Review written by Silas Grant
This is the 5th book in five (5) weeks for me. Each week, it seems that the message housed within each book is right on time for me. This week’s book, “Good to Great” focuses on companies that had mediocre to good results for a number a years and then suddenly shot into greatness. Jim Collins, the author of the book, assembles a team of researchers to dig into how this happens.
The concept: The book identifies 11 companies that were in existence for quite some time floating along in terms of performance in their respective markets. In what seems like a sudden shift, these companies take off and outperform the market by at least 4 or 5 times. The contributing researchers then identified a direct competitor for each of the 11 that did not sustain exponential performance. Each competitor at some point had similar performances as the 11 “good to great” companies but fell off to some degree. Finally, the researchers also identified an additional six (6) companies that had some “good to great” success but it was not sustained. All in all, 28 companies were tracked. Many of them are household names. The goal was to find commonalities in the “good to great” companies that caused this phenomenon. Although this is a business book, Collins highly suggests that individuals looking to improve in their personal lives can use these methods to go from good to great.
Focus on the “who” – Collins states that each initiative, company, event, etc. is a “bus”. You have to get the right people on that bus. It is not enough to head in the right direction. The rightness of that direction may change. If people are on the bus because of the direction it’s going in, if you need to change direction, those people will find they are the on the wrong bus. A great friend is someone you don’t mind riding with no matter the direction. You want to hire and attract people who are on the bus for the right reasons. Even if people don’t have the expertise at a specific thing you’re doing in the moment, if they are the right people with the right morals and characteristics, they can become experts. Focusing on the “who” is one of the most important concepts revealed in the book. Having the right people on board is most important.
Discipline: Disciplined people, disciplined thoughts, and disciplined actions are important. The book dismisses the idea that you can motivate the wrong people to do the right things. Discipline is about the right people having the ability to stay on target with the mission. These people are motivated by seeing the company succeed wildly. You do not have to motivate these people because they are in love with the company.
Personal humility, professional will: The book describes the best leaders as “Level 5 Leaders”. These leaders are not soft, yet they are not overbearing personalities. They are modest, yet strongly focused on advancing the company versus advancing their personal brand. The uses the “window/mirror” concept – look to the window to give credit; look to the mirror to give blame. Whenever leaders veer off of this concept, the company suffers
Hire, act, opportunities: The findings show that great companies aren’t quick to hire for the sake of filling spots. They will leave positions vacant until they find the right hire, but act as soon as they know a change is needed. And finally, they focus on opportunities over problems. They hire the best, act as soon as needed, and put the best people on the assignment of taking advantage of the best opportunities.
The Hedgehog Concept: The book states that bravado is not the way to being great. You must understand what you’re great at or capable of being great at. Your core business may not be what ends up allowing you to be great. You may have to shift your business altogether. This is why having the right people with the right character on board is important. The Hedgehog Concept is based on going about your daily work with a focus solely on that; your work. Remain disciplined and focused on the work knowing that the work you’re doing is work that you can be the best at, passionate about, and it can bring an economic return. If you cannot be the best at something….. if it’s not feasible….drop it altogether. Focus only on what you can be the best at.
I could go on and on about the key takeaways, but for me the book was on time. Personally, I want to go from good to great. This book has reminded me to be aware of who I’m surrounded by. It has also caused me to think about only focusing on the paths that will lead me to being the best at the things I’m involved in. Lastly, I believe through reading this book that it is never too late to transition to being great.