First published over a decade ago in 2001, in this classic business success book, Jim Collins and his team of researchers studied over 1,400 companies to identify just 11 that fit his criteria of demonstrating moving their companies from a position of ‘good’ to achieving cumulative returns at least 3 times what the general market was achieving.
The findings as reported in Good To Great are certainly not rocket science or a surprise (are they ever when it all gets boiled down to what makes success?).
Basically it comes down to discipline. You need disciplined people, who think mindfully with disciplined thought and who take intentional and disciplined action.
What I particularly enjoyed about this book is the way Collins provides the practical guidelines and distinctions on each of the three key areas (people, thought, action).
Collins introduces some key terms including:
Window and Mirror – leaders need to look externally (window) while also at an internal and personal level (mirror) to discover what needs to be intentionally focused on and achieved.
First Who… Then What – get the right people first, then focus on what needs to be done.
Stockdale Paradox – the need to confront difficult realities (take stock of your truth) while having an unwavering belief that you will succeed.
Hedgehog Concept – 3 intersecting circles that identify (1) what you can be best in (2) what drives finance and (3) your passion
BHAG – introduced in his earlier book ‘Build To Last’ this stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal.
There are many other key concepts introduced in the book, some, like BHAG have become almost common language in board rooms and management retreats.
A decade on, while arguably little has really changed in what will make a good organisation a great organisation, Collins’ book is still well worth reading and I recommend it for any leader at whatever level of any organisation to add to their list for intentional learning.