26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Easy To Read Book With Some Good Insight
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...
Published on May 16 2002 by Peter Hupalo
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Great Hook, Not A Great Book
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...
Published on Nov. 17 2002 by A. Petrotchenkov
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Easy To Read Book With Some Good Insight,
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. That's very different from debating for the sake of protecting private turf and self-aggrandizement.
Collins' research says the CEO's at the time companies become great aren't egotistical business leaders. Rather, they tend to be reserved people who channel their ego into building their companies. Collins is a little vague on exactly how you get other employees and key players to channel their egos into building the company. The hope is that, if you select the right people, they'll do what's best for the company rather than for themselves. I'm not so sure that's always true.
Finding something you can be passionate about is the other key. And, all employees must be passionate about the endeavor. Because most employees won't get jazzed about making the CEO and shareholders wealthy, a company should have a purpose beyond just making money. Collins says a company should have 'core values.'
Collins says it doesn't matter what these 'core values' are, just that they exist. He says Philip Morris is happy to provide the strongest brand recognition of 'sinful' products. Maybe, they're rebelling against political correctness, or health, or whatever. If it works for them, it's cool. Fannie Mae, on the other hand, prides itself on providing mortgages to new, less-affluent homeowners and helping people buy homes. That sounds good, and is probably true, but it reads a little bit like a publicity statement.
Incidentally, the Great companies chosen were: Abbot Labs, Circuit City, Fannie Mae, Gillette, Kimberly-Clark, Kroger, Nucor, Philip Morris, Pitney Bowes, Walgreens, and Wells Fargo.
While many of Collins' observations have insight and are well worth reading, I can't help but feel that certain points are forced to conform to Collins' ideas. For example, Nucor realized it could be the world's best steel manufacturer. Why? Had Nucor failed, I could imagine reading that Nucor tried to run around like a fox. Possibly, this is only the result of needing to fit all Collins' research into a short book, and Nucor had a truly viable reason to believe it could be the world's best steel maker.
As another example, Collins tells us Walgreens spent $100 million to create its own satellite system in an attempt to enhance profit per customer visit. Collins admires this because they used technology to stay focused upon their key ratio of profitability. Of course, the Internet came along and offered easier communication between the stores, so that you can pick up your prescription at any store, even when away on vacation. But, should a drugstore rodent really be messing with satellites? Is that within his inner rodent?
My feeling is that if this had all bombed and Walgreens had not been bailed out by the Internet, Collins would be using Walgreens as a good example of going too far outside what your company can be the best at! I see a hedgehog on the information freeway following the shinny bright lines.
--Get the right people on the bus. Get the wrong people off the bus. Be sure everyone is in a seat that suits them. Collins says that the right people are your best asset. Let them choose their own song. 99 Bottles Of Beer On The Wall, or whatever...
--Let the right people discover something your company can be great at. (This won't always work for ultra-small companies-- by the time you have the right people and are paying them, you'll be out of money before anyone figures out what you should be doing!)
--Choose something that the company can be passionate about. Passion isn't dictated, it's discovered.
--Find your best single measure of profitability. Collins asks: If you could maximize profitability per x, what x would have the biggest long-term impact on your company's success? Then, stay focused on improving that one key ratio.
--Stop making 'to do' lists. Start making "stop doing" lists. Stop doing anything that doesn't fit within your inner rodent.
--Know that you will succeed in the end. Have faith in your company's destiny. But, realize it might take many years that really suck to get there. Collins says you must confront the brutal facts of your company's reality.
Peter Hupalo, Author of "Thinking Like An Entrepreneur"
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better Than Good, This Book Is Great,
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.
I like that Collins' work is not from the perspective of a practitioner who models his "how I did it" formula. Such a formula is often based on an extraordinary person in a unique circumstance and, as such, it isn't easily transferable. Neither is it the postulation of an unproven theory by a philosopher. Rather it is the objective conclusion of a researcher, who found what has worked and is reporting it for our benefit. As a pastor, I like the fact that the principles (especially the leadership findings) square with Scripture, and many of them can be directly applied to the local church. I think you will find the same in your occupation or profession. Whether you are a businessman or a person wanting to experience higher levels of achievement and satisfaction in life, I highly recommend "Good to Great."
