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Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't

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To find the keys to greatness, Collins's 21-person research team read and coded 6,000 articles, generated more than 2,000 pages of interview transcripts and created 384 megabytes of computer data in a five-year project. The findings will surprise many readers and, quite frankly, upset others.

The Challenge
Built to Last, the defining management study of the nineties, showed how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the very beginning.

But what about the company that is not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness?

The Study
For years, this question preyed on the mind of Jim Collins. Are there companies that defy gravity and convert long-term mediocrity or worse into long-term superiority? And if so, what are the universal distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great?

The Standards
Using tough benchmarks, Collins and his research team identified a set of elite companies that made the leap to great results and sustained those results for at least fifteen years. How great? After the leap, the good-to-great companies generated cumulative stock returns that beat the general stock market by an average of seven times in fifteen years, better than twice the results delivered by a composite index of the world's greatest companies, including Coca-Cola, Intel, General Electric, and Merck.

The Comparisons
The research team contrasted the good-to-great companies with a carefully selected set of comparison companies that failed to make the leap from good to great. What was different? Why did one set of companies become truly great performers while the other set remained only good?

The Findings
The findings of the Good to Great study will surprise many readers and shed light on virtually every area of management strategy and practice. The findings include:
Level 5 Leaders: The research team was shocked to discover the type of leadership required to achieve greatness.

The Hedgehog Concept (Simplicity within the Three Circles): To go from good to great requires transcending the curse of competence.

A Culture of Discipline: When you combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get the magical alchemy of great results. Technology Accelerators: Good-to-great companies think differently about the role of technology.

The Flywheel and the Doom Loop: Those who launch radical change programs and wrenching restructurings will almost certainly fail to make the leap.

300 pages, Hardcover

First published November 1, 2001

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About the author

James C. Collins

39 books2,092 followers
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

Jim Collins is a student and teacher of enduring great companies — how they grow, how they attain superior performance, and how good companies can become great companies. Having invested over a decade of research into the topic, Jim has authored or co-authored four books, including the classic BUILT TO LAST, which has been a fixture on the Business Week best seller list for more than six years, and has been translated into 29 languages. His work has been featured in Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Harvard Business Review, and Fast Company.

Jim’s book, GOOD TO GREAT: Why Some Companies Make the Leap ... And Others Don’t, attained long-running positions on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Business Week best seller lists, has sold 3 million hardcover copies since publication and has been translated into 35 languages, including such languages as Latvian, Mongolian and Vietnamese.

His most recent book, HOW THE MIGHTY FALL: And Why Some Companies Never Give In, was published on May 19, 2009.

Driven by a relentless curiosity, Jim began his research and teaching career on the faculty at 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 now conducts research and teaches executives from the corporate and social sectors. Jim holds degrees in business administration and mathematical sciences from Stanford University, and honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Colorado and the Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University.

Jim has served as a teacher to senior executives and CEOs at over a hundred corporations. He has also worked with social sector organizations, such as: Johns Hopkins Medical School, the Girl Scouts of the USA, the Leadership Network of Churches, the American Association of K-12 School Superintendents, and the United States Marine Corps. In 2005 he published a monograph: Good to Great and the Social Sectors.

In addition, Jim is an avid rock climber and has made one-day ascents of the North Face of Half Dome and the Nose route on the South Face of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley. He continues to climb at the 5.13 grade.

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Profile Image for Jamie.
Author 4 books164 followers
August 1, 2008
This book by Jim Collins is one of the most successful books to be found in the "Business" section of your local megabookstore, and given how it purports to tell you how to take a merely good company and make it great, it's not difficult to see why that might be so. Collins and his crack team of researchers say they swam through stacks of business literature in search of info on how to pull this feat off, and came up with a list of great companies that illustrate some concepts central to the puzzle. They also present for each great company what they call a "comparison company," which is kind of that company with a goatee and a much less impressive earnings record. The balance of the book is spent expanding on pithy catch phrases that describe the great companies, like "First Who, Then What" or "Be a Hedgehog" or "Grasp the Flywheel, not the Doom Loop." No, no, I'm totally serious.

I've got several problems with this book, the biggest of which stem from fundamentally viewpoints on how to do research. Collin's brand of research is not my kind. It's not systematic, it's not replicable, it's not generalizable, it's not systematic, it's not free of bias, it's not model driven, and it's not collaborative. It's not, in short, scientific in any way. That's not to say that other methods of inquiry are without merit --the Harvard Business Review makes pretty darn good use of case studies, for example-- but way too often Collins's great truths seemed like square pegs crammed into round holes, because a round hole is what he wants. For example, there's no reported search for information that disconfirms his hypotheses. Are there other companies that don't make use of a Culture of Discipline (Chapter 6, natch) but yet are still great according to Collins's definition? Are there great companies that fail to do some of the things he says should make them great? The way that the book focuses strictly on pairs of great/comparison companies smacks of confirmatory information bias, which is a kink in the human mind that drives us to seek out and pay attention to information that confirms our pre-existing suppositions and ignore information that fails to support them.

Relatedly, a lot of the book's themes and platitudes strike me as owing their popularity to the same factors that make the horoscope or certain personality tests like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator so popular: they're so general and loosely defined that almost anyone can look at that and not only say that wow, that make sense, and I've always felt the same way! This guy and me? We're geniuses! The chapter about "getting the right people on the bus" that extols the virtue of hiring really super people is perhaps the most obvious example. Really, did anyone read this part and think "Oh, man. I've been hiring half retarded chimps. THAT'S my problem! I should hire GOOD people!" Probably not, and given that Collins doesn't go into any detail about HOW to do this or any of his other good to great pro tips, I'm not really sure where the value is supposed to be.

It also irked me that Good to Great seems to try and exist in a vacuum, failing to relate its findings to any other body of research except Collins's other book, Built to Last. The most egregious example of this is early on in Chapter 2 where Collins talks about his concept of "Level 5 Leadership," which characterizes those very special folks who perch atop a supposed leadership hierarchy. The author actually goes into some detail describing Level 5 leaders, but toward the end of the chapter he just shrugs his figurative shoulders and says "But we don't know how people get to be better leaders. Some people just are." Wait, what? People in fields like Industrial-Organizational Psychology and Organizational Development have been studying, scientifically, what great leaders do and how to do it for decades. We know TONS about how to become a better leader. There are entire industries built around it. You would think that somebody on the Good to Great research team may have done a cursory Google search on this.

So while Good to Great does have some interesting thoughts and a handful of amusing or even fascinating stories to tell about the companies it profiles (I liked, for example, learning about why Walgreens opens so many shops in the same area, even to the point of having stores across the street from each other in some cities), ultimately it strikes me as vague generalities and little to no practical information about how to actually DO anything to make your company great.
Profile Image for Riku Sayuj.
653 reviews7,022 followers
September 26, 2017
First and foremost, Good to Great has no breakthrough concepts to offer. Collins is good at inventive metaphors and catch phrases to push concepts through but ultimately there is really nothing counter-intuitive or revolutionary about the results of this study.

That said, the concepts in the book might still be valuable for managers, CEOs and other professionals. Here is a brief summary of the book and a short tour on how to take your company from Good to Great:

Think of this as a time-line to be followed:

First step is: To have A 'Level 5 Leader'

- A self-effacing leader. A humble leader with a strong drive and indefatigable will for perfection. Someone who puts the company over personal success and never clamors for the limelight.

Second Step is: To First decide the Who question and then the What Question.

- So have a Level 5 Leader.

- Who then picks a great management team - Collins uses the metaphor of finding the right people for the bus and the right seats for them before deciding where the bus is going to be heading towards.

Third Step is: To understand all the basic facts about the situation and the company

- So we have the ideal top management in place.

- Who in turn now brainstorms to figure out a goal/direction for the company after taking into account all the data available, whether good or bad.

Fourth Step is: To implement the 'Hedgehog Concept'

- So they confront all the realities and decide on a direction

- Which is based on the ability of the company, the passion of the people in it and money making ability of the goal.

- This is called using 'The Hedgehog Concept' and the 'Three Circles Concept'. You have to choose the very intersection of these three circles as your driving direction. You might have a lot of interests/passions, your company might have a lot of money-making options and you might have a lot of competencies - BUT, the point of intersection of all three should be your ONLY core focus.

