Great by Choice, Essays

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Pages: 3

Great by Choice, Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen, HarperCollins Publishers, 2011
Organizing question: Why do some companies thrive in uncertainty, even chaos, and others do not?
Nine year study of companies that “started from a position of vulnerability, rose to become great companies with spectacular performance” (beat the industry standard by at least 10X),
“and did so in unstable environments characterized by big forces, out of their control, fast moving, uncertain, and potentially harmful.” …compared to companies that failed to become great in the same environment.
Myth Busters
Successful leaders in a turbulent world are bold, risk‐seeking visionaries. The best leaders did not have a visionary ability to predict the future.
They observed what worked, figured out why it worked, and built upon proven foundations. They were not more risk taking, more bold, more visionary, and more creative than the comparisons. They were more disciplined, more empirical, and more paranoid.
Innovation distinguishes 19X companies in a fast‐moving, uncertain, and chaotic world
10X companies do innovate, a lot. But the evidence does not support the premise that 10K companies will necessarily be more innovative than their less successful comparisons; and in some surprise cases, the 10X cases were less innovative. Innovation by itself turns out not to be the trump card we expected; more important is the ability to scale innovation, to blend creativity with discipline.
A threat‐filled world favors the speedy; you’re either the quick or the dead. The idea of leading in a “fast world” always requires “fast decisions” and “fast action”—and that we should embrace an overall ethos of
“Fast! Fast! Fast!” is a good way to get killed. 10X leaders figure out when to go fast, and when not to.
Radical change on the outside required radical change on the inside. The 10X cases changed less in reaction to their changing world than the comparison cases. Just because your environment is rocked by dramatic change does not mean that you should inflict radical change upon yourself.
Great enterprises with 10X success have a lot more good luck. The 10X companies did not generally have more luck than the comparisons. Both sets had luck—lots of luck, both good and bad—in comparable amounts. The critical question is not whether you’ll have luck, but what you do with the luck that you get.
(Pages 9 and 10)
About Thriving:
Thriving in a chaotic world is not just a business challenge. It is about the principles that…