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The winning formula for growth: course, capability and conviction

Vivek Kapur (Partner in the Strategy and Change practice of IBM Business Consulting Services (BCS) and leads its Global Growth Initiative (
Jeffere Ferris (Consultant within the Strategy & Change practice at IBM BCS (
John Juliano (Strategy & operations consultant with IBM BCS ( )
Saul J. Berman (Partner at IBM BCS, and is also the strategy and change leader for IBM's Global Media & Entertainment industry ( More information on this IBM research is available at

Strategy & Leadership

ISSN: 1087-8572

Article publication date: 1 January 2006



This study of the growth history and practices of 1,238 companies over a decade by the IBM Institute for Business Value found that top growth companies excel in three vital areas: course, capability and conviction. IBM calls this the “3Cs model.”


The IBM research team developed a database of growth and shareholder return performance for companies included in the S&P Global 1200. Starting with the 2003 list, the team added the firms that “fell off” the listing over the preceding decade. The study worked with a final list of 1,238 companies with complete data over the decade. Collectively, this group recorded median annual revenue growth of 8.5 percent and median TSR growth of 8.8 percent.


The most successful growers: have a clear point of view on their industry, addressing both where it is headed and how they will create value in its new form or environment; are iconoclasts who evolve their product‐market portfolio on an ongoing basis; sustain the growth quest by developing multiple growth initiatives that are backed by ongoing cost and asset management to create funding; foster a culture that responds to the necessity of change, and a cadre of leaders with the passion and follow through to make the change stick

Research limitations/implications

The article provides a sound intellectual background for researchers who want to compile in‐depth case studies.

Practical implications

The article advises corporate leaders to: assess their company's status against your growth ambitions and the 3C model winners follow; develop a point of view on the future and its opportunities; evolve your product market portfolio and initiatives; develop a competitive model; get to know your capabilities and align them with opportunities.


Contrary to conventional wisdom, firms with the will to be successful growers can break free of perceived constraints related to size, industry boundaries and geographic neighborhood.



Kapur, V., Ferris, J., Juliano, J. and Berman, S.J. (2006), "The winning formula for growth: course, capability and conviction", Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 34 No. 1, pp. 11-23.



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