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.
In 2001 he published his best-selling business book, Profit from the Core, (Harvard Business School Press), which found that nine out of 10 companies that had sustained profitable growth for a decade had focused on their core businesses, rather than following a siren's song toward diversification. The book offers an approach to assessing and making the most of core business opportunities. Mr. Zook's sequel, Beyond the Core, (Harvard Business School Press, 2004), examines how companies that have fully exploited their core businesses can systematically and successfully expand beyond into related, or "adjacent" areas. Unstoppable (Harvard Business School Press, 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. In 2010, Harvard Business School press published an updated version of the book, Profit From the Core: A Return to Growth in Turbulent Times.
All three books are based on a growth study begun in 1990 at Bain & Company that involves thousands of companies worldwide. The study's findings have been expanded each year; adopted and applied, in hundreds of successful companies in all types 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. He received a B.A. from Williams College, an M. Phil. in Economics from Exeter College, Oxford University, and holds Master's and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University.
He splits his time between homes in Boston, Massachusetts, and Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Several hot topics and trends he can discuss:
- CEO risks and pitfalls when exploring and pursuing adjacencies—the issues of complexity, false enthusiasm and hubris
- Adjacencies gone wild: examples of adjacency expansion gone wrong and what could have gone right
- Funding an adjacency strategy: where will the money/ manpower come from? Cleansing the core to free up resources
- Importance of the customer in determining adjacencies—how customers can point you to correct adjacencies
- Adjacency moves implicated in nearly 50% of CEO departures (non voluntary)
- The crisis of growth: Where will it come from?
- Dangerous moves—tension between focus on the core and pushing into the unknown