[It is called Hedgehog Concept by contrasting hedgehogs to foxes - foxes are wily and know a lot of things, hedgehogs are wise and one thing well. It is the equivalent to the old proverb of 'jack-of-all-trades and master-of-none']


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Fifth Step is: To have Complete Faith and Honesty - Called the 'The Stockdale Paradox'

- Once you identify your defining goal using the Hedgehog Concept,

- Have complete and unwavering belief and faith in this audaciously ambitious goal (to be the best in the world in the direction/field chosen.

- At the same time maintain complete transparency and exposure to the brutal facts about the environment.

- Believe you will prevail, no matter what. Keeping faith in the goal even in the face of the direst contrary facts.

Sixth Step is: To instill a Culture of DIscipline in the organization

- Keep working very very hard with complete determination and without bravado towards overcoming those contrary facts and obstacles towards the singe goal/direction arrived at earlier.

Seventh Step and the Overarching Concept is: To Keep turning 'The Flywheel'

- Use the Culture of Discipline and Build Momentum with these little steps and successes and then take all caution to not upset the momentum by misguided side steps. - This is the Fly wheel concept.

Thus with Great Leadership, Great Understanding of Strengths & Weaknesses, Great Confidence, Great Focus, Great Determination and Great Discipline, consistently applied over 15-30 years makes for a great company.

The whole story can be summarized in this phrase: "Build up - Breakthrough - Flywheel!"


[image error]

This diagram also gives a visual summary of the entire book and can be used as a ready reference.


So, in conclusion, 'Good to Great' by Jim Collins has nothing new to offer but still provides us with a concrete 5-year study and a plausible reason to follow such common sensical things such as finding the right people, understanding what we can best at, believing in ourselves and working hard until success eventually turns up. It is an optimistic and feel-good result that just might be simple enough to be true.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
January 5, 2022
Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't, James C. Collins

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.

The book was published on October 16, 2001.

Greatness is defined as financial performance several multiples better than the market average over a sustained period. Using tough benchmarks, Collins and his research team identified a set of elite companies that made the leap to great results and sustained those results for at least fifteen years. How great?

After the leap, the good-to-great companies generated cumulative stock returns that beat the general stock market by an average of seven times in fifteen years, better than twice the results delivered by a composite index of the world's greatest companies, including Coca-Cola, Intel, General Electric, and Merck. Collins finds the main reason certain companies become great is they narrowly focus the company’s resources on their field of key competence.

عنوانهای چاپ شده رد ایران: «از خو�� به عالی»؛ «از عرش به فرش»؛ «انتخاب برتری»؛ «انتخاب عالی»، مترجم: عهدیه عبادی؛ «با انتخاب خود بزرگ شوید»؛ «با انتخاب خود مهم شوید» مترجم: متین عربلو؛ «بهتر از خوب»، مترجم: فضل الله امینی؛ «تعالی مبنی بر انتخاب صحیح»، مترجمها حسن زارعی ثمین، بهزاد محمدیان، مهدی شعله؛ نویسنده: جیم کالینز؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیستم ماه فوریه سال2006میلادی

عنوان: از خوب به عالی: چرا برخی از شرکتها جهش میکنند...؛ و سایرین نمیکنند؛ نویسنده: جیم کالینز؛ مترجم ناهید سپهرپور؛ تهران، پیک آوین، سال1383؛ در301ص؛ جدول، عکس، نمودار، شابک9648148031؛ چاپهای چهارم و پنجم سال1384؛ چاپهای هفتم و هشتم سال1386؛ چاپهای نهم و دهم سال1387؛ چاپ یازدهم سال1388؛ شابک9789648148039؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، آوین، سال1386؛ چاپ سیزدهم سال1389؛ چاپ هیجدهم سال1392؛ موضوع راهبری، برنامه ریزی راهبردی، تحول در سازمان، مدیریت، نوآوری - سده21م

عنوان: از خوب به عالی: چرا برخی شرکتها پیشرفت میکنند و برخی دیگر از پیشرفت باز میمانند؛ نویسنده: جیم کالینز؛ مترجم لیلا رضیئی؛ تهران، آرایان، سال1395؛ در336ص؛ شابک9786007133750؛

عنوان: از خوب به عالی: چرا برخی شرکتها جهش میکنند و بعضیهای دیگر نه؛ نویسنده: جیم کالینز؛ مترجم: صدیقه اشتری؛ تهران، هورمزد، سال1395؛ در350ص؛ شابک9786006959781؛

عنوان: از عرش به فرش: چگونه شرکت‌های قدرتمند سقوط می‌کنند؟ و چرا برخی از شرکت‌ها هرگز تسلیم نمی‌شوند؟؛ نویسنده: جیم کالینز؛ مترجم لیلا سالاری؛ تهران، هورمزد، سال1395؛ در270ص؛ شابک9786006958927؛

عنوان: انتخاب برتری، مترجم: عبدالرضا رضایی نژاد، تهران، فرا، سال1394، در202ص؛
و ...؛

خوب دشمن عالی است؛ این مهم‌ترین مفهومی است، که «جیم کالینز» نویسنده ی این کتاب کوشش دارد، خوانشگر را متوجه آن کند؛ آقای «کالینز» به همراه تیم پژوهشی خود، حرکت مجموعه‌ ای از شرکت‌ها را، در طول سی سال، بررسی کرده‌ اند، و به نتایجی رسیده‌ اند، که نشان می‌دهد «چرا تعدادی از شرکت‌ها از مرحله ی خوب رد می‌شوند، و به سطح عالی می‌رسند»؛ ما شرکت‌هایی رو می‌شناسیم، که خوب هستند؛ شرکت‌هایی در دوره‌ ای، رشد فزاینده‌ ای دارند، و دوباره افول می‌کنند؛ اما شرکت‌های عالی، که اتفاقا ممکن است نامشان، به اندازه شرکت‌های خوب، شناخته شده نباشد، هماره رشدی صعودی را تجربه می‌کنند، و ارزش سهام آنها، چندین برابر نرخ سهام بازار است؛ ...؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 05/12/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 14/10/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Chad Kettner.
41 reviews
February 13, 2013
Here are Jim Collins' seven characteristics of companies that went "from good to great"

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. Finding the right people and trying them out in different positions.

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 makes you money? What could you be best in the world at? and What lights your fire?

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.

I really enjoyed this book and think any business owner or entrepreneur would find the book interesting and benefit from focusing on the seven characteristics above - but I should also point out what I consider to be a few of the flaws with the book:

1. Collins spends a lot of time explaining some pretty common sense stuff. Don't let your ego get in the way of good decisions, don't have the wrong people in the wrong positions in your company, be realistic, etc...

2. Collins implies a causal relationship when there isn't enough data to determine such a thing, saying that they found x followed by y in all the great companies. And maybe x led to y, but maybe it didn't. We don't know. Without comparing other companies that either had x but didn't produce y, or produced y but didn't have x, we simply don't know if Collins' examples demonstrate lessons that can be repeated for the same success by anybody. It seems to me that there is a strong hindsight bias and a lot of uncertainty as to whether or not all 'good' companies would become 'great' by simply following Collins' advice.

3. As psychologists have pointed out in books such as "The Invisible Gorilla" and "Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow" - even aiming at "Good to Great" specifically - many business books tend to mistake a personal success story or numerous personal stories as a causal relationship that can be reproduced by anybody when in reality the more likely explanation was that they benefited from a lot of luck and there isn't a simple process of 'do x and you will receive y'.

4. 11 years after the book was published, the success rates of the "great" companies isn't so great. Were those companies not so great after all? What happened? What changed? At least half of the 11 great companies he identified are no longer doing so great. Circuit City is bankrupt, Fannie Mae went bankrupt/nationalized, Wells Fargo needed a bailout, Nucor's stock and revenue crashed, Pitney Bowes went down significantly, and Gillette is no longer independent. It seems strange that 'greatness' was so easily lost.

5. Also, a difficulty with his methodology is that he measured a company's 'greatness' by its sustained stock market value being a certain percentage (150%) above the general market. So how does a private company measure greatness with this sort of standard?
Profile Image for R.K. Gold.
Author 15 books10.1k followers
December 1, 2020
Why Indie Authors Should Read Business Books

I am finally pursuing my lifelong passion of becoming an author, and writing is a business, so I needed to invest in myself. I figured "the bible" of the business world would have some interesting things to say. After all, a business of one is still a business and who wouldn't enjoy the leap from mediocrity to longevity? The book made it clear that building a great business isn't just about a great leader who exits the company, only to have it fall apart. What makes a great business, and leader of the business, is someone who is able to build something that will last long after their lifetime.

