Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Good to Great

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don'tGood to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't by Jim Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s not very often that a book comes along and says something original. Generally, especially books about best practice in business just reinvent the wheel – tell us the same thing we have heard before but in more current jargon. Collins’ “Good to Great” is the price of purchase though. He presents the challenge of companies that are defined as good, bad, mediocre, and everything in-between and the quest to become great. Collins does not provide a quick-fix answer – perhaps why I trust his and his research team’s findings.

“Good to Great” has introduces pivotal ideas – ones that we probably should have come up with on our own, but ones that needed to be shared just the same. For example, in a company, we need to get the right people on the bus (bus being the company), get the wrong people off, and then the right people in the right seats. The idea is simple – we need good people working for us, and anyone who distracts from the company mission/purpose, should not be there. However, it also shows how critical it is to get people doing the right things. We can have an exceptionally skilled individual wasting their effectiveness in the wrong position.

All that said, those of you who are not business people, Collins’ principles apply to you too. In our lives, we have things that we need to do to be successful and things that hinder our progress. In fact, we also have good things that we do that do not actually get us where we want to be. Our busses may not entail getting other people on board, but they do entail getting our activities/efforts/desires/etc. to all push us towards the greatness that is possible.

Collins spends a large portion of his book suggesting that we need to embrace the often obvious, but difficult facts of business and/or life. We need to streamline what we do and put all our efforts into those things that will help us or our companies achieve our ultimate goals. He says, “There is nothing wrong with pursuing a vision for greatness…but…the good-to-great companies continually refined the path to greatness with the brutal facts of reality.” I love that. Great counsel to continue aspiring, but to aspire within the framework of what can actually be.

Would I recommend this to everyone? No, it’s definitely not a page-turner in the same way that “The Hunger Games” is. However, it is an excellent book. You just have to be interested in the topic in the first place.
[ps. Definitely a personal goal to stop settling for being good and to aspire for greatness...]

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