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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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Practical - because the Great companies' analysis indicates duplicateable concepts and steps which are universal in any field by aspiring Level 5 leaders.
Encouraging - Some of the toughest decisions made by Level 5 leaders are being made by leaders aspiring to attain the Level 5 mentality. These aspiring leaders can take heart knowing they are progressive and following in foot steps of the elite on a path not many choose because it is not for the faint of heart but rather for the strongest with selflessness unmatched by the typical.
On-going - any leader can listen, take note and begin to achieve. Then review and continue achievements.
I'm lovin' it! I'm learning to be a hedgehog among other traits necessary to be a better leader on the path to level 5.
What distinguishes a good company from a great company? If you're in the private sector, chances are that your answer is profit, return-on-investment (ROI). In 1972, $10,000 invested in Southwest Airlines would be worth $10 million thirty years later; if you invested in Pan Am.... In the social sector, what makes an organization great is its performance relative to its mission.
"Good to Great and the Social Sectors" builds on Jim Collins' earlier work and is a standalone monograph for those whose business it is to serve. No doubt, some principles of management transcend sector but some do not. How do you harness the power of individual volunteers to achieve greatness when no one even has to show up? How do you motivate (and retain) a staff that is not working solely for the money? How do you create and maintain an organizational culture that stubbornly, resolutely, persists in the face of uncertainty, when you and the individuals you serve are not valued as much as when times were good?
In today's world, budgets for government agencies and funding streams for voluntary providers are in doubt. At the most prosperous moment in human history, we are experiencing class warfare like never before. The American taxpayer is "mad as Hell and not gonna take it anymore" ...as if "it" was cruel exploitation taken while the taxpayer was distracted --presumably watching an episode of The Simpsons. Sadly, many politicians are reacting in kind. For a social sector organization to navigate in hostile waters, it had better be thinking about its mission.
"Good to Great and the Social Sectors" is a guide for leaders of organizations that care about people, but it is also realistic about what it takes to become GREAT. After all, that's the point. It will help you focus, organize, and value those in your organization who have a desire to give meaning to one's life. It will help you assess the turf and build your brand; "anyone seeking to cut funding must contend with the brand".
Jim Collins says, "If we only have great companies, we will merely have a prosperous society, not a great one. Economic growth and power are the means, not the definition, of a great nation." Bravo!
This book examines eleven companies that were good companies, and then over time turned into great companies. Collins and his team spent five years researching the similarities between all these companies and why these similarities are factors of success. They concluded that there were a few major things that turned these companies from good companies into great companies. These factors, without going into too much detail, include a certain brand of leadership, application of technology, an optimistic yet realistic attitude and a talented group of people who are picked before anything is done. Collins covers all these factors in detail while providing real life examples of their success.
Overall I thought this book was a very good read. I was quite surprised by some of the findings, especially the type of leadership that usually results in great companies. To me, this book was inspiring because it shows that a little hard work, humility and a positive attitude are much better for enduring success than the cut throat, egotistical attitude that we are often led to believe is the recipe for success. I would recommend this book to anybody who wants to transform any type of organization into a great organization; it doesn't even need to be a business.