That should resonate with authors. I don't know any authors that want their books to disappear without their presence? We have the benefit of creating products that at the very least will never go out of style. Innovations may change the way we read but they will never eliminate books altogether. What we write will last and it's our responsibility to build something from it so people actually give a damn about our work long after we are gone.

The lessons in this book teach a person how to develop a strategy, how to build a team, the importance of being disciplined, and the importance of managing expectations.

The Hedgehog Concept is something creatives should be able to maneuver to their advantage. It's all about finding what you can be best at, passionate about, and quantifying how to measure your success. For an author maybe that's finding a niche and having the discipline to stick with it rather than chasing the latest genre fad.

For building a team, again think about how many people it takes to make a book. You don't just write a draft and publish it on KDP. If you do, and are successful than I am jealous but most of us can't write perfection the first go around. You need beta readers to give you general feedback on what's working and what's not; you need an editor (or two) to make sure it's readable; you need a top-notch book cover (some authors can make their own, some need to add a graphic designer to their team) and finally you need to build your audience, because they're the most important part of the team.

Though there are a lot of lessons in this book the final thing I'm gonna touch on is the Stockdale Paradox. It's all about managing expectations. You can truly believe you are going to find success, while also managing that expectation. Stockdale was a POW in Vietnam who knew he would return home but kept his sanity because he knew it would be a while, while other soldiers in the camp were overly optimistic, thought they would get home by Christmas, only to be heartbroken when their expectations failed.

Pursuing a creative endeavor is still a business, and today it's never been easier for someone to enter that business It's my educated guess that it's in order for creatives to educate themselves on traditional business practices if they hope to sustain long-term growth and success in their field.
Profile Image for Emily.
699 reviews2,026 followers
February 8, 2019
Okay, let's get this out of the way first: this book is DATED. It studies eleven companies that beat the stock market over a period of fifteen years, irrespective of industry (other comparison companies in the same industries did not produce the same results). Unfortunately, these eleven companies include Fannie Mae, Circuit City, Wells Fargo, and Philip Morris (??!?). The findings are ultimately interesting and I think the writers would argue that the recent performance of the companies don't affect the findings' validity, but boy is it a trip to read about Wells Fargo as a paragon of excellence in the year 2019.

James Collins wrote this with a large group of researchers, and the methodology and results are explained in more detail in the extensive appendices at the end of the book. They distill their findings into seven key themes around what helps a company go from mediocre to truly "great," which they define as beating the stock market by a certain margin over a long period of time. I realize that I am reading a business book and by default there needs to be a core metric by which we recognize businesses as "good" or "great," but I had some trouble with the complete disregard for social impact that powers this book. Collins says that looking at employee or social welfare would have introduced biases into the study, but I would also say that there is an inherent bias in defining a business's "greatness" solely by its stock returns and shareholder value—which is why you end up with Philip Morris in your group of "great" companies. (Your definition for success is not the same as mine!) It's also interesting that the research group tends to handwave around employee motivation, morale, and fulfillment for all of the "great" companies as a natural outcome of business success, but does not offer any metrics or background on this in the text of the book.

All that aside, I found some of the takeaways truly interesting:

* Charisma is detrimental to leadership: The good-to-great companies all had "Level 5" leaders, which the research group defines as a leader who is incredibly driven but extremely humble. The Level 5 leaders aren't charismatic or larger-than-life figures: they center their companies on one purpose and build strong systems that move the entire company in one direction. The true tell of this type of leader is if the company survives and flourishes after they leave (are you more worried about your CEO, or about the reality of your situation?). Charismatic outside leaders produced consistently worse results and the companies stagnated after their departure. It's also worth noting that executive compensation had absolutely no measurable effect on a company's success.

* Managing morale and motivation is largely a waste of time: If employees instinctively understand the vision of the company and how they contribute to its success, there is no reason to "motivate" or spend time managing change. I don't think this is ever 100% true (and it is precluded by the necessity to have the right people in the right roles), but I found this perspective interesting and the examples rang true to me.

* Stay focused on your central concept: The book refers to this as the "Hedgehog Concept," a term that I refuse to use. It combines the Venn diagram of these three things: (1) what are you truly passionate about? (2) what drives your economic engine? and (3) what can you be best in the world at? If you aren't driving towards an intersection of all three, you will not be able to achieve sustained results. This requires a culture of discipline throughout all levels of the company.

* Understand the brutal reality: The successful companies understood the "brutal facts of reality" when making business decisions and candidly discussed and planned for that reality. That sometimes requires an entire business shift to align yourself with your central concept. (When you see user or customer research that upends your assumptions, do not ignore it.) This also reinforces the need for long-term investment. The writers' point was that you cannot be an optimist ("this will all work out!"), but you must confront reality and simultaneously strongly believe that you will succeed, despite the odds. You also must create an environment where the truth is heard, which requires the leaders to ask questions, hold themselves to high standards, and build red-flag mechanisms to get advance notice of issues.

Anyway, I found the book both interesting and frustrating to read. The research team commits the cardinal sin of all business books, which is comparing every single concept to a famous thinker. Einstein did not model simplistic thinking (has this man ever read a proof of E = mc2? get back to me after you have done it) and Abraham Lincoln is not comparable to a CEO. I wish that these types of comparisons could be completely excised from our discourse. I rolled my eyes through much of this nonsense and it really detracted from my engagement with the book.

I also found it frustrating that diversity of thought and teams never comes up in this book. Every single CEO mentioned is a man, and most of the named executives at these companies are men. You can read into the concept of "getting the right people on the bus" as assembling the correct team, but then the book goes on to say that employee incentives and compensation matter much less than you think they do. That depends on who you are hiring and what their personal priorities are, and that will always differ for individuals. I did like that part of the leadership discussion hinges on whether internal or external leadership is better for a company; most of the Level 5 leaders in the book are internal choices, which intuitively makes sense because they are able to fully grasp the core concept and values of the company.

Finally, it is hilarious to read sentences like "Amazon.com, the reigning champion of e-commerce" and "today, we primarily use portables from companies like Dell and Sony." 2001 was a wild time. 2019 is a wild time!! In the last 18 years, these good-to-great companies have imploded in on themselves!! Hopefully, the lessons from this book endure longer than Fannie Mae's reputation.
Profile Image for Praveen.
153 reviews281 followers
December 11, 2019
"People often ask, "what motivates you to undertake these huge research projects?"
It's a good question. The answer is "curiosity."
There is nothing I find more exciting than picking a question that I don't know the answer to and embarking on a quest for answers. It's deeply satisfying to climb into the boat, like Lewis and Clark, and head west, saying," We don't know what we will find when we get there, but we'll be sure to let you know when we get back."

This undaunted curiosity is the stimulus of this work, proclaims the author, in the beginning, justifying why he got down to such a grueling task. Though this book is exclusively for the management students and for the corporate guys, I still feel, this book is very well researched and can be read by them also, who have the least interests in companies and businesses. This book is a result of the hard toil of a large research team of Jim Collins after 'Built to Last'.If you read it, you will find the reason why millions of copies have been sold of this. Wall Street Journal's CEO council declared it the best management book they have read.

This book is all about why some companies leap from 'good to great' and others don't!
The first thing it tries to preach is that Good is the enemy of great.Few people attain greatness, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life. Next, the book talks about a kind of 'Level 5 leadership',

"leaders of a paradoxical mix of personal humility and professional will.they are fanatically driven, infected with an incurable need to produce sustainable results. they display workmanlike diligence, more plow horse than show horse. they look out of a window to attribute success to factors other than themselves."

In the subsequent chapters, comes the idea of choosing the right guys. It's important first getting the right people on the bus (and wrong people off the bus) and then figure out where to drive it.
Then there is a 'Stockdale Paradox' in this book, which is equally applicable in any field of life.

"Retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties.....And at the same time ......Confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be."

There are many other concepts outlined in this book, they look technical, so much business involved in them, but they are quite handy even to the simpler minds, quite comprehensible even to those ordinary mortals like me. The research done for this book may have taken a huge amount of resources, time and energy, but as a consequence, the major findings and learnings of this project are rather uncomplicated. The key elements of greatness are deceptively simple and straightforward. I feel this book is a wonderful exhibition of undemanding intelligence encrusted with due diligence.

