head of the Global Strategy practice for 20 years. During his more than 25 years at Bain, Chris has specialized in helping companies find new sources of profitable growth.

A best-selling author, Chris published his fifth book, The Founder’s Mentality (Harvard Business Review Press) in 2016. Based on a decade-long study of companies in more than 40 countries, The Founder’s Mentality shows how leaders can overcome the predictable crises of growth and set their companies on a path of sustainable growth.

Chris has authored numerous additional books with Harvard Business Review Press, including Repeatability: Build Enduring Businesses for a World of Constant Change (2012), an argument for simple, great repeatable models to realize enduring, profitable growth. In 2010, he published Profit from the Core: A Return to Growth in Turbulent Times, an updated edition of his 2001 best-selling business book, Profit from the Core: Growth Strategy in an Era of Turbulence, which offers an approach to assessing and making the most of core business opportunities. Chris’s sequel, Beyond the Core: Expand your Market without Abandoning your Roots (2004) examines how companies that have fully exploited their core businesses can systematically and successfully expand into related, or “adjacent” areas. Unstoppable: Finding Hidden Assets to Renew the Core and Fuel Profitable Growth (2007) completes the series and examines what to do when your growth formula of the past begins to approach its limits, demanding that your company change its strategic focus and redefine its core.

These “growth trilogy” books have received widespread critical support. Beyond the Core was recognized by The Economist as one of the top five business and economic books in the year it was published, and it was also voted one of the top 100 business books ever written. Unstoppable was identified by The Financial Times as one of the notable business books of the year. Based on his work on how companies grow, Chris was included by the Times of London in its biannual list of the 50 Most Influential Global Business Thinkers. He has written dozens of articles with Harvard Business Review Press and other business publications, such as The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, The New York Times, Fortune, Forbes and BusinessWeek.

Chris has been a featured broadcast guest, including NPR, CNBC, Fox News and Bloomberg TV. He has been a keynote speaker at a wide range of international and business forums including the World Economic Forum, the World Knowledge Forum, the Forbes’ CEO Conference, the BusinessWeek CEO Conference, the Economist Summit and Endeavour’s entrepreneur summits. In the last five years, he has done over 500 talks and workshops across more than 35 different countries.

He received a bachelor of arts in mathematics and economics from Williams College, an M.Phil. in economics from Exeter College, Oxford University, and earned master’s and doctorate degrees from Harvard University.

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Chris Zook's Speech Descriptions

    Chris Zook, a partner at Bain & Company, leads the firm′s Global Strategy Practice. During his more than 20 years at Bain, Mr. Zook′s work has focused on companies searching for new sources of profitable growth, in a wide range of industries. Mr. Zook also writes extensively in the business press, is a frequent speaker at business forums, such as the World Economic Forum at Davos, and appears regularly on television and radio.

    Suggested topics:

    • Beyond the Core: Expand Your Market without Abandoning Your Roots
    • Unstoppable: Finding Hidden Assets to Renew the Core and Fuel Profitable Growth
    • Profit From the Core: A Return to Growth in Turbulent Times

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Books by Chris Zook:


The Founder’s Mentality: How to Overcome the Predictable Crises of Growth

Why is profitable growth so hard to achieve and sustain? Most executives manage their companies as if the solution to that problem lies in the external environment—find an attractive market, formulate the right strategy, win new customers. But when Bain & Company’s Chris Zook and James Allen, authors of the bestselling Profit from the Core, researched this question, they found that 90% of the challenges to growth are internal: increasing distance from the front lines, loss of accountability, and proliferating processes and bureaucracy, to name only a few. More crucial is their finding that companies experience a set of predictable internal crises, at predictable stages, as they grow. In addition, if not managed properly, these crises can stifle even the healthiest company’s ability to grow further—and actively lead it into decline.

The key insight from Zook and Allen’s research is that managing these choke points requires a “founder’s mentality”—an insurgent’s clear mission and purpose, an unambiguous owner mindset, and a relentless obsession with the front line (behaviors typically embodied by a bold, ambitious founder)—to restore the speed, focus, and connection to customers, all of which are lost as companies grow. Based on the authors’ decade-long study of companies in more than 40 countries, any leaders—not only founders—can use the Founder’s Mentality to overcome these predictable challenges and set their companies back on a path of sustainable growth. This book shows how to empower leaders everywhere to control the destiny of their companies.






Repeatability: Build Enduring Businesses for a World of Constant Change

Is radical reinvention the key to winning in today’s fast-paced world? Not judging by the results of some of the world’s best-performing companies.

In Repeatability, Chris Zook and James Allen—leaders of Bain & Company’s influential Strategy practice—warn that complexity is a silent killer of profitable growth. Successful companies endure by maintaining simplicity at their core. They don’t stray from, or regularly discard, their business model in pursuit of radical renovation. Instead, they build a “repeatable business model” that produces continuous improvement and allows them to rapidly adapt to change without succumbing to complexity.

Based on a multiyear study of more than two hundred companies, the book stresses the value of repeatability in business, showing how the “big idea” today is really made up of a series of successful smaller ideas driven by a simple and repeatable business model. Zook and Allen show how some of the world’s best-known firms combine a core differentiation model with speed, adaptability, and simplicity to land them at the top for long periods of time. These firms include: Apple, Danaher, DaVita, IKEA, Nike, Olam, Tetra Pak, Vanguard, and others.







Profit from the Core: A Return to Growth in Turbulent Times
When Profit from the Core was published in 2001, it became an international bestseller, helping hundreds of companies find their way back to profitable growth after the bursting of the Internet bubble. The 2007 global financial meltdown reaffirmed the perils of pursuing heady growth through untested strategies, as firms in industries from finance to retailing to automobiles strayed too far from their core businesses and suffered the consequences.

In this updated edition of Profit from the Core, authors Chris Zook and James Allen show that a renewed focus on the core is more critical than ever as firms seek to rebuild their competitive advantage coming out of the downturn—and that a strong core will be the foundation for successful expansion as the economy recovers.

Based on more than ten years of Bain & Company research and analysis and fresh examples from firms responding to the current downturn, the book outlines what today’s executives and managers need to do now to revitalize their core, identify the next wave of profitable growth, and build on it successfully.

Zook and Allen explain how companies can:

  • Develop a strong, well-defined core and use it to establish a leadership position
  • Follow the golden rule of strategy: discourage competitors from investing in your core
  • Assess whether your core is operating at its full potential
  • Uncover hidden assets in your core that provide the seeds for new growth
  • Find a repeatable formula to apply core business strengths in adjacent markets

Building on powerful and proven ideas to meet today’s formidable business challenges, Profit from the Core is the back-to-basics strategy field guide no manager should be without.

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Unstoppable: Finding Hidden Assets to Renew the Core and Fuel Profitable Growth
Over the next decade, two out of every three companies will face the challenge of their corporate lives: redefining their core business. Buffeted by global competition and facing an uncertain future, more and more executives will realize that they must make fundamental changes in their core even as they continue delivering the goods and services that keep them in business today.

Unstoppable shows these managers how to look deep within their organizations to find undervalued, unrecognized, or underutilized assets that can serve as new platforms for sustainable growth. Drawing on more than thirty interviews with CEOs from companies such as De Beers, American Express, and Samsung, it shows readers how to recognize when the core needs reinvention and how to deploy the “hidden assets” that can be the basis for tomorrow′s growth.

Building on the author′s previous books, Profit from the Core and Beyond the Core, this book shows how any company in crisis can transform itself to become truly unstoppable.

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Beyond the Core: Expand Your Market Without Abandoning Your Roots

All companies must grow to survive—but only one in five growth initiatives succeeds. In Profit from the Core, strategy expert Chris Zook revealed how to grow profitably by focusing on and achieving full potential in the core business. But what happens when your core business provides insufficient new growth, or even hits the wall?

In Beyond the Core, Zook outlines an expansion strategy based on putting together combinations of adjacency moves into areas away from, but related to, the core business, such as new product lines or new channels of distribution. These sequences of moves carry less risk than diversification, yet they can create enormous competitive advantage, because they stem directly from what the company already knows and does best.

Based on extensive research on the growth patterns of thousands of companies worldwide, including CEO interviews with twenty-five top performers in adjacency growth, Beyond the Core

  • Identifies the adjacency pattern that most dramatically increases the odds of success: “relentless repeatability;”
  • Offers a systematic approach for choosing among a range of possible adjacency moves;
  • Shows how to time adjacency moves during a variety of typical business situations

    Beyond the Core shows how to find and leverage the best avenues for growth – without damaging the heart of the firm.


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