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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 material covers many point of many companies and brings out what enabled the best to become the best. After finishing the CDs I wondered why I was not told about this in college when going for my Business degree. Some of the material is dated, like when they tell you how awesome Circuit City is. However you can use the same material and understand why CC is no longer around.
If you are motivated to do great things inside your company this will give you ideas to determine the others around you who feel the same way, and how to identify the points in your company that will make you great and those that will delay growth.
Collins wrote Good to Great as a sequel to the book Build to Last, a book that focused on what great companies needed to keep doing to stay dominant. However, Build to Last was not useful to everybody, considering that not everybody is part of a great company. This aroused a question in Collins head, how do companies become great? Based on this question, Collins and his students took on a quest to find answers through extensive research.
Ultimately, the team came up with five answers that combined together are believed to transition a good company into a great company: level five leadership, first who then what, confront the brutal facts, hedgehog concept and culture of technology. Significantly, the importance of level five leadership is stretched throughout the entire book, which makes this topic, in my opinion, the most critical factor for companies who made the transition from Good to Great.
A level five leader, described by Collins is a highly educated, motivated and humble individual who is willing to make any sacrifice necessary to prosper a company. When describing the differences between a level five and a level four leader, I like to think of them as generals of war. A level five leader can be thought of as a savior. He will lead successfully lead you to war, and when it all seems to be falling apart, a level five leader will come back against all odds and win the war. A level four leader however, is great general, he will lead you to war and he will win many battles, but he will also lead you to defeat. He will not be able come back and save his troops.