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Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't [Hardcover]

Jim Collins
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (315 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 4 2001

The Challenge
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?

The Study
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?

The Standards
Usingtough 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 Comparisons
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
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 wasshocked 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?


  • Frequently Bought Together

    Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't + Built To Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies + Great By Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck--Why Some Thrive Despite Them All
    Price For All Three: CDN$ 62.25


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    Product Description

    From Amazon

    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

    From Publishers Weekly

    In what Collins terms a prequel to the bestseller Built to Last he wrote with Jerry Porras, this worthwhile effort explores the way good organizations can be turned into ones that produce great, sustained results. To find the keys to greatness, Collins's 21-person research team (at his management research firm) read and coded 6,000 articles, generated more than 2,000 pages of interview transcripts and created 384 megabytes of computer data in a five-year project. That Collins is able to distill the findings into a cogent, well-argued and instructive guide is a testament to his writing skills. After establishing a definition of a good-to-great transition that involves a 10-year fallow period followed by 15 years of increased profits, Collins's crew combed through every company that has made the Fortune 500 (approximately 1,400) and found 11 that met their criteria, including Walgreens, Kimberly Clark and Circuit City. At the heart of the findings about these companies' stellar successes is what Collins calls the Hedgehog Concept, a product or service that leads a company to outshine all worldwide competitors, that drives a company's economic engine and that a company is passionate about. While the companies that achieved greatness were all in different industries, each engaged in versions of Collins's strategies. While some of the overall findings are counterintuitive (e.g., the most effective leaders are humble and strong-willed rather than outgoing), many of Collins's perspectives on running a business are amazingly simple and commonsense. This is not to suggest, however, that executives at all levels wouldn't benefit from reading this book; after all, only 11 companies managed to figure out how to change their B grade to an A on their own.

    Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


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    Customer Reviews

    Most helpful customer reviews
    26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars A Easy To Read Book With Some Good Insight May 16 2002
    Format:Hardcover
    At 210 pages, "Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make The Leap and Others Don't" reads very quickly (The last section of "Good To Great" consists of many notes and appendices). The core of the book emphasizes what Collins refers to as a 'hedgehog' strategy that is necessary to achieve greatness. I'm not sure why a 'hedgehog' is necessary to explain such a simple strategy. But, I guess we can live with the rodent analogy.
    Collins says great companies are like hedgehogs in that they stick to what they know and can do well. Collins says when a fox attacks a hedgehog the hedgehog curls into a prickly ball and the attacking fox must leave it alone. Then, the fox runs around and tries another point of attack and never learns. The hedgehogs only needs to do one thing that works well and consistently.
    In short, after much research and writing, Collins finds the key to business success is functioning within the intersection of three circles.
    The first circle represents an endeavor at which your company has the potential to be the best in the world. The second circle represents what your company can feel passionate about. The third circle represents a measure of profitability that can drive your economic success. You must choose to do something that's profitable and know how to focus upon that profitability.
    To find the circles, Collins makes the excellent point that you must begin with the right people. Collins emphasizes that the people must come before you decide exactly how your company will achieve success.
    We learn that in great companies there is often heated debate about what's best for the company. The culture of great companies is open in the sense that the truth will be heard.
    Read more ›
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    7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Better Than Good, This Book Is Great May 23 2002
    Format:Hardcover
    If you liked Jim Collins' book, "Built to Last," you will love his follow up called, "Good to Great." This is one of those rare cases, where the sequel is actually better than the original. "Good to Great" is more than a business book. It is a book with principles applicable to many aspects of life. Collins challenges his readers to aspire to greatness rather than the mediocrity of being good. He says, "Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life."
    In Collins' study to be considered "great," a company's stock had to earn more than triple the general stock market for fifteen consecutive years. The research found seven keys common with the eleven companies, which were able to make the "Good to Great" transition:
    1. LEVEL FIVE LEADERSHIP - They had leaders who were a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.
    2. FIRST WHO...THEN WHAT - People are not the most important asset. The right people are.
    3. CONFRONT THE BRUTAL FACTS - They maintained unwavering faith that they would prevail in the end, and at the same time the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of the current reality.
    4. THE HEDGEHOG CONCEPT - Their core business was that at which they could be the best in the world.
    5. THE CULTURE OF DISCIPLINE - When a company employs disciplined people hierarchy, bureaucracy, and excessive controls are not necessary.
    6. TECHNOLOGY ACCELERATORS - Technology by itself is never a primary, root cause of either greatness or decline.
    7. THE FLYWHEEL AND THE DOOM LOOP - Good-to-great transformation never happened in one fell swoop but as a relentless push to breakthrough and beyond.
    Read more ›
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    1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars A Great Hook, Not A Great Book Nov. 17 2002
    Format:Hardcover
    The book is very well researched and reads very smoothly. At 210 pages, "Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make The Leap and Others Don't" reads very quickly. Jim Collins writes in a clear, concise style that uses effective analogies to get his points across. But I gained little from reading this book. The insights are good but not great, they are simply not new. The road to greatness according to Jim Collins is:
    1. Get the right people
    2. Set the right goals
    3. Execute relentlessly
    The data mining exercise that Jim Collins put his team through yielded few surprising results, and whatever useful lessons can be drawn from the exercise I can summarize in 10 pages. This is a deep quackery, another "Who Moved My Cheese" for people who spend all day in meetings trading consultant speak, thinking they're working and "adding value".
    Was this review helpful to you?
    2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Game Changer Nov. 23 2011
    Format:Hardcover
    Saved from over a year ago - reread my blog post - here were my initial thoughts on Good to Great - its a Game Changer for sure -

