The New Killer Apps reverses the conventional wisdom that start-ups are destined to out-innovate big, established businesses. Through crisp analysis and compelling case studies, Chunka Mui and Paul Carroll show that this just isn’t true. Or, at least, it need not be. Yes, small and agile beats big and slow, but big and agile beats anyone. This book offers a roadmap for how large companies can Think Big, Start Small and Learn Fast. In doing so, they can get out of their own way, take advantage of their natural assets, and vanquish both traditional competitors and upstarts by nurturing and unleashing their own killer apps.

There’s certainly a lot on the line. A perfect storm of technological innovation–combining smartphones and other mobile devices, ubiquitous cameras and sensors, social media and “big data” analytical tools–means that more than $36 trillion of stock-market value is up for what Mary Meeker at Kleiner Perkins is calling “reimagination.” Large companies will either do the reimagining and lay claim to the markets of the future or will be reimagined out of existence.

The research and findings of Paul Carroll and Chunka Mui’s book, Billion-Dollar Lessons: What You Can Learn from the Most Inexcusable Business Failures of the Last 25 Years, provides a differentiating perspective for our work.

That research looks at the data that others have ignored. Most business research studies successful companies and tries to generalize from their traits, tactics or strategies. But a serious question always lingers: What about companies that tried to do the same thing as the winners and failed?

To glean the lessons from those that have failed, we examined a broad cross section of the most significant business failures between 1981 and 2006.

The members of the Devil’s Advocate Group have a rich body of work. Here is a sampling of written material that provides context about our context.

Seven Ways to Fail Big at Harvard Business ReviewSeven Ways to Fail Big, by Paul B. Carroll and Chunka Mui, a companion article to Billion-Dollar Lessons, appeared in the September 2008 issue of Harvard Business Review.

Here is the idea, in brief:

Numerous studies have shown that roughly two out of three corporate acquisitions fail, as measured by the performance of the stock of the acquiring company. What if those odds could be flipped? What if it were possible to succeed two times out of three and just fail a third of the time?

In “Perfecting the Art of the Deal,” a working paper that applies our research to potential mergers and acquisitions, we suggest that this is possible. Our research found that almost half of the strategic failures that we studied stemmed from ill-conceived strategies that should never have been pursued. Applying the lessons derived from that research can help executives dodge problems and reshape strategies in ways that greatly increase the chances of success.

Read the introduction below and click to download the entire article in PDF form.

Warren Buffett says his guiding principle is to “be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.” There’s certainly plenty of fear out there, and thus plenty of opportunities to get greedy. Greed, however, does not necessarily translate into wealth.

In “Beyond Fear and Greed: Capitalizing on Opportunities in the Current Crisis,” we draw on our two years of research into more than 2,500 major corporate failures and our related consulting work to describe the landmines that companies are mostly like to hit as they try to capitalize on the turmoil that has roiled many markets since the summer of 2008. We also lay out a process for stress testing new business strategies, ensuring that greed does not send you down the wrong path and increasing the chances that you’ll pick a highly prosperous road.

Read the introduction below and click to download the entire article in PDF form.

Our publisher, Portfolio, has graciously made three chapters of Billion-Dollar Lessons available for free downloading. Just click on the highlighted chapter names below.

ipodWe love the printed word. But, in this age of iPods, there are times when an audiobook is called for–especially when read by a brilliant narrator. Thanks to the folks at Brilliance Audio, here’s a broad sampling of select stories and key concepts from Billion-Dollar Lessons, as read by Jim Bond: