Good to Great

By Jim Collins

Flywheel vs. Doomloop

  • “No matter how dramatic the end result, the good-to-great transformations never happened in one fell swoop. There was no single defining action, no grand problem, no one killer innovation, not solitary lucky break, no miracle moment” (p. 186)
  • “Sustainable transformations follow a predictable pattern of buildup and breakthrough. Like pushing a giant, heavy flywheel, it takes a lot of effort to get the thing moving at all, but with persistent pushing in a consistent direction over a long period of time, the flywheel builds momentum, eventually hitting a point of breakthrough” (p. 186).

Greatness vs. Success

  • “Enduring great companies don’t exist merely to deliver returns to shareholders…” (p. 194)
  • “Indeed, the real question is not, ‘Why greatness?’ but ‘What work makes you feel compelled to try to create greatness?’ If you have to ask the question ‘Why should we try to make it great? Isn’t success enough?’ then you’re probably engaged in the wrong line of work.

Disciplined People

  • Level 5 Leadership
    • A paradoxical mix of personal humility (give others credit [window] for what when right and take the blame [mirror] for what went wrong and professional will (results, diligence)
    • Equals Servant Leadership
  • First Who, Then What
    • “Who?” questions come before “what?” questions
    • Sustainable succession vs a genius with a thousand helpers” (p. 47)
    • Right people “on the bus;” wrong people “off the bus”
    • Best people on greatest opportunities, not problems
    • No doubtful hiring.
    • Validate change (change when it is not just a matter of having someone in the wrong seat on the bus)
    • Leading people is inspiring them with a vision and example
    • Compensation doesn’t motivate the right behaviors from the wrong people; “Whether someone is the ‘right person’ has more to do with character traits and innate capabilities than specific knowledge, background, or skill” (p. 64); the right people are self-motivated
    • Layoffs are not a strategy to meet numbers

Disciplined Thought

  • Confront the Brutal Facts
    • Create a culture in which the truth can be heard
      • Lead with questions
      • Encourage engagement/participation (LDRS 291!)
      • Review (“conduct autopsies”) without blame
    • Retain hope that no matter what your team will succeed
  • Hedgehog Concept
    • “Hedgehogs simplify a complex world into a single organizing idea, a basic principle or concept that unifies and guides everything (p. 91).
      • Understanding what the team can be best at the world at doing (vs. want to be best at) and what it cannot be best at the world at
      • Understanding what the team is most passionate about doing
      • Understanding what sustains the team economically – it’s economic engine
      • Defining the Hedgehog Concept is an iterative process

Disciplined Action

  • Culture of Discipline
    • “Bureaucratic cultures arise to compensate for incompetence and lack of discipline, which arise from having the wrong people on the bus in the first place. If you get the right people on the bus, and the wrong people off, you don’t need stultifying bureaucracy” (p. 142)
    • “The single most important form of discipline for sustained results is fanatical adherence to the Hedgehog Concept and the willingness to shun opportunities that fall outside the three circles” (p. 142)
    • Is there such a thing as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?
  • Technology Accelerators
    • “Does the technology fit directly with your Hedgehog Concept?” (p. 162)
    • “Great companies respond with thoughtfulness and creativity…mediocre companies react and lurch about…(p. 162).