Book Review & Discussion : Good to Great

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Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don't

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In this event, you’ll learn

  • The Myth of the Change Program: This approach comes with the launch event, the tag line, and the cascading activities.
  • The Myth of the Burning Platform: This one says that change starts only when there’s a crisis that persuades “unmotivated” employees to accept the need for change.
  • The Myth of Stock Options: Stock options, high salaries, and bonuses are incentives that grease the wheels of change.
  • The Myth of Fear-Driven Change: The fear of being left behind, the fear of watching others win, the fear of presiding over monumental failure—all are drivers of change, we’re told.
  • The Myth of Acquisitions: You can buy your way to growth, so it figures that you can buy your way to greatness.
  • The Myth of Technology-Driven Change: The breakthrough that you’re looking for can be achieved by using technology to leapfrog the competition.
  • The Myth of Revolution: Big change has to be wrenching, extreme, painful—one big, discontinuous, shattering break.

About the author

Jim Collins is a student and teacher of what makes great companies tick, and a Socratic advisor to leaders in the business and social sectors. Having invested more than a quarter century in rigorous research, he has authored or coauthored six books that have sold in total more than 10 million copies worldwide. They include Good to Great, the #1 bestseller, which examines why some companies make the leap to superior results, along with its companion work Good to Great and the Social Sectors; the enduring classic Built to Last, which explores how some leaders build companies that remain visionary for generations; How the Mighty Fall, which delves into how once-great companies can self-destruct; and Great by Choice, which is about thriving in chaos—why some do, and others don't.

His most recent publication is Turning the Flywheel. It explores how leaders can best harness the flywheel effect to build and accelerate momentum.

Driven by a relentless curiosity, Jim began his research and teaching career on the faculty at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he received the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1992. In 1995, he founded a management laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, where he conducts research and engages with CEOs and senior-leadership teams.


1. Level 5 Leadership (Process stage: Buildup; Phase: Disciplined People)

Research has shown that leaders who have brought the ‘Good to Great’ transformation are not the one’s who are charismatic or big personalities but are rather quiet, shy, deliberate. They are the one’s who have the combination of humility and professional will. Organisations that strive to become great need to have a Level 5 leader.

Author explains leadership in terms of 5 different levels (see above image) with Level 5 being the highest level in the hierarchy. Following are the traits of a Level 5 leader:

  • They first and foremost think about the success of their organisation and then personal riches
  • These are the leaders who are shy but show extreme fierceness in getting the job done
  • These people think about the future of their companies without them and plan about their succession
  • They are modest and rarely like to talk about themselves or their achievements.They prefer to share the credit with others as opposed to other “good” company leaders who are self obsessed and egalitarians
  • Level 5 leaders always apportioned the credit of success to others and if there were no one to credit they credited towards ‘Luck’

2. First who ..then what (Process stage: Buildup; Phase: Disciplined People)

It is a known fact that the right team is needed to achieve the success but what is even more important is to build the right team even before you know what and which path to take towards greatness and hence it is ‘first who..then what’. It is important to assemble a team of great people first and then decide on the strategy or vision for the company to make it great. The main reason is that when people join you for the strategy or the direction of the company then there is no guarantee that they will stick around or be equally motivated when the company changes its path. But those who are on the team because of someone else on the team will always be there to make the company great regardless of its direction. The author uses a phrase ‘getting right people on the bus AND getting wrong people off the bus’ and it is the ‘wrong people off the bus’ that is equally important. The only way to deliver to the people who are achieving is not to burden them with people who are not achieving.

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