Summary of ‘Good to Great’ by Jim Collins
Over the course of 9 chapters, Collins addresses a number of management, personnel, and operational practices, behaviors, and attitudes that are both conducive and negating to the good-to-great transition. One overarching theme that links together virtually all of Collins’ arguments is the need to define a narrowly focused objective and field of competency and then focus all of the company’s resources toward that area of strength.
Jim Collins states in his book ‘Good to Great’ that “almost any organization can substantially improve its stature and performance, perhaps even become great, if it conscientiously applies the framework of ideas found and used by Good to Great companies.” The book touches on the following themes, which were found throughout companies that have gone from good to great:
Good is the Enemy of Great
This idea is similar to the “good is never enough” concept from ‘Built to Last’, which is another good book by Jim Collins and is worth a read as well. In this section of the book, Collins urges companies to focus equally on what to do, what not to do, and what to stop doing. He believes that most companies focus too much on what to do and ignore what not to do or what they should stop doing. What are you doing based on tradition or industry standards? What assumptions or processes have you rested on because they were “good enough?” Good should be viewed as horrible because neither “great”.
Level 5 Leadership
This term “Level 5 Leadership” is used to describe a certain type of leader who was seen among many of the companies, which made the leap from good to great. They were more than just “clock builders”, they had unique characteristics such as humility and professional will towards excellence. This type of a leader is known for taking credit for bad performance while giving credit to others when things go well.
First Who… Then What
Collins says, “People are not your most important asset. The right people are.” He uses the analogy of a bus driver to while describing how to create a winning team within your organization. He recommends that you first get the right people on the bus, and then you get the wrong people off the bus, then the right people in the right seats, and then figure out where you want to drive that bus. Hire people with characteristics you cannot easily instill. Focus on who you are paying, not how. He also recommends analyzing someone’s character, work ethic, intelligence, and dedication to their values before deeply analyzing credentials and practical skills.
Confront the Brutal Facts
Collins found that companies that made the leap from good to great, had a consistent belief in their ability to succeed in the end. He believes that if companies do their due diligence and gather all of the facts, the right path will often unfold in front of them. He recommends the following four ways to build a culture where the truth is always heard:
Lead with questions, not…