September 1, 2011

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Article

Good to Great

Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t

by Jim Collins reviewed by Jason Webster

September 1, 2011

There are plenty of good companies out there. But what does it require to take a good company and make it great? That’s the answer Jim Collins and his team set out to discover in an extensive research study.

Collins and his research team started with 1,435 good companies, examined their performance over 40 years and found 11 companies that became great. Using fascinating case studies, the author takes exact data and precise business examples and summarizes the information into general business do’s and don’ts.

One of the core concepts in the book is the idea of “getting the right people on the bus” first. Collins likens leaders to bus drivers and their companies to buses. He found that all the great companies started by asking not “where” they were going, but “who” was going to get them there. In essence, fill up the bus first and then decide and announce where you’ll be going.

The second most interesting idea is what Collins refers to as finding your “hedgehog concept.” The hedgehog concept is essentially an intersection of three core principles: What are you deeply passionate about? What can you be the best in the world at? What drives your economic engine?

He emphasizes the importance of not only answering these questions, but also reflecting on their opposites—what can’t you be the best in the world at, and what should you stop doing, for example. He advises every business make a “stop doing” list.

Lastly, the research proved that great companies have great leaders, but those leaders may not be the typical extroverted and dynamic leaders that come to mind. Many of the leaders in the great companies were introverted and methodical. Ultimately, the book won’t tell you specifically how to go from good to great—it simply compares data on how some companies succeeded and other similar companies failed. However, along the way Collins and his team definitely deliver a good foundation of what not to do and fascinating examples of how others succeeded.

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