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Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don't Hardcover – Unabridged, October 16, 2001
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Five years ago, Jim Collins asked the question, "Can a good company become a great company and if so, how?" In Good to Great Collins, the author of Built to Last, concludes that it is possible, but finds there are no silver bullets. Collins and his team of researchers began their quest by sorting through a list of 1,435 companies, looking for those that made substantial improvements in their performance over time. They finally settled on 11--including Fannie Mae, Gillette, Walgreens, and Wells Fargo--and discovered common traits that challenged many of the conventional notions of corporate success. Making the transition from good to great doesn't require a high-profile CEO, the latest technology, innovative change management, or even a fine-tuned business strategy. At the heart of those rare and truly great companies was a corporate culture that rigorously found and promoted disciplined people to think and act in a disciplined manner. Peppered with dozens of stories and examples from the great and not so great, the book offers a well-reasoned road map to excellence that any organization would do well to consider. Like Built to Last, Good to Great is one of those books that managers and CEOs will be reading and rereading for years to come. --Harry C. Edwards
From Publishers Weekly
In what Collins terms a prequel to the bestseller Built to Last he wrote with Jerry Porras, this worthwhile effort explores the way good organizations can be turned into ones that produce great, sustained results. To find the keys to greatness, Collins's 21-person research team (at his management research firm) read and coded 6,000 articles, generated more than 2,000 pages of interview transcripts and created 384 megabytes of computer data in a five-year project. That Collins is able to distill the findings into a cogent, well-argued and instructive guide is a testament to his writing skills. After establishing a definition of a good-to-great transition that involves a 10-year fallow period followed by 15 years of increased profits, Collins's crew combed through every company that has made the Fortune 500 (approximately 1,400) and found 11 that met their criteria, including Walgreens, Kimberly Clark and Circuit City. At the heart of the findings about these companies' stellar successes is what Collins calls the Hedgehog Concept, a product or service that leads a company to outshine all worldwide competitors, that drives a company's economic engine and that a company is passionate about. While the companies that achieved greatness were all in different industries, each engaged in versions of Collins's strategies. While some of the overall findings are counterintuitive (e.g., the most effective leaders are humble and strong-willed rather than outgoing), many of Collins's perspectives on running a business are amazingly simple and commonsense. This is not to suggest, however, that executives at all levels wouldn't benefit from reading this book; after all, only 11 companies managed to figure out how to change their B grade to an A on their own.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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The missing piece from Good to Great is how to make the original work for organizations that don't have the bottom line as the driving factor. Nonprofits still need to have "the right people on the bus," "Level 5 Leadership," and need to have a "hedgehog," but Collins didn't tell us how these applied to the non-business sector.
This problem is addressed in this small add-on -- Good to Great and the Social Sectors, a small read that makes it clear on how nonprofits can still apply Good to Great values to their own organizations with mission -- not profit -- in mind. This work doesn't stand on its own, however; one must read the original book to understand the principles in-depth so they'll make sense when the reader comes upon them in Good to Great and the Social Sectors.
As one of the best business and leadership books of the past decade, From Good to Great is a must-read for any for-profit or nonprofit executive, but the latter would be more easily guided in how those principles will work for them in this very reasonably priced followup.
The author does an excellent job of putting the book into audio format. Rather than simply read the book verbatim, he adds bits of commentary and changes a few words where necessary because he recognizes that people don't hear the same way we read. Don't misunderstand--the vast majority of the audio is straight from the book, but the author comes across more as if he's SPEAKING to an audience, with the vocal inflections and emphasis that you'd expect from a good speaker, and even repeats key points to make sure you grasp just how important they are.
There are multiple audio versions of this title available, and the most recent version, from 2005 (four years after the publication of the original book), provides significant additional value to the listener. The author makes numerous comments throughout the audio, sometimes at great length, about lessons learned since the original book's publication. It was this additional content that I found to be of great value to me. Although the audio wasn't recorded today, the years between the book's publication and the audio recording allow Collins to reflect on the book's findings and reasons that some of the book's good-to-great companies may have faltered somewhat in the time since the study's conclusion. This was of significance because this very question might enter the reader's mind (as it did mine), and his explanations show that the lessons learned by the actions of the good-to-greats during their transition are still 100% valid, and that failures of the great companies come as a result of their failing to stay true to the practices that led them to greatness in the first place.
Overall, I found the additional content in the 2005 unabridged audio recording to be well worth the small additional expense. The author's skill in conveying his message through audio are consistent with the quality of the study upon which the book is based and with the author's ability to translate the study's findings into a well-organized, easily understood text. An excellent work by Jim Collins.
I have realized why sometimes we work so hard but never get great.
This is one of the best books about Leadership and Organizational transformation process