An Overview of Good to Great
by Jim Collins
In this article, Collins summarizes his findings on how companies went from good to great. You can find a more detailed explanation in his book – Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t.
The analogy that I appreciated most is his straightforward explanation of getting the right people on the bus. As leader, you are the driver of the bus and your first priority is getting “the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus and the right people in the right seats” (Disciplined People section). He emphasized that great leaders start the bus trip with who is going. The priority has to be about getting the right people together. Good people are self motivated and being part of strong team adds to the motivation.
Second, once you know who’s on the bus with you, then you can clarify where you are going and most importantly what you are doing. Your destination might change along the way and people who are only in it for the end game won’t stay. The right people Collins argued are self motivated. The wrong people he emphasized are just that wrong. You could go in the right direction but it won’t matter because “mediocre people still produce mediocre results” (Disciplined People section).
Are you the fox or the hedgehog? Based on a Greek parable, the fox knows lots of small things and the hedgehogs know one big thing. In business, that means simplifying the complex ideas into a single organizing idea. One that will guide, direct and unify all future decisions (Disciplined Thought Section). In order to find clarity, Collins suggests three key questions:
- What can you be the best in the world at (and not be the best in the world at)?
- What’s the economic factor that best drives the economics?
- What are our core people deeply passionate about?
(Disciplined Thought Section)
Put all of that together and provide enough momentum to get the flywheel going so it can sustain itself and you are on your way. You just have to focus on what you need to do and stop doing what’s not helping you (Disciplined Action Section).
In an article sidebar, Fast Company asked Collins – why are most great companies lead by relatively anonymous people? It turns out what Collins calls celebrity leaders tend to make decisions that favor their ego more often. Anonymous leaders are passionate about the cause and when faced with ego or the company and the work, they choose the latter. The biggest challenge Collins explained is to get and hang onto the right people.
- Good to Great – Jim Collins – October 2001