In the end, Even if you think in contrast. If you think you are already gratified to the goodness around you and think after reading the title of this book.....Why greatness? I don't need that!
Then the book has an answer for you as well. It says it's almost a nonsense question. If you are engaged in a work that you love and care about, for whatever reason, then the question needs no answer.

The question is not why, but how!
Profile Image for Trevor.
1,294 reviews21.7k followers
August 5, 2017
I’ve been reading quite a few books about leadership lately – I can't really say that I’ve been terribly impressed with them. They read too much like that terribly American genre of books – the self-help book. Invariably, they seem to have appeared fully formed out of the research of the people behind the book itself. This is particularly amusing here, since people have been concerned with the nature of leadership pretty much forever. The other thing that I find a little odd about these books is that leadership is rarely defined in them. I guess we are supposed to take the attitude that it might well be hard to say what leadership is, but we all know it when we see it – so, leadership is a bit like pornography in that sense. Given that this form of research sees itself as so ‘revolutionary’ in just about all senses, it ought to say things, you would expect, that would be more than just a series of platitudes. I didn’t really come away thinking that sense, however. Parts of this were okay – but I really didn’t come away, as the author clearly thought I ought to have, thinking that they had gone off into the great unknown and returned more or less unharmed to tell the story. If I hadn’t been reading this book for a reason, I would have stopped when the author compared himself to Lewis and Clark (and he did so without a hint of irony).

This book is concerned with finding the attributes that companies have that start out average only to then move on to being exceptional. They have defined exceptional companies as those that perform at three times the market for 15 years – this is quite a good definition of exceptional, I guess. But, some of the companies have not done quite so well since this was written (not sure how many people would write a book today about the glories of Freddie Mac today, just saying) – the GFC clearly wasn’t all that kind to some companies and whether or not ‘leadership’ was the only factor at play here is an interesting question in itself, although, given the success of these firms is tied to leadership in this book, presumably failure is also to be considered a leadership issue – still, this is all beyond the psycho-babble of this kind of book. Oh, I’m jumping ahead too quickly – but that, in a nutshell, is probably one of my main concerns with books like this – organisations are essentially collections of people engaged in complex interactions, and so psychology (that is, a science focused on the individual) is quite likely to miss the point. The limits of psychology in coming to terms with human interactions beyond the individual - is, again, an interesting question and one that is not addressed here at all. And this is hardly surprising, since a book that focuses our attention on how 'leadership' accounts for a businesses success is hardly going to move too far beyond 'psychology'.

The book finds that these companies all shared seven characteristics. The first of these was perhaps the one I found most interesting – that is, that their leaders all tended to be ‘anti-Trump’ type people. That is, they were all people who were much more interested in the success of the company, rather than in their own personal success and aggrandisement - they tended to be humble, they tended to be focused on their love of whatever it was they were doing, rather than on having people tell them how fantastic they are. As such, these people often remained unsung despite the exceptional achievements they made. This often meant that they had a singleness of purpose that might not be as apparent in people who want success for its own sake. They also remained unsung for their success since they generally did not attribute their success to their own actions as much as other leaders (again, think Trump) might. They understood the luck and contingency involved in success and this fed into their own humility. Having a personal preference for humble people myself – the Japanese PM’s wife who sat beside Trump for 2 hours and did not let him know she spoke English is currently one of my heroes – it is nice that some management types think that such a personality trait is worthwhile. Like I said, this was a finding I was somewhat surprised to find in a book like this.

Perhaps the major benefit of such self-effacing people is that they understand that they are unlikely to be successful purely on their own. Therefore they are much more like to also see that it is essential that they surround themselves with people who are going to be good at what they do and that are, potentially, a bit like them in their dedication to the task at hand. In this book this idea is summed up by the idea of these leaders making sure they have the right people in the right place. There is lots of talk about buses thought out this book - basically, these books seem to be mostly about milking a particular metaphor or series of metaphors to death - getting people onto the bus, off the bus and in the right place on the bus being but one of those metaphors worked to death in this book. The author repeatedly says that getting the right people is more important than necessarily getting people who know what it is they are doing - the right people basically being able to learn whatever it is that is necessary for them to do and anyway, since all leadership is essentially change management, getting people who are able to learn and change is the key. Here is the notion that leadership is a particular set of skills that can be applied anywhere and is always just as effective. This exaggerated version of the story isn’t entirely the case, even for this author, but the differences that make a difference are never so much around the types of work expected, but rather the ‘values’ of the company and in getting employees who will live up to those. Finding people who share the company’s values is central to getting the right people.

We need to talk about hindsight bias. When a company is successful it is pretty likely that it is successful because all the bits of the company work well together. If some bits of the company are actively working to undermine other bits of the company it would seem pretty likely that the company as a whole isn’t going to be successful. So, saying that very successful companies are made up of parts that work well together and that the people leading those parts are team players all seems a bit obvious to me. Perhaps saying ‘they are the right people in the right jobs’ is saying something important - but it isn’t at all clear to me how you would know beforehand.

Given that everyone is an expert in hindsight, it wasn’t all that clear to me how you might go about picking the ‘right people’ - and it also seemed pretty obvious that when things stuffed up, inevitably, you could argue that it was because you had inadvertently chosen the ‘wrong’ people. The other problem I have with this idea is one I also had with Taylorism and scientific management, which also has a long section on getting the ‘right people’ - that is, that too often leaders simply don’t have the luxury of being able to make those choices and of backing out of choices once it becomes clear the wrong one has been made. To me, a great leader would be one who can succeed with what they have, rather than having to create the perfect environment first. But I’m not exactly a great world leader, so, what would I know?

This problem of hindsight comes up again in the next attribute - great leaders face the brutal facts of the situation they find themselves in and are unflinching in how they stare into this particular abyss. It isn’t clear to me how you might navigate a changing environment - something all of these ‘great leaders’ here invariably did - without doing something that could be called ‘coming to terms with the brutal facts of your situation’. Look, I do understand that perhaps my shares in Hansom Cabs are never going to reach the dizzying heights they achieved in the 1870s, but I’m not sure just what ‘brutally’ facing reality means - other than it being something you will inevitably say you have done when any changes you make pay off.

I have another problem with this - and that relates to the basic positivist underlying assumptions of such theories. That is, the idea that there is essentially one ‘truth’ and even though it ‘likes to hide’, if you pursue it with objectivity and determination you will certainly find it. I feel the world is much more messy than that and that while you can say that if you don’t pay any attention to the world around you then things are likely to stuff up pretty badly, you are always operating with incomplete data (something they even say at one point) and so being told to face what that data tells you with unflinching determination is either not telling us very much or possibly not even telling us anything at all.

The next metaphor that gets a long run is the fox and the hedgehog. Basically, this comes from some philosopher who said there are two kinds of people (and, unfortunately didn’t go on to say, those who group people into two camps and those who don’t) - rather he felt the two groups were those who are like foxes: smart, resourceful, cunning and innovative - and those like hedgehogs, with basically one trick - to roll into a ball.

This guy is particularly fond of hedgehogs. He advises companies to figure out their hedgehog concept is - that is, the basic idea they have that might allow them to become best in the world at, the idea that makes them their money, and that drives their passion (you know, just like a hedgehog is passionate about rolling into a ball) and then to make sure everything they do as a company is focused on that hedgehog concept. My problem here is that while the author has problems with foxes, it isn’t clear to me that the fox has been evolutionarily less successful than the hedgehog. In fact, the author spends quite a bit of time talking about General Electric and, well, fitting this company into the hedgehog idea seemed a bit of ‘square peg and round hole’ problem to me.

That said, it is hard to see how ‘figure out what you are good at and do that’ could be bad advice. I can’t say I came away from this book thinking, ‘wow, who’d have thought you should do what you are good at if you want to succeed?’

There was a nice bit of this book about technology - that it, on its own, doesn’t lead to greatness, although it always plays a role. Pretty much the advice here is to work out what you need to do to be great and then figure out how technology might help you achieve that, rather than hope putting wiz-bang technology into your systems will somehow make them good systems. This seems completely obvious to me as well, however.