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Great Hook, Not A Great Book,
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".
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Game Changer,
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.
3.0 out of 5 stars But, what about........?,
This review is from: Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't (Audio Cassette)
Read it - but maybe buy it used
This books does however ask some good questions about how to go from being good to GREAT such as:
1. What am I(or what is the company) intrinsically passionate about?
2. What is the company\I good at? and does this "thing" come naturally?
3. Finally does this area that was chosen have "GREAT" potential?
On the other hand, here are some questions that I felt were left unanswered:
Can't you be GREAT at two things at the same time?
According to Jack Welch's book, you should strive to be #1 OR #2.
btw: Aren't there three medals awarded in the Olympics?
What about sales? The Mary Kay Company motto is "Nothing happens until somebody sells something." (from her book)
What about creating barriers to entry for competitors? (to protect market share like Carnegie or Rockefeller did)
Why didn't you include MORE on the failures of the Good to Great companies? Not just the failures of the competition. Guys like Edison, Lincoln had many defeats before they found ultimate success.
Doesn't bouncing back from failures have something to do with going from Good to Great?
The author mentions getting the right people in the right seats on the bus and the wrong people off. I believe this is an oversimplification. Age, salary, tenure, unions, hierarchy etc make this a very difficult task to accomplish!!
Yes this book took 5 years to write and was supported by 21 staff researchers BUT I am not totally convinced of the results. (and I liked the first book - Built to Last)
That's why I gave it only 3 stars
3.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking, but with some big assumptions,
Collins does a great job of displaying the direct results of leadership decisions and character on big business. The book is insightful and well written. There are several assumptions however, for instance: that the reader's desire is to build a big business like Nucor or Walgreens. The book also assumes that the corporate climate of the last 50 or so years will continue into the future. The basic premise of the book seems to be passionate non-diversification. I think this book is helpful but should be balanced with a counter-perspective such as Tom Peters' "Re-imagine." The right answer is likely a little of both.
There is also somewhat of a disconnect (particularly in the audio version of the book) between Collins' dedication to empirical evidence and his passionate presentation of the results as being right. The results of what caused these 11 companies to meet Collins' standards are presented as universally correct with almost moral absolution. This makes it seem less scientific than it claims to be.
5.0 out of 5 stars Good to Great review,
There is a silent revolution occurring in today's workplace, and one of the prime movers in this revolution is Jim Collins' book, Good to Great. Sectors ranging from public schools to professional sports teams have all flocked to Collins credo that "Good is the enemy of great." At last count, almost 1.5 million copies of the book have been printed and sold, according to publisher HarperCollins, and it's expected to pass 2 million copies by year's end.
So what is the secret behind the phenomenal success of Collins' work? In a word, versatility. Collins and his team of graduate students based the book on five years of research and analyzed over 1,400 public companies to first distinguish the "great" companies from the "good" companies and then attempt to explain how the great companies made the leap. Collins' team ultimately identified 11 firms as sustained great performers over a requisite 15 year timeline.
Collins succinctly identifies the distinguishing characteristics of these high-flyers. First, all great companies analyzed by Collins' team had Level 5 leadership A Level 5 leader is characterized not by ego and self-aggrandizement, but by humility coupled with an iron will. Michael Eisner and Lee Iacocca, for example, are seen as brilliant business leaders but clearly not Level 5 leaders. Abraham Lincoln, by comparison, is cited by Collins as the consummate Level 5 leader.
Having a Level 5 leader is only the beginning though. Collins also stresses the importance of "getting the right people on the bus" and once you have the right people on the bus, getting them in the right seat. To illustrate this point, Collins recounts the work of Hewlett-Packard when upon expanding, began a frenzy of hiring candidates based not solely on the individual's academic record or job experience, but based on their talent. According to this philosophy, a firm should first and foremost hire talented people and then worry about defining roles rather than the roles defining the individuals.
Collins also speaks of the importance of identifying a "Hedgehog Concept". Simply state, this means an organization focusing one the one thing they can do better than any other company. When companies begin to focus their efforts on a hedgehog concept, the company begins turning a "flywheel" which gains momentum with each push.
