11th March 2003 - Good to Great

While I was away snowboarding in the Austrian Alps, I read "Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't" by Jim Collins. This bestselling book covers a detailed study of 11 companies that went from a period of 15 good years to a period of 15 great years; the most interesting aspect of this book is that in contrast to other management literature it is an observational study where some of the findings are actually quite the contrary of the author’s expectations.

The key findings of the book, assuming that the findings are applicable to an organization, reveals a process as follow to go from good to great:

1. The CEO must be a level 5 leader; a person with a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.

2. Get the right people into the organization before deciding where to go.

3. Confront the brutal facts rather than wishful thinking of what the world should be.

4. Apply the hedgehog concept; which is a sweet spot in which the organization can be passionate about doing business, be the best in the world and find the economic engine to drive.

5. Develop a culture of discipline in which everyone continuously strive for excellence around the hedgehog concept.

6. Apply technology where appropriate to support the organization.

The book speaks a clear language from the findings of the research, and indeed there are multiple areas where most organizations can apply the learning in my opinion. In this respect I would highly recommend this book for any leader at executive level.

My only doubt is the fact that all research was carried out on companies at least 30 years of age; and in this respect how this is directly transferable to younger organizations. That being said, I found myself in a young organization and was very inspired...

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Updated 2003-03-11

 
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