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Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck--Why Some Thrive Despite Them All Hardcover – Oct 11 2011

4.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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  • Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck--Why Some Thrive Despite Them All
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness; 1 edition (Oct. 11 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062120999
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062120991
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.7 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 544 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #13,769 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

“A sensible, well-timed and precisely targeted message for companies shaken by macroeconomic crises” (Financial Times)

“Collins and Hansen draw some interesting and counterintuitive conclusions from their research….far from a dry work of social science. Mr. Collins has a way with words, not least with metaphor.” (Wall Street Journal)

Entrepreneurs and business leaders may find the concepts in this book useful for making choices to increase their odds of building a great company. (Booklist)

From the Back Cover

The new question
Ten years after the worldwide bestseller Good to Great, Jim Collins returns with another groundbreaking work, this time to ask: Why do some companies thrive in uncertainty, even chaos, and others do not? Based on nine years of research, buttressed by rigorous analysis and infused with engaging stories, Collins and his colleague, Morten Hansen, enumerate the principles for building a truly great enterprise in unpredictable, tumultuous, and fast-moving times.

The new study
Great by Choice distinguishes itself from Collins’s prior work by its focus not just on performance, but also on the type of unstable environments faced by leaders today.

With a team of more than twenty researchers, Collins and Hansen studied companies that rose to greatness—beating their industry indexes by a minimum of ten times over fifteen years—in environments characterized by big forces and rapid shifts that leaders could not predict or control. The research team then contrasted these “10X companies” to a carefully selected set of comparison companies that failed to achieve greatness in similarly extreme environments.

The new findings
The study results were full of provocative surprises. Such as:

  • The best leaders were not more risk taking, more visionary, and more creative than the comparisons; they were more disciplined, more empirical, and more paranoid.
  • Innovation by itself turns out not to be the trump card in a chaotic and uncertain world; more important is the ability to scale innovation, to blend creativity with discipline.
  • Following the belief that leading in a “fast world” always requires “fast decisions” and “fast action” is a good way to get killed.
  • The great companies changed less in reaction to a radically changing world than the comparison companies.

The authors challenge conventional wisdom with thought-provoking, sticky, and supremely practical concepts. They include: 10Xers; the 20 Mile March; Fire Bullets, Then Cannonballs; Leading above the Death Line; Zoom Out, Then Zoom In; and the SMaC Recipe.

Finally, in the last chapter, Collins and Hansen present their most provocative and original analysis: defining, quantifying, and studying the role of luck. The great companies and the leaders who built them were not luckier than the comparisons, but they did get a higher Return on Luck.

This book is classic Collins: contrarian, data-driven, and uplifting. He and Hansen show convincingly that, even in a chaotic and uncertain world, greatness happens by choice, not chance.

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
For as long as I can remember, Jim Collins has been a research-driven business thinker. In each of his prior books, he and his associates (usually Morten Hansen among them) share what was revealed during many years of research to learn the answer to an especially important question. For Built to Last, it was "Why are some companies able to achieve and sustain success through multiple generations of leaders, across decades and even centuries?"; in Good to Great, "Why do some companies make the leap from good to great... and others don't?"; then in How the Might Fall, "How and why do some once great companies fall and other companies never give in to the same challenges, problems, and setbacks?"; and now in Great by Choice, "Why do some companies thrive in uncertainty, even chaos, and others do not?"

Collins, Hansen, and their colleagues conducted a nine-year study (2002-2011) and share what they learned. Here are the findings that caught my eye:

1. For reasons best revealed within the book's narrative, in context, some companies and leaders thrive in chaos. Those on whom the book focuses have out-performed their industry's index by at least 10 times and (key point) under the same extreme conditions with which others in the same industry must also contend.

2. Characterized as "10X" companies, those selected were paired in a "near-perfect match" -- for purposes of both comparison and contrast - with companies during "eras of dynastic performance that ended in 2002, not the companies as they are today. It's entirely possible that by the time you read these words, one or two of the companies on the list [i.e. Amgen, Biomet, Intel, Microsoft, Progressive Insurance, Southwest Airlines, and Stryker] has stumbled, falling from greatness."

3.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a "Great Choice" (pun intended) if you are interested in learning about what makes great organizations and more so leaders great. I thoroughly enjoyed this book even through the dry points/facts. I love facts but sometimes it tended to go on a little to long but overall a winner.
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Format: Hardcover
This book sounds like some kind of limp follow-up to Good to Great, but it's anything but. Rather this is a fresh study of companies that thrived in industries and circumstances that were chaotic and unpredictable. Through patient and exhaustive study, Collins & Hansen unearth some key patterns in what made these companies outstanding. And as you might paradoxically expect, the findings are surprising, or at least they do not abide by the cliché of what creates business success. As worthwhile as any of Collins' previous books.
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