Jim Collins, Good to Great (2001)
American management expert on business success (pictured right).
Worked at Stanford Business School in California with Jerry Porras, pictured right
below, with whom he wrote the best-seller, Built To Last.
Jim Collins in the Management Gurus section.
Why are only a few companies great?
“Good is the enemy of great”, says Collins.
In other words, it is easy to settle for being good, so we don’t strive to be great.
How good companies become
1. Level 5 leaders
The best (level 5) leaders are egoless with
- a mixture of modest humility and a fearless, fanatical
will to achieve success for the organization (not themselves) - the best leaders are “more like
Lincoln and Socrates than Patton or Caesar”.
- a combination of the “window” (giving other people credit for successes) and
the “mirror” (taking the blame for mistakes and failure).
- excellence at the other four levels of leadership:
Highly capable individual (getting results through “talent, knowledge, skills and good
Contributing team member (effectively contributing to group performance).
Competent manager (effectively organizing people to achieve organizational objectives like
Effective leader (inspiring people to achieve a vision and higher performance).
2. First who...then what
“First get the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) before you figure out where to drive
In other words:
Get the right people in the right jobs (working on your best opportunities, not the
biggest problems) and then decide on strategy.
The great companies are “rigorous” with challenging performance standards but avoiding
ruthless redundancies, if possible.
3. Confront the brutal facts (yet never lose faith)
Facing reality whilst having faith in success (the
- asking questions (the first thing to do).
- stimulating constructive debate.
- analysing failures without blaming people.
- emphasizing important facts (“red flag mechanisms”).
4. The Hedgehog Concept
Simplifying the world into one principle or concept that makes you a world beater.
To do this you must do three things (three “intersecting circles”):
- to be best in the world in your business.
- drive your economic engine most effectively (i.e. maximize profit and cash).
- concentrate on what you’re passionate about.
5. A culture of discipline
Achieving innovation and customer satisfaction through disciplined:
6. Technology accelerators
Applying certain technologies whilst realizing that technology
can’t be the cause of greatness or decline
“Technology can accelerate a transformation, but technology cannot cause a transformation”,
7. The flywheel and the doom loop
Greatness doesn’t happen overnight but through a slow but constant pursuit of success like pushing a great giant
The opposite of this Flywheel Effect is the Doom Loop, when failure results
from change not happening.
8. From Good to Great to Built to Last
Making greatness permanent through:
- values that stimulate progress.
(as outlined in Collins and Jerry Porras’ book, Built to Last)
Key quote on human resource management
People are not your most important asset. The right people are.
Key quote on business success
That good is the enemy of great is not just a business problem. It is a human problem.
Key quote on leadership and management
One of the most damaging trends in recent history is...to select dazzling celebrity leaders and to de-select
potential Level 5 leaders.
Key quote on management
The best people don’t need to be managed. Guided, taught, led – yes. But not tightly managed.