Book Giveaway #75: Good To Great

Book Giveaway #75: Good To Great (GTG)
Title: Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t
Author(s): Jim Collins

The first best seller by Jim Collins was his 1994 book “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies”. This was the outcome of a research spanning six years on “great companies”. The research included a survey of 1000 CEOs, before finally listing 18 “great” visionary companies. In this new book GTG, the author reveals that, in 1996, Bill Meehan, the MD of McKinsey said:

“You know Jim, we love Built to Last around here. You and your coauthor did a very fine job on the research and writing. Unfortunately, it is useless.”

Useless! Meehan clarified that the 18 companies in the book WERE ALREADY GREAT so the book does not help normal GOOD companies to become great.

This comment triggered the author to begin ANOTHER 5 years research project. The research scanned Fortune 500 companies from 1965 to 1995. Eventually the research drilled down to 11 companies – most of them faced at least once in their lifetime a “find a way to thrive or perish” situation and took “the less traveled” to great business – and, yes, great business ALSO means “great” profits.

One of the things that makes the research extraordinary is that the research also identifies, for each of those 11 companies, A SIMILAR COMPANY THAT DID NOT CHOOSE A “GREAT” PATH and eventually faded into oblivion.

The GTG companies that transitioned to great success, had 6 elements (across 3 stage) in common as described below.

STAGE #1: Disciplined People: Right leadership and Right team building

  1. Level 5 Leadership (what makes a great entrepreneur and a great leader)
  2. First who ..then what (Getting the right team)

STAGE #2: Disciplined Thought: Defining the Right “Game” and the Right “Strategy”

  1. Confront the brutal facts (Having “unwavering faith” in your vision, YET brutally confronting yourself with what you can be the very best at, and, what you should not do).
  2. The Hedgehog Concept (Finding the “sweet spot” in the Venn diagram of your “what you want to be world’s best at”, profits and passion; then “simplifying” that vision, and, executing it with single-minded focus.)

STAGE #3: Disciplined Action: Getting the Right “Culture” and “Tools”

  1. Culture of Discipline (The magical ALCHEMY of great performance – disciplined thought and action does not need bureaucracy and control – enabling it to fly on its own)
  2. Technology Accelerators (not necessarily depending on it, yet pioneering APPLICATION of “carefully selected technologies”)

An excerpt from the book:

“Every company would like to be best at something, but few actually understand – with piercing insight and egoless clarity – what they actually have the potential to be the best at and, just as important, what they cannot be best at. And, IT IS THIS IS DISTINCTION that stands one of primary contrasts between the good-to-great companies”.

Fascinatingly, the author got a taste of “greatness” in his own family – his wife. One day, she told him that she is quitting her job (and other stuff) to compete for Ironman. It is a championship involving 2.4 miles ocean swimming + 112 miles of cycling + 26.2 marathon.

There years later – she was the world champion.

Have the balls to play the “Greatness” ball? Why play marbles all life? Shall we get on the Game of Greatness?

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