As you might already know, I generally don’t read books like this, but I’ve had to as I’m doing research on Teach for Australia and they stress that teaching is leadership - and use this book to support that claim. So, I was expecting this book to be something quite different to what it turned out to be - I was expecting it to be something much more, to be honest. It is hard to be in your 50’s and have decades of working with people who have been keen to implement the kinds of ideas discussed in this book upon people in their organisations, without being somewhat cynical about such visions splendid such leadership revolutionaries present. I can’t recommend this book, but it was important that I read it, I think.
Profile Image for Sandy.
151 reviews20 followers
January 27, 2010
I hope I don't get fired for not thinking this was the greatest book ever. Honestly, business books are not exactly my cup of tea. This book started off really interesting. The author talks about habits that great companies use to keep their companies run smoothly. Many of the suggestions the author gives seem very logical -- don't have negative people work for your company, don't try to put your hand in every pot, don't stop doing things that work well and do stop doing things that aren't working, etc.

I had two major concerns with this book. First was simply the manner in which it was written. The author spent hundreds of pages explaining what could have been explained much more succinctly. It's similar to my thesis. My completed thesis was 60+ pages, but the article I wrote to be published in a journal (which consists of the same material, more or less) was only about 15 pages. I would be more interested in this book if it was written in "journal" form, allowing me to cut out the redundancy. To the author's credit, however, I appreciated that he did give examples, as often I was very confused by his explanation of the concept, and wouldn't have understood without his providing an example they found in one of the companies.

My second major concern was the methodology. The author utilizes no scientific method for gathering data, but instead utilizes a "panning for gold" approach: throw everything into the pot and see what comes out. That, combined with overwhelming hindsight bias, makes me extremely suspicious of any and every conclusion drawn in the book. While reading this book, I was reminded of one of my undergraduate teachers explaining the advantage that Freud had as an early psychologist: because of his theories, he could not be proven wrong. How do you prove that someone isn't in denial? How do you prove that someone isn't obsessed with his mother? Likewise, how do you prove that these theories proposed by Jim Collins actually work? Indeed, Collins later predicts, at the end of his book, that any company that STOPS abiding by the principles he outlines will fail. With his "interesting" methodology, I doubt that his principles would have a causal link to either success or failure. I expect that many companies fail, and that many companies are very successful, without regard to his theories. In addition, a problem with his methodology is that he measured "greatness" by a company's sustained stock market value being a certain percentage (150%) above the general market--what about private companies? How can a private company measure greatness if that is the standard?

So, overall, I enjoyed this book at the beginning and became bored with it by the end. I think there are some good principles that can be pulled out of it, but I fear that some companies will take this book too much to heart and let other important factors slip.

Rob, please don't fire me. :)
Profile Image for C.
1,101 reviews1,047 followers
September 9, 2021
I was hoping this book would give me some guidelines to remember when I start my own business. There were a few good points, but nothing compelling. Reading this book wasn't a very good use of my time.

Tips from the book:

First Who, then What
First, get the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off it), then figure out where to drive. Having the right people in the company is more important than deciding what the company will do, because the right people will help make that decision anyway. Whether a person is "right" or not depends on their character more than their knowledge and skills. Don't waste time dealing with people who aren't contributing; fire them ASAP.

Don't waste effort trying to motivate people; the right people are self-motivated. All you have to do is keep from de-motivating them.

The Hedgehog Concept
To become great, use the Hedgehog Concept: concentrate on the point of intersection between what you are passionate about, what you can be the best in the world at, and what drives your economic engine. The Hedgehog Concept is named for the simple hedgehog that does one thing well (curling up for defense), and is able to defeat the crafty fox which knows many things but acts inconsistently.

A Culture of Discipline
Ignore "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunities unless they fit in the 3 circles of the Hedgehog Concept.

Don't treat budgeting as allocating amounts of money to activities, but choose Hedgehog Concept activities to fully fund, and don't fund others. "Stop doing" lists are more important than "to do" lists.

Technology Accelerators
Does the technology fit directly with your Hedgehog Concept? If yes, then pioneer that technology. If not, settle for parity with your competitors, or ignore it.

Greatness happens as a result of long-term, consistent behavior, not a sudden lucky break or killer app.
98 reviews43 followers
November 21, 2014
A five year research study dedicated to analyzing the results of its own sampling bias without realizing it and puffed up with so much unnecessary fluff that the essence of the book could have been distilled on the front cover in a few bullet points under the title and it would have probably still been considered a waste of time to read.
Profile Image for Allen.
81 reviews
December 22, 2011
Just (12/21/2011) re-read the book and love the concepts. But I knocked a star off of my rating since during this re-read I felt like the author puffed up the findings and, indirectly, himself. Sure, good-to-great principles seem to be true, insightful, and necessary for a transformation. I even found that re-reading this book helped me to realize I was being quite undisciplined in my use of time (trying to create momentum by doing, doing, doing instead of "unplugging extraneous junk.") But I don't think Collins has found the gospel and he plays it up to that level.

I started reading it and then gave it to my boss. I'm currently listening to the audio book but I would like to own a hardcover copy. (2007)

The concept that has struck me as most applicable (so far), particularly with respect to businesses, is the need to get the right people on the team first and in the right positions, then decide what to do. Managers should not waste time and energy motivating people to excellence. Instead, they should give self-motivating people a vision they can support and work hard to bring to realization. Fewer great people on the team are better than lots of mediocre people. The mediocre people just make extra work for the great people and the net result is "good". It's easier to be great than good.

Another interesting concept I've been told about, but haven't read about yet, is the flywheel. Progress is made by implementing small changes at opportune times. Momentum is gained slowly and steadily by these small, periodic decisions. The image used by Collins is that of a flywheel with lots of inertia. Each little push eases the flywheel ahead. The wheel starts rotating slowly but as little pushes continue to be made, the wheel picks up momentum and is hard to stop. This concept is seen in the growth that companies like Google have experienced. Google started out as just a slightly better search engine. Small changes at opportune times have turned it into the booming multi-service company that it is today
Profile Image for Steve.
251 reviews875 followers
August 4, 2009
I have no idea how much Jim Collins knows about business / management, but it is clear he’s mastered the art of writing a popular business / management book. The way I see it, the steps involved are:

* State up front what the themes are, but disguise at least a few of them with cryptic labels that portend greater meaning to those who venture further. Who wouldn’t read on when enticed by the promise of the lowly hedgehog’s secret for success or how Admiral Stockdale’s paradoxical key to survival as a P.O.W. can be applied for corporate gain?

* Supply lots of lists, charts, and visuals. Venn diagrams are especially good, it seems. The confluence of 3 good traits at the virtuous center constitutes a synergized sweet spot for those clever enough to recognize it.

* Make common sense bromides sound less trite. You can’t just say, “Hire good people.” It’s better to say you have to get the right people on the bus, and further, that the right people have to be in the right seats. The bus connotes movement, you see; progress towards a common goal. Choosing the perfect metaphor is part of what separates the business-writing cream from the chaff.

* Common sense is good, but for variety, a few counterintuitive insights should be included, too. These can give the savvy reader an extra edge. Even the cagiest adversaries (among those outside the circle of 3 million purchasers privy to the book’s ironic findings) would not figure out such things as the importance of humility among top-tier leaders or that “stop doing” lists are more important than “to do” lists.

* Bulletize. Summarize. Rinse. Repeat.

As I get off my weisenheiming horse for a minute, there probably are some useful concepts here. This was assigned reading in the office, and it does seem to have improved management focus. Plus, we’ve now established a common language regarding the basic tenets (even if certain phrases are said with a smirk--hedgehogs on buses entering the flywheel will know what I’m talking about). I’m no expert, but it’s probably good for its type.

What I can’t decide is whether the book’s research methodology was effective or not. The basic idea was to construct a sample of consistent outperformers and another sample of peers that at one time looked similar, but ultimately languished. The researchers then asked what traits separated the two samples. I sympathize with how nebulous the differentiating factors would be. There’s an inherent squishiness to them, and judgment could cloud the data. It’s a difficult task. At the same time I think it’s fair to criticize the method for its backward-looking nature. In trying to discern cause and effect, something more along the lines of a lab, where various differences could be tested against a control group before knowing the outcomes, would carry more weight. I’m always a little suspicious of studies like this. If, for instance, the true driver of success was simply a fortuitous set of circumstances (right place, right time, right regulations, right trend) then it may appear, after the fact, that it was the right people in the right seats on the bus. I’m told Malcolm Gladwell’s new book gives luck the prominence it deserves.
Profile Image for Shane Parrish.
Author 4 books35.4k followers
July 13, 2020
I love this short lesson from Jim Collin's Good to Great:

"Put your best people on your biggest opportunities, not your biggest problems."
Profile Image for Nguyên ngộ ngộ.
197 reviews211 followers
September 11, 2015
Những con số biết nói khá thú vị
6000 bài báo
2000 trang phỏng vấn
15.000 giờ làm việc
21 nhà nghiên cứu làm việc suốt 5 năm
1435 công ty được chọn từ danh sách Fortune 500
28 công ty được chắt lọc.
11 công ty nhảy vọt
11 công ty cạnh tranh trực tiếp
6 công ty ngắn ngày

Cuối cùng là, ra đời 1 cuốn sách: TỪ TỐT ĐẾN VĨ ĐẠI.

