BOOK: Remix Strategy — The Three Laws of Business Combinations

HBR Press Release

What Is “Remix Strategy?”

In contemporary music and art, a “remix” is a piece of media that is created by combining bits and pieces from other media. A collage is a remix of pictures. New songs can come from remixing the sound tracks from other songs. Even text created by cutting and pasting is a remix. In Remix Strategy: The Three Laws of Business Combinations,”  Ben Gomes-Casseres applies the concept to the remix of business assets.

The book argues that the combining of resources, assets, and capabilities of one organization with those of another is a powerful strategy for creating value. The book’s framework explains how value is created and captured when companies combine resources, and why this mixing of assets and capabilities is fundamental to competitive advantage. Twenty practical tools let you apply these ideas right away.

This is Ben’s third book on alliances, strategy, and industry competition. It presents insights that he accumulated over decades of consulting and academic research. The book is available at bookstores, from Harvard Business Review Press, or from

Business combinations of various sorts are the mechanisms to remix a business. That is why alliances, partnerships, acquisitions, mergers, and joint ventures are no longer exceptions in most businesses–they are part of the core strategy.

As companies look to external partners for acquiring even strategic resources and capabilities, they need a practical road map for ensuring these relationships generate value. What combinations of resources do we need? How do we manage them over time? What profits will we earn? Will they justify our investments?

The Three Laws of Business Combinations

The key to success is to follow the three laws that are explained in detailed in Remix Strategy. In short, they are:

First Law: The value created by the combination should exceed the total that would be generated by the players acting alone. How much more value can we create together in the market? What lies behind this “joint value”?

Second Law: The combination must be designed and managed to realize the joint value. What partners and structures fit this goal best? How do we manage those elements that are the sources of the joint value?

Third Law: Each participant must earn sufficient profits to reward its investment. How do we divide the joint value? How might these shares change over time?

Managers already have a great deal of information and best practices for implementing alliances and acquisitions. The strength of these playbooks is their concrete detail about the legal, managerial, and financial ins and outs of every deal type and the tips on how to manage people and cultures in these combinations on a day-to-day basis. But managers often lack a set of guiding principles for actually making the deal create value for the company.

That’s what Remix Strategy is designed to offer. It gives you a simple but powerful framework to see clearly what the key decisions are and then to navigate those decisions successfully. Other books explain how to structure deals or how to navigate complexities of organization and culture. This book provides core principles and a practical framework for creating and capturing value, no matter the path chosen.

Reviewer Comments on Remix Strategy

The first book to explain the critical concepts behind successful business combination – and provide immediately actionable insights.  Remix Strategy is a must read for managers in business strategy, corporate development, and corporate alliances. — Russ Buchanan, Vice President, Worldwide Alliances, Xerox Corporation, Chairman Emeritus, Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals

Remix Strategy provides a clear framework focused on value creation that will support managers working with business combinations at all stages — from inception through deal negotiation and implementation to termination. The tools in the book address day to day challenges of identifying, delivering, and sharing value in combinations. An entertaining read that will benefit everyone working with business partnerships. — Nigel Sheail, Head of Business Development and Licensing, Bayer Healthcare AG

The ideas in Remix Strategy are creative, unique, and perhaps transformative. Today’s dynamic, shape-shifting business environment requires companies to acquire, divest, merge, ally, and partner, whether to innovate or just survive. This useful book reveals the fundamental laws of collaboration that lead to success. ––  Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Professor, Harvard Business School; author, MOVE, Supercorp, and Confidence

Whether you are an investor evaluating the value of a business combination, a director reviewing the firm’s alliance strategy, or an executive considering a partnership, Remix Strategy gives you the tools to understand and unlock value. Gomes-Casseres (re)mixes case studies with practical tools that you can use right “out of the box.” It’s modern business thinking for modern business times.  —  Mike Bellissimo, Enterprise Vice President, Humana Inc.

A fascinating roadmap to creating and capturing value through business combinations. Gomes-Casseres provides the tools you need to identify, govern, and share joint value, and illustrates through numerous case studies how to make critical choices in designing and executing business combinations. — Martin Fleming, IBM Chief Economist, Vice President, Business Performance Services, IBM Corporation

An excellent perspective on the role of alliances in strategy execution and ecosystem development. Gomes-Casseres’ three fundamental rules result in a pragmatic set of management tools, structures, and guidelines that equip leaders for a future in which collaboration between businesses is essential for survival. — Cees Bijl, Head of Emerging Business Areas, Head of Group Strategy and Alliances, Philips International BV

A powerful paradigm for prospering in a rapidly changing environment, rooted in three critical tools to evaluate and develop strategic business options. Gomes-Casseres shows how these tools can be applied in different scenarios with practical real-world examples. — Steve Steinhilber, Vice President of Industry Solutions Partner Ecosystems, Cisco Systems, Inc.; Author, Strategic Alliances

A terrific book with lots of insights and management tools, valuable to business leaders everywhere. Having been involved in several joint ventures, so much in Remix Strategy resonates with me, particularly the lessons on where joint benefits come from, on governing alliance strategy, and on dealing with uncertainty and change. — Ashok Krishna, Vice President of Downstream and Chemicals Technology, Chevron Corporation