When we are asked about great businesses, usually giant companies comes to mind. Companies with over thousands of employees and names that are so common that their products are known by its own company name.
Think Big, Act Small
however, brings the other brighter side of companies that chose to stay under the radar, and amazingly profitable as well as run exceptionally well.
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.
The book is organized into four sections, the first being a short introduction and definition of ‘Think Big’.
Section 2 is the primary section of the book, narrating interviews the author team had with each company’s founder or key persons. The building blocks are the concepts from each company to be highlighted, either thinking big or acting small.
Every company has common features but yet has a unique trait making each and every building block very interesting to read.
Section 3 allows the readers to categorize the quad matrix of Think x Act x Big x Small. With the quad, one can easily categorize companies based on their thinking (or direction, I would say) and actions (or the company culture). This section is not only good for an organization or owner to know itself, it is also beneficial for employee to know what kind of organization they are working in.
The book finally ends with the author justifying the selection of the nine companies that are thoroughly covered in the book and the challenges they had to overcome in getting these valuable insights from companies that deliberately choose to go low profile.
Section 1 Think Big
Section 2 The Building Blocks
1 Down to Earth
2 Keep Your Hands Dirty: SAS Institute
3 Make Short-Term Goals and Long-Term Horizons: Sonic Drive-In
4 Let Go: Cabela’s
5 Have Everyone Think and Act Like the Owner: Koch Industries
6 Invent New Businesses: Dot Foods
7 Create Win-Win Solutions: Medline Industries
8 Play Your Own Game: PETCO Animal Supplies
9 Build Communities: Strayer Education
10 Grow Future Leaders: O’Reilly Automotive
Section 3 The Quad: A Self-Evaluation and Ranking
Section 4 The Research: Eating an Elephant
This book is highly recommended if you are interested to know how some big business are run. These are big companies but run as a startup as well as with fundamentals that are strong, making them in the business for the long run.
It also helps one to identify the characteristics of any company based on their ‘thinking’ and ‘action’ to know if they are those that can grow and scale in the future.