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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.
Top customer reviews
“A Hedgehog Concept is not a goal to be the best, as strategy to be the best, an intention to be the best, a plan to be the best. It is an understanding of what you can be the best at.”
1. What you can be the best in the world at
2. What drives your economic engine
3. What you are deeply passionate about
And concept of technology accelerator:
“The good-to-great companies used technology as an accelerator of momentum, not a creator of it. None of the good-to-great companies began their transformations with pioneering technology, yet they all became pioneers in the application of technology once they grasped how it fit with their three circles and after they hit breakthrough.”
The most fascinating concept, however, is a concept, which is cornerstone of any greatness and is depicted as ‘the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus.’ If we can explain and understand ‘what’ before ‘why’, it puts the company and leaders on the right track to greatness:
“Stop and think about it for a minute. What do the right people want more than almost anything else? They want to be part of a winning team. They want to contribute to producing visible, tangible results.”
Continue reading at www.alwayskeepgrowing.com
It is fantastic for the rising manager developing his or her leadership and management style, and the book is a great read for the casual, business aficionado.
The book is very well written and full of great common sense approaches to leading a business. One of the keys is the "hedgehog" concept. Companies should focus on one central concept and be the best at it rather than diluting their time, talent, treasure, and passion amongst a variety of areas.
One of the other central points is that businesses are most successful when they focus on the intersection of three sets: things that their employees love to do, things that are valued by their customers, and things that their employees do very well.
It is genius!
Another critical point that the book makes is that good companies do not become great companies overnight. It takes time, like a flywheel building up momentum.
And, the list of great concepts in the book goes on and on.
I cannot recommend this book enough. If you are a manager or just interested in strategic leadership, you need to read this book now.
Jim spoke again this year at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit, framing most of the presentation around the 1911 South Pole explorations by Roald Amundson and his rival, Robert Scott. Responsibility, leadership performance, and luck were the major themes. Collin's presentation got me thinking about the book again, and I decided to go back and re-read it. There's a ton of things I missed or forgot over the years, so I am thrilled to have the new learning.
Good to Great is the second in the series by the author, though it's really the starting point to the project (think Star Wars series?). Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies logically follows this one, and then concludes with How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In. Last year he released Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck--Why Some Thrive Despite Them All, which I have heard is excellent, also.
Early in the book we get a taste of what's coming: "Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice." The companies who made the leap made the choice to be great, and, through rigorous research, interviewing, and vetting, Jim and his team figured out how they did it and anyone else can. This saves us a lifetime of work trying to figure it out - just read the book and apply the learning. The book is very much a roadmap to success, if you have the courage to follow the path. Given that only 11 of 1,435 companies made the final cut, it's easy to see that this is not the path of least resistance, nor is it one for people who choose to argue with the findings. The data speaks for itself: either you choose to use this as a leadership development tool or you choose not to. Either way, you choose.
If you have the desire to be excellent and the will to do the work, along with a healthy dose of humility, this is the book series for you. Take a year to read all four, earnestly apply them in your life, and by this time next year you will be a vastly different person - for the better. Remember, Good to Great is not about doing more and burning yourself out, it's about doing what works and stop doing what doesn't. As the author states on page 208 "If it's no harder, the results better, and the process so much more fun - well, why wouldn't you go for greatness?" Well said, Jim.