Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't
by James C. Collins
Five years ago, Jim Collins asked the question, "Can a good company become a great company and if so, how?" In Good to Great Collins, the author of Built to Last, concludes that it is possible, but finds there are no silver bullets. Collins and his team of researchers began their quest by sorting through a list of 1,435 companies, looking for those that made substantial improvements in their performance over time. They finally settled on 11--including Fannie Mae, Gillette, Walgreens, and Wells Fargo--and discovered common traits that challenged many of the conventional notions of corporate success. Making the transition from good to great doesn't require a high-profile CEO, the latest technology, innovative change management, or even a fine-tuned business strategy. At the heart of those rare and truly great companies was a corporate culture that rigorously found and promoted disciplined people to think and act in a disciplined manner. Peppered with dozens of stories and examples from the great and not so great, the book offers a well-reasoned road map to excellence that any organization would do well to consider. Like Built to Last, Good to Great is one of those books that managers and CEOs will be reading and rereading for years to come. --Harry C. Edwards Amazon.com
Hardcover: 320 pages
HarperCollins; ISBN: 0066620996; (October 16, )
Built to Last, the defining management study of the nineties, showed how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the verybeginning.
But what about the company that is not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness?
For years, this question preyed on the mind of Jim Collins. Are there companies that defy gravity and convert long-term mediocrity or worse into long-term superiority? And if so, what are the universal distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great?
Using tough benchmarks, Collins and his research team identified a set of elite companies that made the leap to great results and sustained those results for at least fifteen years. How great? After the leap, the good-to-great companies generated cumulative stock returns that beat the general stock market by an average of seven times in fifteen years, better than twice the results delivered by a composite index of the world's greatest companies, including Coca-Cola, Intel, General Electric, and Merck.
The research team contrasted the good-to-great companies with a carefully selected set of comparison companies that failed to make the leap from good to great. What was different? Why did one set of companies become truly great performers while the other set remained only good?
Over five years, the team analyzed the histories of all twenty-eight companies in the study. After sifting through mountains of data and thousands of pages of interviews, Collins and his crew discovered the key determinants of greatness'why some companies make the leap and others don't.
The findings of the Good to Great study will surprise many readers and shed light on virtually every area of management strategy and practice. The findings include:
Level 5 Leaders: The research team was shocked to discover the type of leadership required to achieve greatness.
The Hedgehog Concept (Simplicity within the Three Circles): To go from good to great requires transcending the curse of competence.
A Culture of Discipline: When you combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get the magical alchemy of great results. Technology Accelerators: Good-to-great companies think differently about the role of technology.
The Flywheel and the Doom Loop: Those who launch radical change programs and wrenching restructurings will almost certainly fail to make the leap.
"Some of the key concepts discerned in the study," comments Jim Collins, "fly in the face of our modern business culture and will, quite frankly, upset some people."
Perhaps, but who can afford to ignore these findings?
Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies
by James C. Collins, Jerry I. Porras
This analysis of what makes great companies great has been hailed everywhere as an instant classic and one of the best business titles since In Search of Excellence. The authors, James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras, spent six years in research, and they freely admit that their own preconceptions about business success were devastated by their actual findings--along with the preconceptions of virtually everyone else.
Built to Last identifies 18 "visionary" companies and sets out to determine what's special about them. To get on the list, a company had to be world famous, have a stellar brand image, and be at least 50 years old. We're talking about companies that even a layperson knows to be, well, different: the Disneys, the Wal-Marts, the Mercks.
Whatever the key to the success of these companies, the key to the success of this book is that the authors don't waste time comparing them to business failures. Instead, they use a control group of "successful-but-second-rank" companies to highlight what's special about their 18 "visionary" picks. Thus Disney is compared to Columbia Pictures, Ford to GM, Hewlett Packard to Texas Instruments, and so on.
The core myth, according to the authors, is that visionary companies must start with a great product and be pushed into the future by charismatic leaders. There are examples of that pattern, they admit: Johnson & Johnson, for one. But there are also just too many counterexamples--in fact, the majority of the "visionary" companies, including giants like 3M, Sony, and TI, don't fit the model. They were characterized by total lack of an initial business plan or key idea and by remarkably self-effacing leaders. Collins and Porras are much more impressed with something else they shared: an almost cult-like devotion to a "core ideology" or identity, and active indoctrination of employees into "ideologically commitment" to the company.
The comparison with the business "B"-team does tend to raise a significant methodological problem: which companies are to be counted as "visionary" in the first place? There's an air of circularity here, as if you achieve "visionary" status by ... achieving visionary status. So many roads lead to Rome that the book is less practical than it might appear. But that's exactly the point of an eloquent chapter on 3M. This wildly successful company had no master plan, little structure, and no prima donnas. Instead it had an atmosphere in which bright people were both keen to see the company succeed and unafraid to "try a lot of stuff and keep what works." --Richard Farr - Amazon.com
Paperback from HarperBusiness
The Spirit to Serve Marriott's Way
by Adrian Zackheim, J. W., Jr. Marriott, Jim Collins, Kathi Ann Brown
Paperback from HarperCollins
BEYOND ENTREPRENEURSHIP: TURNING YOUR BUSN
by Collins & lazier
Paperback from Prentice Hall Press
The Startup Garden: How Growing a Business Grows You
by Tom Ehrenfeld
Foreword by Jim Collins
About the Author
Jim Collins is a student and teacher of enduring great companies -- how they grow, how they attain superior performance, and how good companies can become great companies.Having invested over a decade of research into the topic, Jim has co-authored three books, including the classic Built to Last, a fixture on the Business Week bestseller list for more than five years, generating over 70 printings and translations into 16 languages.His work has been featured in Fortune, The Economist, Business Week, USA Today, Industry Week, Inc., Harvard Business Review and Fast Company.
Driven by a relentless curiosity, Jim began his research and teaching career on the faculty at Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he received the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1992.In 1995, he founded a management laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, where he now conducts multi-year research projects and works with executives from the private, public, and social sectors.
Jim has served as a teacher to senior executives and CEOs at corporations that include: Starbucks Coffee, Merck, Patagonia, American General, W.L. Gore, and hundreds more.He has also worked with the non-corporate sector such as the Leadership Network of Churches, Johns Hopkins Medical School, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and The Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Non-Profit Management.
Jim invests a significant portion of his energy in large-scale research projects -- often five or more years in duration -- to develop fundamental insights and then translate those findings into books, articles and lectures.He uses his management laboratory to work directly with executives and to develop practical tools for applying the concepts that flow from his research.
In addition, Jim is an avid rock climber and has made free ascents of the West Face of El Capitan and the East Face of Washington Column in Yosemite Valley.
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