3 Sep 2012

Book review: <i>Build, Borrow or Buy: Solving the Growth Dilemma</i>

<i>Build, Borrow or Buy: Solving the Growth Dilemma</i> by Laurence Capron and Will Mitchell, argues for careful, piecemeal growth

This is a timely book, not least because the stagnant parts of the global economy will only get the kick-start they need if enough private sector companies achieve decent rates of growth. The million-dollar question is how to achieve this.

The book’s title suggests it may be a simple matter of selecting the right strategy – growing organically, borrowing money to fund expansion or buying rivals to grow by acquisition. But while this is essentially a book about leadership and strategy, the nuance is subtler than the title suggests. Based on extensive research into businesses that have achieved sustainable growth, the authors outline the need for a careful approach. Businesses should consider the resources needed for all three avenues for growth, picking the right approach at the right time and making the right resources available.

They suggest three routes: building on internal resources (funding innovations, running product development teams); working with external providers and other companies to borrow skills or resources (licence agreements, consultancy arrangements); or buying the resources (mainly by acquiring other companies). Excellent case studies back up the authors’ contention that sustainable growth comes when leaders make active choices across the full portfolio of growth options. And they should use resource-planning tools that analyse the resources needed and ways to acquire them.

Because early success is often achieved through a particular approach to growth, this can become the predominant approach and restrict management thinking. This book is as much about change management as it is about managing and leading innovation. Adopting the resource-planning framework suggested is one way to guarantee successful and sustainable growth. A highly recommended read for all would-be strategists.



Richard Cree