Discovering Life, Learning and Leadership

Good To Great

Jim Collins

Have you ever wondered why some organizations do so much better than others?  Why do some achieve greatness and others don’t?  Do you want to be part of something great?

Jim Collins’ book Good To Great has been extremely helpful to me as a leader.  The first chapter, “Good Is the Enemy of Great” sets the tone for the book while providing thought provoking and compelling research.  I like to read and enjoy learning and thus found this book to be both interesting and educational.

Here are the five things that I found most helpful and why you should read the book:

  1. Level 5 Leadership.  We live in a world that desperately needs more great leaders.  Jim presents five levels of leadership and outlines how some leaders are able to build “enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.”  I found this challenging and powerful.
  2. First Who … Then What.  Since I read it in January 2004, I have pulled Good To Great off my bookshelf several times to reference practical advice on how to get the right people on the “bus” (your team) and in the right seats.
  3. Confront the Brutal Facts.  Collins shares thoughts and stories that I have found encouraging when facing difficult challenges.  He talks about how to confront the brutal facts without losing faith.  I like the story about “The Stockdale Paradox.”
  4. Hedgehog Concept.  This is a great concept and, while powerful, can be rather challenging to implement.  At Creation Technologies, it literally took us several years to define our Hedgehog Concept.  As painful as that process was, now that we have it clearly defined, our Hedgehog Concept has proven to be a valuable part of our Vision & Strategy.  Among other things, we use our Hedgehog Concept to screen potential Strategic Initiatives.
  5. A Culture of Discipline.  Jim presents how great organizations combine a Culture of Discipline with an Ethic of Entrepreneurship.  Given that one of our Core Values at Creation Technologies is Entrepreneurship, and given that I am a strong believer that it is crucial for leaders to be disciplined, I appreciated this concept as it showed how to combine discipline with entrepreneurship.  I enjoyed the story about “Rinsing Your Cottage Cheese.”

There are several other major topics covered in Good To Great which you will find useful and I highly recommend that you read it.  Given that I do a considerable amout of volunteer work with churches and other charitable organizations, I also read Collins’ publication Good To Great and the Social Sectors, which he describes as “a monograph to accompany Good To Great.”

In my personal reading spreadsheet, I track and rate the books I read on a scale from 0 to 10 where 10 is excellent.  In reality, I seldom finish reading any book that I don’t expect to be at least a 4 on my scale.  I rate Good To Great at a 9 which is the highest rating I have given any book, except one (guess which is my only 10).  There are only a limited number of books that I have rated a 9 so this one is well worth your read.

Have you read Good To Great?  If so, what did you think of it?

20 Comments to Good To Great

  1. Mitch Nelson's Gravatar Mitch Nelson
    Jun 13, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    Arthur, do you have any more “GOOD READS” on your personal spreedsheet that you would recommend?

    Best Regards,

  2. Brenda Acker's Gravatar Brenda Acker
    Jun 14, 2011 at 3:10 am | Permalink

    Would the company send books to the different BU’s for purchase? Sometimes we all get busy as you well know and if the books were avaiable on site I believe more people would buy and read the books. You know what they say, Out of sight out of mind! Just a suggestion for the company. I know I would be interested in a program of this type.
    Thank you for taking the time to read my e-mail

    Sincerly, Brenda Acker
    Milwaukee BU

  3. Mary M Russell's Gravatar Mary M Russell
    Jun 14, 2011 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    No, I haven’t read Good to Great, it sounds interesting and I will definitely put it on my wishlist. I am reading Sharks in Suits: when Psychopaths go to Work. I rate this book as a 9 and recommend it to everyone in a management and/or an H.R. (P&C) position. I now understand how and why some of the destructive people I’ve worked with (when we were still Eder) kept their jobs for as long as they did. It also explains how a good or even great company can “surprisingly” fail.

  4. Carol Wagner's Gravatar Carol Wagner
    Jun 14, 2011 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the recommendation I’m going to get and read a copy. Reading your highest rated book is what I really need to get back to. Thanks for your encouragement to be better. It was nice to meet you again when you were here in Milwaukee. Please stop by NPI next time you return.

    God Bless you and yours,
    Carol Wagner
    NPI Captain

  5. charles tonna's Gravatar charles tonna
    Jun 14, 2011 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Good to Great is a great read, a definite book worth reading twice… Arthur, I am guessing the Bible is your “10”? :-). What did you rate The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey? That is another one worth reading multiple times in my opinion. Have you read Nobodies to Somebodies by Peter Han? I am just starting it.. I would imagine you have a great story to tell in your leadership journey (this book is about how great leaders got their start).
    Looking forward to seeing your list of “9’s”

    • Mary M Russell's Gravatar Mary M Russell
      Jun 15, 2011 at 6:00 am | Permalink

      Hi Charles, I’m really interested in hearing what you think about Nobodies to Somebodies. This is the first I’ve heard of it.

  6. John C. Anderson's Gravatar John C. Anderson
    Jun 20, 2011 at 5:11 am | Permalink

    I read Collins’ Good to Great and liked it. We can get stuck in good and not take it to the next level. Thomas Moore’s books have been a great inspiration to me, as well. And for great movies, try Stand and Deliver. My brother-in-law met the teacher whom the movie is based upon. “You can do it, Charlie, we all can…”

  7. John C. Anderson's Gravatar John C. Anderson
    Jun 20, 2011 at 5:14 am | Permalink

    Yes, subscribe me to posts, too.

  8. David Divoky's Gravatar David Divoky
    Jul 23, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Hi Arthur!

    Yes, it is a great book with many lessons to be learned.

    I like the quote: “For, in the end, it is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life. And it is very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work.”
    — Jim Collins

    To me the key to living a full and meaningful life is first discovering a relationship with Jesus Christ and then following the Lord on an amazing adventure through a life of faith.

    I really enjoy reading your thoughts and reflections. Keep it up!


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