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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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Collins spends the 40 pages of this monograph (yes, it's only 40 pages) on how you calibrate success without standard business measures, getting things done within a diffuse power structure, getting the right people on the bus, rethinking the economics of the organization without a profit motive, and how to build the brand.
Note that this little booklet is available for free on the web if you do a little digging.
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.
1) Very outdated. Some of the companies that are praised in this book are already bankrupt or just around the corner from bankruptcy/ government bailout . This book was published in 2001, no word of Apple,Google,Amazon,Facebook etc. so take it for what it’s worth.
2) Main problem of this book, its going backwards from results to reasons. It’s take a “successful” company and try to explain its success came from some master plan that was well crafted. Nonsense, other companies did the exact same to a different amount of business success.
3) Nothing in this book relates to the global economy, millennial generation and the mobile retail revolution. This book was published in 2001, this is also its relevance expiration date.
1) I liked the chapter about level 5 management, nothing new here but refreshing ideas about humility and open minded leaders.
2) I liked the hedgehog chapter about focusing your business on what you love and what you good at to maximize profits.
3) Positive lessons about running a healthy company that work as a team.
Fun read, but nothing new here. You can’t apply any lessons from this book to today economics. If you have a few hours to kill, go for it.
I first learned about Jim Collins at the annual Global Leadership Conference organized by the Willow Creek Association. Though he was promoting a different book, I heard only incredible things about his work Good to Great and at the conference I was fascinated with his understanding of how people and businesses thrive.
When I first picked up this book, I was expecting Collins to survey some of the best companies in the nation and tell me a few things these companies have in common. What I did not expect was a thoroughly academically researched investigation into the differences between a good company and a great company.
Collins (and his team) systematically walks us through six stages every great works through to move from good to great: Level 5 Leadership, First Who...Then What, Confront the Brutal Facts, The Hedgehog Concept, A Culture of Discipline, and Technology Accelerators. Each stage is so amazingly simple that you feel almost foolish for not knowing it yet each stage is also so profound you wonder how you could ever accomplish it.
I really think anyone trying to start a business, save a business, build a charity, or just organize something can benefit from this book. It takes all the complicated issues one can have managing an organization into simple practical words. This is a great book, I look forward to reading Jim Collins other works.
"What works makes you feel compelled to try to create greatness?"