Quyển sách đã gút chốt được 6 yếu tố chung nhất của một công ty từ tốt đến vĩ đại
(1) Nhà lãnh đạo cấp độ 5
Tính cách đặc trưng kiểu dạng như thầy Giảng Tư Trung, Bác Hồ. Với phong thái điềm tĩnh, khiêm nhường song ẩn chứa bên trong là một quyết tâm mạnh mẽ.
Trái ngược với lại hình ảnh những nhà lãnh đạo "lớn tiếng" như Hitler, những người luôn to mồm về những thứ mình làm.
Những nhà lãnh đạo cấp 5 có 2 đứng tính song song: KHIÊN NHƯỜNG và Ý CHÍ. Thể hiện qua 2 hình ảnh là CỬA SỔ và GƯƠNG.
Khi họ có thành tích dẫn dắt công ty lên vĩ đại, họ cho mọi thứ qua cửa sổ: ồ, tôi may mắn làm việc với những đồng nghiệp tuyệt vời. Chúng tôi nhờ có những cơ hội tốt nên mới như thế.... nhà lãnh đạo cấp 5 dùng WE, không vỗ ngực xưng I.
Song khi gặp thất bại ê chề, họ SOI GƯƠNG và nhận lỗi về mình, lúc này họ dùng I, ko đỗ lỗi, trách móc, mà I'm responsiblity for our mistakes.

(2) Con người đi trước - công việc theo sau
Điều quan trọng là chọn đúng người lên xe, mời người ko phù hợp xuống xe, đặt đúng người phù hợp vào đúng vị trí, rồi tiếp đó mới đến NÀO CHÚNG TA ĐI ĐÂU ĐÂY. Khi đã có người phù hợp rồi mới quyết định hướng đi, chiến lược.
(3) Đối mặt sự thật phũ phàng
Nghịch lý Stockdale: tin tưởng mãnh liệt vào một kết quả tương lai tươi sáng NHƯNG ĐỒNG THỜI phải đối diện với thực tại u ám. Thế mới ghê, đối diện với u ám mà còn dám tin vào tươi sáng.
Lạc quan mà không dám đối diện với sự thật, đó chỉ là lạc quan TẾU. Lạc quan ảo tưởng, và nó sẽ giết chết lần lần sự hy vọng của chúng ta.
(4) Khái niệm con nhím
Khái niệm con nhím là điểm mấu chốt để từ tốt lên vĩ đại. Nó là Tâm chấn của 3 vòng tròn
- Đam mê cái gì: bóng đá, ca hát, diễn xuất, chữa bệnh, lắp ráp, xây dựng...
- Giỏi cái gì nhất: học toán cao điểm nhất không chắc sẽ trở thành nhà toán học giỏi nhất. Có thể giỏi kinh doanh, giỏi giao tiếp, giỏi truyền thông...
- mẫu số chung lợi nhuận: lợi nhuận trên x. Cái này cầu sự am hiểu thấu đáo công ty
Kết hợp 3 cái này lại, giữ cho mình SỰ KỶ LUẬT, SỰ HƯỚNG TÂM và tâm chấn của 3 vòng tròn này
Mất thời gian khá lâu và có sự am hiểu thấu đáo về công ty mới có thể tạo ra một CON NHÍM phù hợp. Có công ty mất 3 năm, 5 năm, thậm chí là 10 năm. Einstein mất 15 năm đi trong sương mù để tìm ra thuyết tương đối mặc dù ông rất thông minh.

Câu hỏi đặt ra là làm thế nào tìm ra "con nhím" của mình.
Đó là một vòng lặp. Chọn ra một "hội" từ 5-12 chú, có ảnh hưởng trong công ty, thường là nhóm điều hành, và bắt đầu thực hiện
(1) Đặt câu hỏi Đúng dựa trên ba vòng tròn
(2) Tranh luận dựa trên các câu hỏi
(3) Quyết định của nhà điều hành dựa trên 3 vòng tròn
(4) Phân tích và xem xét, học hỏi lại
và thực hiện lại vòng lặp: lặp đi lặp lại theo thời gian, về những vấn đề sống còn và mang tính quyết định mà công ty phải đối mặt.

(5) Văn hóa kỷ luật
Nhớ phần này 1 câu duy nhất: đừng cố gắng truyền động lực cho nhân viên, cứ tìm đúng người có tinh thần kỷ luật, rồi sau đó làm sao đừng để nó mất động lực. Câu hỏi ở đây là làm sao đừng để nhân viên mất động lực chứ ko phải là làm sao để truyền động lực cho nhân viên.
Cảm thấy văn hóa này có tính tự giác, chủ động rất cao, nên việc chọn người phù hợp ngay từ đầu rất quan trọng.
Cho nên, văn hóa kỷ luật từ những người đã có tinh thần kỷ luật. Kỷ luật ở đây không phải là chuyên chế nói 1 làm 1, mà là tự do trong một khuôn khổ, tự do dám nghĩ dám nói dám làm, song trong khuôn khổ 3 con nhím. Họ kỷ luật chỉ làm những việc hướng tâm vào 3 con nhím, chứ không phải là để thỏa mãn cái tôi cao sang quý phái của mình.
Cái khó của sự kỷ luật ở đây là đối diện thực tế để thấu hiểu mình, biết mình nên "ngừng" việc gì, tiếp tục gì, và đặc biệt là biết "từ chối" cơ hội nào.

(6) Bàn đạp công nghệ
Nhìn nhận công nghệ hoàn toàn khác, tôi tiên phong về công nghệ, nhưng phải hướng tâm vào "chiến lược con nhím". Công nghệ ko đi cùng con nhím là héo.
Ví dụ bùng nổ Internet, các ông bán offline rần rần run sợ các shop online sẽ có lợi thế và ăn hết khách hàng mình. Ở đây shop online ko tiên phong về internet, nhưng họ tiên phong sử dụng internet để đặt hàng online, tiên phong sử dụng internet chăm sóc khách hàng. Công nghệ dưới góc nhìn của các công ty nhảy vọt là như thế.
......và nhảy vọt hoặc lụi tàn......
Ý thức rằng "miệt mài quay tay, vận may sẽ đến". Con gà con nó miệt mài tích lũy công lực lớn lên để rồi phá vỡ quá trứng và nhoi ra. Không có sự nhảy vọt sét đánh nào cả, nó là quá trình "miệt mài quay tay, vận may sẽ đến".

5 sao!

Profile Image for Dan W.
22 reviews
May 4, 2012
There is a valuable lesson in this book:

- Books are printed to make someone else money.

With this singular lesson in mind you can now unlock the secrets of all business and marketing books: the lesson isn't printed on the page, it's between the lines. This book sought, as all 'business' books do, to titillate you with facts, get you revved about the possibilities in your life to acquire great and fabulous riches through the magic of 'excellence' and set you loose into the world with your hair on fire and your eyes ablaze with new possibilities.

But there is no lesson taught. Euphemisms and equations all without constants or definition fill the pages. And that's the magic: You make your own definition for these catch phrases: On the Bus, Build your Council, etc. etc. Like any great allegory, or pop song, or religious verse, you assign your own meaning and off you go.

If there's an upside to all this I think it's in the true power of a 'business' book; It energizes a group of people to do what they already know how to do and want to do. If enough people in the organization read the book and buy into this zeal then change, for better or worse, can happen. But don't expect to actually learn anything more than a bit of business history from this title. The stories are true, but there's no business lesson here that you don't already know.

So, are you ready to buy in?

Profile Image for Yevgeniy Brikman.
Author 3 books602 followers
November 17, 2018
The good: interesting research, useful advice, great writing.
The not so good: the findings are not nearly as scientific, timeless, or widely applicable as the book claims.

