Going from Good to Great

February 26, 2007

Good to GreatI’ve just finished reading Jim Collins’ Good to Great.

It’s one of those reads that as you go through, you just keep nodding your head in agreement.  There’s nothing in there that is revolutionary, but there are indeed some surprises you’d never have thought of (I’m not gonna spoil them – buy the book!)

What’s good about this book is that it is based on (almost) hard evidence.  It’s not just one person’s opinion – it is the findings of some pretty darn intensive research.

There are a number of key concepts that Jim explains.  He explains them much better than me, but here’s my quick recap:

  • Level 5 leadership.   Show a bit of humility.  Level 5 leaders never seem to take the credit, but they always accept blame.  They are people first and foremost.  They give.  They care.
  • First who.   Get the right people on the bus, then put them in the right places.  You won’t need to manage half as much (if at all) if you’ve done this right.  We all know what happens when you get the wrong person onboard.
  • Confront the brutal facts.  Keep plugging away at your goals, but don’t be afraid to confront the brutal facts that may fundamentally affect your business.
  • The hedgehog concept.  This was my favourite.  Find out what you are deeply passionate about, find out what you can be the best in the world at, and work out what the econommic driver is that brings in the money.  Where these three circles meet – do it!
  • Culture of discipline. Stay focussed on what you are doing, and make it consistent with the Hedgehog concept.  Give people responsibility.  Employ staff that care, and don’t see it as “just a job”.
  • Technology accelerators.  In IT, we’ve all heard that “IT should be enabler.”   I guess Jim is saying a similar thing here.  It’s what you do with it that counts.
  • The flywheel.  Just take it one step at a time.  Don’t go making massive change every strategy session.  Just keep on going, keep on tweaking, building up that momentum.   It just sometimes takes time to get going.  But, boy, once you do..
  • Preserve the core and stimulate progress.  Stay true to your beliefs.  Unerringly.  Set yourself some BHAGS! (Big Hairy Audacious Goals).  Kill off, or change, the sacred cows.

The book provides real-life evidence of great companies as opposed to good.  OK, so these companies they research are massive, but the principles are largely the same.  I got a lot out of it.

Jim has a great website with a truckload of resources.

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