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Going from “Good” to “Great”

This post is derived from concepts highlighted in “Good to Great”. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t is a management book by Jim C. Collins that describes how companies transition from being good companies to great companies, and how most companies fail to make the transition. 

If you want to read the full book, you can find it here — it’s definitely one of my favorites.


What is greatness?

We all chase it.. 

But do we even know what it is?

Is it tangible, attainable? achievable? 

Well.. yes… but only if it’s defined and we can both agree on what “Greatness” is. 

To achieve something we must mutually agree on what milestones must be met, before we mutually agree that we have achieved “it”.

So — to achieve greatness, we need to define it.

In the novel “Good to Great”, Jim Collins defines “Greatness” through the lens of corporate performance and excellence. 

“Greatness” is defined by Collins by a company that achieves financial performance several multiples better than the market average, over a sustained period.

Collins and his research team identified a set of elite companies that had made the transition from good to great — and sustained that performance for at least fifteen years.

So now that we have a relatively popular and common understanding — let’s dive further into what components allowed a company to go from “Good” to “Great”.

Collins identified several key characteristics of pieces of companies that allowed them to make this leap.

Here’s his list (summarized).

  1. Level 5 Leadership: Leaders who are humble, but driven to do what’s best for the company.
  2. First Who, Then What: Get the right people on the bus, then figure out where to go. Find the right people and try them out in different seats on the bus (different positions in the company).
  3. Confront the Brutal Facts: The Stockdale paradox — Confront the brutal truth of the situation, yet at the same time, never give up hope.
  4. Hedgehog Concept: Three overlapping circles: What lights your fire (“passion”)? What could you be best in the world at (“best at”)? What makes you money (“driving resource”)?
  5. Culture of Discipline: Rinsing the cottage cheese.
  6. Technology Accelerators: Using technology to accelerate growth, within the three circles of the hedgehog concept.
  7. The Flywheel: The additive effect of many small initiatives; they act on each other like compound interest.

Collins found that the main reason certain companies become great is they narrowly focus the company’s resources on their field of key competence.

Now let’s break this down.

I’m going to relate these 7 skillsets that companies have to focus on, to personal skills.

  1. Humble
  2. People First
  3. Honesty & Expectations Based in Reality
  4. Passion, Skill, Ability
  5. Discipline
  6. Tools & Enablement
  7. Baby Steps & Micro Wins

If you can understand how these factors enable a company to accelerate from Good to Great.

I think we can easily see how an individual who incorporates these into their life can also achieve massive success.

The tools that drive success are not so obscure and obtuse and the more we can understand that the tools, temperaments and formula for success is not so gray, but in fact very clearly black and white, the ability to achieve success becomes less of a problem of us floundering and more of a problem of grit, perseverance and tenacity — something we all have absolute control over.

And when we all know that we have complete control over our “Greatness” life…

In all of its uncertainty — becomes a little bit more comfortable, and our own future becomes a little bit clearer.

Happy Monday — Go Kick Ass.

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