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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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Top Customer Reviews
This is still, form my point of view, a great book to read as there are many things that are very useful. Jim references the UCLA bruins winning a NCAA championship and remarking that even though their coach John Wooden was a legend he had coached the team for 15 years before their first championship. Greatness takes time to mold and create and doesn’t happen over night. What I took as some of the best advice, “…every good-to-great transformation followed the same basic pattern – accumulating momentum, turn by turn of the flywheel – until buildup transformed into breakthrough.” The book is filled with many motivational and good forms of advice to follow which can in fact help drive a good company to greatness.
I did find it interesting that some of the 11 companies studies are now struggling or non - existent....Circle of Life.
Collins clearly describes the six stages that companies must have if they want to go big. The ideas that are given in this book will stimulate your leadership sense and perhaps it will enable you to bring your company ahead of the competitors.
There is however one flaw with the book. Collins praises Fannie Mae as one of the great companies because they "grasped the subtle denominator of profit per mortgage *risk level*," and "then it makes money selling insurance and managing the spread on that risk." Sure that sounds like a good way to make money, but it proved to be a grossly irresponsible practice that contributed largely to the global financial crisis.
Still, I would recommend this book for a beginner/intermediate as it will help you recognize problems and point you in the right direction. Three stars for Good to Great.
Less Jargony: Yes
Specific and Detailed: Yes
Easy to Read: Yes
Will you learn something new: Yes
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