The idea behind this book is that Collins and his team researched a large number of public companies, came up with a list of 11 that made a jump from "good performance" to "great performance" (i.e., significantly out-performed the market) over a sustained period of time, compared those 11 companies with 17 similar companies that never made the jump to "great" (or made the jump but couldn't sustain it), and based on this comparison, came up with a list of 7 "timeless principles" that it takes to go from good to great. Those 7 principles are:

1. Level 5 Leadership: Leaders who are humble, but driven to do what's best for the company. This concept reminded of the type of leader described in the book, "The Captain Class." That is, good leadership is not about charisma, but about "carrying the water."

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). One interesting tidbit I found was that bigger compensation does NOT incentivize better performance (similar to what is argued in the book "Drive"). Instead, compensation is there to get the right people on the bus—that is, the key point of compensation is to hire and retain talent.

3. Confront the Brutal Facts: The Stockdale paradox—Confront the brutal truth of the situation, yet at the same time, never give up hope. I especially liked the idea of turn information into "information you can’t ignore." For example, don't just do surveys of how customers feel about the product; instead, let a customer decide how much to pay for your product (or not pay at all!) based on how happy they are. That is information you won't be able to ignore!

4. Hedgehog Concept: Three overlapping circles: What lights your fire ("passion")? What could you be best in the world at ("best at")—and what can you not be the best in the world at? What makes you money ("driving resource")?

5. Culture of Discipline: Rinsing the cottage cheese. The idea is not to be a strict, harsh ruler, but to offer employees "freedom and responsibility within a framework." That is, you should hire self-disciplined people who don’t need to be managed and instead, focus all your time on managing the system.

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. Alignment and motivation follows from results—not the other way around. So don't bother spending time on team building exercises or trying to motivate people; instead, manage the system, get results, and that will get the team to bond and be motivated.

While I agree with many of these principles, I don't find the research convincing that (a) it is precisely these characteristics that are necessary to go from good to great or (b) that even if these are the right characteristics, that they apply to the vast majority of companies.

For one thing, the sample size—just 11 companies out of the millions that are out there—is way too small. Maybe it's because I just finished reading "Fooled by Randomness," but 11 wild successes out of a pool of millions strikes me as far more likely to be due to luck (and path dependence!) than strategy. The book tries to reduce the effect of luck by picking a long time timeline (15+ years), but if we had millions of monkeys picking stocks completely at random for a 15 year period, at the end of that period, it would not surprise me if a small number of those monkeys (say, 11) were wildly successful, simply through dumb luck. If this book had identified principles that were present in thousands of companies that were successful and absent in thousands of companies that failed, the argument might have been more convincing, but as it is, I have to more or less dismiss the book's claims that their results are "scientific" (and that's without even getting into the causation vs correlation debate!).

Lending more evidence to this argument of randomness is that the 11 "great" companies are not all paragons of success nowadays:

- Circuit City: filed for bankruptcy in 2008
- Fannie Mae: the book touts their "creative" mortgage practices which, as it turns out, played a major role in the 2008 mortgage crisis
- Gillette: touted as an example of refusing acquisition, but was then acquired by Procter & Gamble in 2005
- Philip Morris: I have no desire to follow practices from cigarette companies
- Wells Fargo: touted as a shining example of great leadership, but lawsuits have revealed a vast array of illegal practices, including massive account fraud in 2016 that implicated the CEO.

So nearly half of the 11 companies this book is based on are questionable, at best. Collins takes this issue heads on, saying that if some of the 11 companies struggle after the book is published, it just means that they are no longer following the 7 timeless principles. But to me, this is just a tautological "No true Scotsman" argument.

Finally, perhaps what bothers me most is that these 7 timeless principles come from research of gigantic public companies. I understand the book focuses on public companies because there's far more data available on public companies than private, but I'm not convinced that the findings from a handful of gigantic, publicly-traded corporations can be applied to 99.9% of business out there, and even less convinced by the book's argument that these learnings apply to other types of organizations too (e.g., churches, sports teams, etc).

Having said all that, I still think the 7 principles _are_ useful. The team that wrote this book is smart, talked with a lot of successful companies, and did find some useful insights. But the key thing to understand is that what they found are *tools*, not underlying principles. These are not laws of physics that have explanatory or predictive power, but merely observations of a few techniques that can be useful when trying to build a great company. If you think of this book as something to add to your toolbelt, you can get something useful out of it. If you think of it as a bible of how to build a great company, you may be disappointed.

As always, I've saved some of my favorite quotes:

“Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don't have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don't have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.”

“The purpose of bureaucracy is to compensate for incompetence and lack of discipline.”

“You can accomplish anything in life, provided that you do not mind who gets the credit. —HARRY S. TRUMAN”

“It is no harder to build something great than to build something good. It might be statistically more rare, it but does not require more suffering than perpetuating mediocrity. It involves less suffering, and perhaps even less work.” <--- I especially like this. Building something great does not require more suffering, but is vastly more satisfying.
Profile Image for فادي.
521 reviews846 followers
January 5, 2019
هذا من الكتب الرائعة التي توضح لك بعيداً عن الدجل والوهم والخرافة كيف تنجح الشركات الكبرى وتتحول إلى شركات عظيمة
عبر 9 فصول مميزة يأخذنا الكاتب وفريقه البحثي ومن خلال دراسة معمقة لأكثر من 1453 شركة عالمية مشهورة وغير مشهورة ثم تصفية الرقم إلى 11 شركة عالمية تنطبق عليها المعايير الخاصة التي قررها مع فريقه البحثي ليعرف الأسباب التي حدت بالشركات كي تتحول إلى شركات عظيمة
من خلال 6 قواعد أساسية تتخللها 3 منظومات رئيسية وهي
1- الأشخاص المنضبطون
2- الفكر المنضبط
3- التنفيذ المنضبط
أما القواعد فهي:
1- مستوى القيادة 5
2- من أولاً ثم ماذا
3- واجه الحقائق القاسية
4- مفهوم القنفذ
5- ثقافة الانضباط
6- مسرّعات التكنولوجيا
قد تظنّ أنّ الكتاب موجه للشركات فقط لكن لو أنعمتَ النظر في تفاصيل هذه القواعد لوجدتها تنطبق أيضاً على الأفراد أيضاً.
إذا كنت ملولاً ولا طاقة لك بقراءة الكتاب كلّه فأرجو منك قراءة الفصل الرابع فقط [ مفهوم القنفذ ] فهو من أجمل فصول الكتاب

أعجبني في الكتاب أنّه جهد بحثي مشترك بين المؤلف ومعاونيه وقائم على الأسئلة المباشرة للشركات والحوار معهم وليس مجرّد سرد تاريخي لنجاحهم.
من العبارات التي أثرت بي قوله إنّ الناظر لنجاح الشركاات من الخارج يظنّ أنّ الأمر تم بضربة حظ أو تحوّل لحظي لكن الأمر من الداخل تمّ عبر سلسلة طويلة من التعب والتخطيط والبذل
فلا وجود لشيء اسمه "نجاح مفاجئ "
بل هو أقرب للوهم

يا إتش آرات العالم.. اقرؤوه
13 reviews
August 25, 2007
OK, so I'm making my way through this book... painfully, slowly, pyromaniacly.... and, I do have to say it is FANTASTIC if you find yourself surrounded by people without common sense. Of course, I don't have a business degree... oh, wait, I'm not supposed to have common sense.

Anyways, now that I've trailed off into ADD tangents, my boss gave me this book to read and I do like the principles. I have one thing to say: way better than the teaching books I used to have to read. GEESH!
Profile Image for Laura Noggle.
677 reviews388 followers
January 28, 2018
2 ⭐️'s: Read the chapter list, that may be all you need.

General run-of-the-mill business book full of generic platitudes, and slightly annoying catch phrases (hello Hedgehog, Flywheel, and BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)). Vague themes seem intended for mass appeal, as opposed to providing any practical advice.

To save you time, here are the chapters:

1) Good is the Enemy of Great
2) Level 5 Leadership
3) First Who, Then What
4) Confront the Brutal Facts (Yet Never Lose Faith)
5) The Hedgehog Concept (Simplicity Within the Three Circles)
6) A Culture of Discipline
7) Technology Accelerators
8) The Flywheel and the Doom Loop
9) From Good to Great to Built to Last

Maybe if this is one of the first business books you've ever read it will hold more water. If you've read even a handful, you'll find nothing new here. Much of the book deals with common sense and well known facts, put into cutesy sayings. For example:

"The executives who ignited the transformations from good to great did not first figure out where to drive the bus and then get people to take it there.

