Achieving sustained competitive advantage is not easy. You cannot dismiss any element. A sweet spot, agility, discipline, and focus are essential. Although managers might be able to identify future opportunities, few have the agility to move into them, the discipline to protect them, and the focus to take full advantage of them.
The firms that hit the mark showed an uncanny ability to do all this. One by one, they built an ensemble of positive traits. When the traits came together, they had a powerful force. Similarly, the losing firms took individual steps that fused together patterns of rigidity, ineptness, and diffuseness that were a deadly combination.
The next chapter describes how the big winners and losers that were analyzed were selected. The four factors that led to their success are discussed in Chapters 3 through 7. Then I turn my attention to the losers. The traits that led to their undoing are described in Chapters 8 through 12. The conclusions in Chapter 13 are based on a comparison of the successful and unsuccessful firms. This chapter is a coda of best practices for hitting the mark. You can use it to assess your own firm (or perhaps use it to choose a portfolio of firms in which you want to invest). The final chapter touches on turnarounds—sweet and sour companies that changed course. It explains what you have to do to start a take-off and avoid a nosedive.