    So I finished the book Good to Great on the weekend and I have been working through some of the ideas all week' pretty solid material in there. I would strongly recommend anyone in business to check it out.

    Here are my highlights from the book, (kinda like a grade 5 book report) these are the main points that stuck out to me as it pertains to my business.

    ~ Business is like a bus, you have to bring the right people on the bus, that also means getting the wrong people off the bus. Once you have the right on and the wrong off, at that point you can figure out where people will sit. Hire the best possible people regardless of their skill sets, skills can be taught but quality character is tough to find.

    ~ You need to be doing something you are passionate about

    ~ You need to be doing something that you can be the best in the world at

    ~ You need to build a culture of discipline. This means having a to do list and a to dont list.

    ~ Once you have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish, pursue it relentlessly, make decisions according to what will get you there' and keep going. Great opportunities will present themselves, but if they don't line up with where you are going, they will kill the momentum of your forward direction.

    ~ What you don't do is just as important as what you do

    So that is what I think anyway' pretty simple, but what a great book' it is sitting in my head like it weighs 400 lbs.
    Was this review helpful to you?
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    Most recent customer reviews
    5.0 out of 5 stars After searching all over for a book written more recently that works...
    We to several varieties of Management Planning and Leadership workshops and retreats. After searching all over for a book written more recently that works as well as Good to Great,... Read more
    Published 7 days ago by Occasional Critic
    5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
    Excellent!
    Published 1 month ago by Siobhan Brown
    5.0 out of 5 stars Collins Nails It
    Jim Collins' concept on good to great companies is a truly inspiring story for anyone who is an entrepreneur or executive in both small and large businesses.
    Published 7 months ago by Josh Henderson
    5.0 out of 5 stars A Business Classic
    A must read for anyone involved in change. Jim Collins is amazing -- his research and examples help you visualize the potential for your company and there are some tremendous... Read more
    Published 7 months ago by Mike P
    4.0 out of 5 stars Valuable career advice & good work philosophy
    Very thorough and well-considered arguments on how companies become great after a long period of quiet. Read more
    Published 14 months ago by cellomerl
    5.0 out of 5 stars A great read
    I like:
    The 'science' approach
    The easiness of reading

    I dislike:
    Nothing

    I recommended:
    To the managers above me in our company
    Published 15 months ago by Jeannot Girard
    5.0 out of 5 stars Sound and solid advice for building your business
    I was very impressed with From Good to Great and have recommended it to small business owners. I liked how the metrics for achieving a great ranking for your business included... Read more
    Published 17 months ago by Larry Arrance
    4.0 out of 5 stars A strong and useful examination of what makes an organization great
    This book is a very useful, not overly long study of 11 companies that went from "good" to "great" based on a very particular measure. Read more
    Published on July 5 2012 by Rodge
    1.0 out of 5 stars One of the phoney gurus
    In Built to last, The Economist writes about one of the phoney gurus that the US is good at producing: Jim Collins. We agree when they write: 'This is not to say that Mr. Read more
    Published on March 15 2012 by Eauze
    5.0 out of 5 stars Great book - not just for companies
    Jim Collins and his team sure seems to know what they're talking about. This was informative, objective and a great read - useful data presented in an engaging and very readable... Read more
    Published on Jan. 16 2012 by J. Taylor
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