Just as important as his clever catch-phrases, Collins' work is backed up by meticulous research. It is obvious after reading this book that Collins and his army of graduate students did their homework not only in identifying the good to great companies, but also analyzing what factors contributed to their increased performance. Hard empirical data and practical solutions, not gooey platitudes and empty rhetoric, are the earmarks of Good to Great.
By any measure, Good to Great is a fine read and a significant addition to the body of business research. It should find itself among the classic management books of our generation as it combines first-rate research with an element of practicality that few others can match.
5.0 out of 5 stars Good to Great is required reading for school administrators,
Good to Great should be required reading for school administrators. There are some striking concepts that make sense for school leaders. First, it's not that Level 5 Leaders aren't ambitious or have self-interest, it's just that their primary ambition is for the success of the institution. Humility and will (an unwavering resolve) are essential for Level 5 leadership. One of the analogies of a Level 5 leader is "plow horse rather than show horse." Great leaders tend to come up from within the company, rather than a celebrity outsider.
I found it interesting that Level 5 leaders tend to attribute their success to luck, not greatness within themselves. This seems to contradict earlier thought wherein women were encouraged to stop attributing success to luck and to accept kudos for doing well. In the past, it was thought women limited their acknowledgement of success by attributing it to sources outside of themselves.
Another concept in the book that I strongly agreed with was to lead with questions. This strongly concurs with what I believe about good leadership. Companies that tend to ask open-ended questions and search out the "what if's" would seem to be positioned to capture market changes more quickly than companies that stride ahead on one path without considering options. Cisco Systems seems to do this well and, as a result, didn't suffer in the same way as many of the other Silicon Valley companies.
It seems to me that Warren Buffet exemplifies Level 5 leadership. He strikes me as a steady, methodical plow horse, rather than showy. Collins also addresses the importance of mentoring others to eventually replace the Level 5 leader. I wonder how easy or difficult it is for great leaders to mentor others?
Many school leaders typify Level 5 leadership; however, some are still are on the journey to get there. I would encourage every school leader or emerging leader to add this book to their reading list this summer.
4.0 out of 5 stars Great companies cultivate their employees,
By A Customer
This was a not great, but still good book about the factors that allow companies to get "over the hump" to become successful long-term.
This differs from other books that crowd this over-overpacked genre because of it's focus on companies that, rather than going hog-wild about big-name execs and the latest and greatest computer gadgets, don't treat their employees like commodities ready for the outsourcing mill. Collins' book shows how successful companies focus on cultivating their people-- on picking the best ones, nurturing their drive to buy into the corporate mission, and building work relationships among each other that are strong enough to get thru the down times.
This book is good if nothing else as an antidote to all the hoopla out there about how employees are dispensable and easily replaceable. It's this poor set of ideas that causes so many companies to look at employees like just some other number on the balance sheet and outsource jobs abroad in a way that the employee relationships and teamwork aren't built up. These companies can have success for a while, but they tend to break down long term because they lack those basic relationships among it's core people, all the trust that's needed to bring the company thru those tough trials when they come.
5.0 out of 5 stars Unwavering resolve to do what must be done,
By A Customer
Unwavering resolve to do what must be done! Ah -- a characteristic of the Level 5 (Good to Great) leader, described in this well researched book that shows the reader what it takes to take a good company to greatness. Personal humility fortified with professional will gives Good to Great leaders the edge on their ego-driven counterparts. Collins makes many marvellous points, the first being that the RIGHT people are your most important asset. By rising above unrealistic optimism, confronting brutal facts and asking questions that lead to the greatest insights (optimal thinking), the leader moves his company to greatness. Good to Great leaders focus on the few things that have the greatest impact (optimal thinking). Collins won me when he said "One of the primary ways to de-motivate people is to ignore the brutal facts of reality." Good to Great leaders create a culture where the truth is heard, and where negative thinking is not degraded or scorned (optimal thinking). This book is a must read!
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Good To Great Cd: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Other's Don't by Jim Collins (Audio CD - Oct. 4 2001)
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