No, they first got the right people on the bus—and the wrong people off the bus—and then figured out where to drive it."

The right people will be self motivated? It takes the right people to be great? Thank you for the insight! Facts are better than dreams? I never realized!

Technology can help a business be great, but it is only an accelerant, not a creator of momentum. "Thoughtless reliance on technology is a liability, not an asset." "Good to great companies continually refine the path to greatness with the brutal facts of reality." "There is nothing wrong with pursuing a vision for greatness." Success takes time and discipline, and you should focus on what you can do better than any other company. "Disciplined people, disciplined thought, disciplined action—that's it, that's the essence of the breakthrough process."

I'll stop here, you get the idea.


Printed in 2001, you can find plenty of succinct summaries online, often with graphs. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood, but this book irritated me good ... to a great amount.

~ Epilogue: "Resiliency, not perfection, is the signature of greatness." Collins updated the epilogue a decade later and defended his choice of companies in case studies, some of which went under in the interim. Just because a company becomes great, does not mean it will stay great. ~

Favorite Quotes:

“The purpose of bureaucracy is to compensate for incompetence and lack of discipline.”

“Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don't have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don't have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.”

"It is your work in life that is the ultimate seduction."
— Pablo Picasso
Profile Image for Kressel Housman.
972 reviews224 followers
December 16, 2012
Good is the enemy of the great. That is the first sentence and thesis of this book. In other words, if you're performing adequately, your motivation to improve yourself can easily be stifled. After all, you're getting by. Why put in all that discipline to go from good to great? But if you want to go from good to great, this book promises you the secrets of doing it.

I guess I'm destined to be merely good because I'm returning this book to the library unfinished. I thought the advice was worth applying for the first half, but then I got to the point that said, "Figure out what you can be best in the world at. If you can't be the best in the world, then stop doing it."

Excuse me? Only the best is good enough? C'mon. Only one can be the best. The world is full of many, many second-bests, and we get along just fine.

Perhaps it's incorrect for me to try to apply these principles, which are meant for businesses, to my life as an individual. But I believe what I say for businesses, too. Not everybody can be the best. You can strive to be better, but if "best" is your goal, you're more likely to be disappointed than to succeed. And if not being the best is enough reason to give up, then I give up on this book.

Too bad. I really did want to become great.
Profile Image for إيمَانْ.
69 reviews24 followers
June 9, 2019
-لماذا يجب علي أن أكون عظيمًا؟ ألا يكفي أن أكون ناجحًا ؟
لأن الأشخاص العظماء لا يبذلون مجهود أكثر من الاشخاص الجيدين، هم فقط يبذلونه بالطريقة الصحيحة .
-لمَ يجب أن أجعل من عملي ذلك عظيمًا؟
لأنك إن كنت تعمل في شئ تشعر بالشغف تجاهه، تطوره وتنميه، وتشعر بمغزى لما تفعله فمن الطبيعي أن تر��ب بجعله عظيمًا. إن لم تكن تشعر بذلك تجاه ما تفعله، فعلى الأغلب أنت لا تقوم بالعمل الصحيح، والعملية برمتها تحتوي علي خطأ.
لست مديرة تنفيذية أو رائدة أعمال أو حتى صاحبة مشروع صغير، لكن الكتاب بالنسة لي ليس فقط لهؤلاء ومؤسساتهم، هو للأنسان، للحياة بشكل عام .هذا من ناحية ، من ناحية أخرى فقد اكسبني معرفة أكبر بعالم الأعمال والشركات والمؤسسات، وأزاد من شغفى .
ماطلت عندما اقترحه أبي بحجة أنني لست شغوفة بهذا القسم من الكتب، لكنني أحببته، وساعود إليه كثيرًا في المستقبل لأستقي المزيد من الحكمة والخبرة والتجربة المنصهرة بين فصوله.
شكرٌ جزيل لفريق البحث الدؤب ، وللكاتب.
Profile Image for Mohammad.
117 reviews16 followers
February 10, 2018
کتابی که نمی توان آن را به عنوان سرلوحه پیشرفت قرار داد اما می توان از نکات خوب و آموزنده آن به شرط بومی سازی بهره فراوان برد
Profile Image for Memduh Er.
57 reviews19 followers
April 13, 2020
Küçümseyerek okumaya başladığım bu kitap biraz utandırdı beni. Neye dayanarak küçümsemişim bilmem!

Kitap, çok titiz ve şeffaf bir araştırmanın sonucu yazılmış. Hem kafamdaki bir çok kalıbı kırdığını - en azından bazılarından şüphe etmemi sağladığını - hem de yönetim alanında ne kadar geride kaldığımızı bir kez daha hatırlattığını söyleyebilirim.

Mesela her zaman önce pozisyonun belli olması gerektiğini, ondan sonra bu pozisyon için eleman arayışına çıkılacağını iddia ederdim. Fakat bu kitap nitelikli insan gücünün pozisyondan daha önemli olduğunu söylüyor. Elinizde iyi insan malzemesi olduktan sonra pozisyon bulmak daha verimlidir diyor. Zaman zaman, bir garsonun işini ne kadar iyi yaptığını görüp, biraz fantaziye kaçarak da olsa, "bu adamı tek satır kod yazamasa da yazılım uzmanı olarak almak isterdim, nasıl olsa kısa zamanda onu da aynı özen ve dikkatle öğrenecek, yapacaktır" dediğimi hatırladım. Ama hiç "önce insan, sonra pozisyon" diye teorize etmemiştim.

Kesinlikle kaçırılmaması gereken bir kitap. İyi kitaplar sadece kendi alanlarıyla ilgili değil, kişisel yaşamla ilgili de bir şeyler söylüyorlar.
Profile Image for Maria.
341 reviews
January 3, 2020
In "Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't" Collins tried to explain how a company can reach greatness. for this, his model which he choose after tough benchmarking research process consisted of 11 companies that were able to make the leap.

You won't find a new miracle here but rather some good ideas or principles
Profile Image for Morgan Blackledge.
578 reviews1,956 followers
October 25, 2020
Oh my god!

This book makes me FREAK OUT!!!

It’s so DAMN GOOD.




There you go folks...


But seriously...

There are some really useful ideas in this book.


Three Circles:
1. What are you passionate about?
2. What can you be best in the world at?
3. What is your hedgehog concept?

It sounds dumb when it’s bulleted like this.

But it’s not.

You just have to read it.


Just read it.

Another key concept is:

The flywheel.

Yass qween yass.

Push that FUCKIN FLYWHEEL bitch!


Read it.


The window and the mirror.

When you want to know how shit got fucked up.

Look in the mirror dude!

When you want to know how shit got so rad.

Look out the window.

Look at all that white privilege (if you have some).

And if you didn’t read it.

Than look in the mirror at the person who fucked up.

It’s you.

That’s level 5!!!! (also in the book)

Now go do.


G2G is old.

It’s pimps companies like:

Circuit City and Hewlett Packard.


Wait what?

Not exactly cutting edge?

That’s true.

Don’t trip.

They used to fucking DOMINATE.

And the principles they used remain fresh AF.

And there in the book.


Fuckin YES 🙌

Get and read this great book.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (x5 stars)

25 reviews8 followers
March 6, 2019
Great nuggets of wisdom with statistical backing
Profile Image for Q.T. Pi.
Author 1 book22 followers
May 28, 2018
Well I read Good to Great and ya know what? I liked it. It had a lot to say on how to build a business from scratch and turn it into a thriving success. It was an easily digestible piece full of useful tidbits I hope to apply to my every day life as an author. I need to surround myself with the right team, focus on my goal, remain disciplined/not chase fads, and manage my expectations. Sounds easy enough right?
Profile Image for عزام.
453 reviews507 followers
August 20, 2020
كتاب إداري ممتاز عن نموّ المنظّمات

- الفريق المنضبط، يعطون فكرًا منضبطًا، فيكون التنفيذ منضبطًا
- ضع أفضل موظّفيك في أكبر فرصك لا مشاكلك
- مناخ الحقيقة: القيادة بالأسئلة لا التوجيهات، والمشاركة في الحوار لا الإجبار، والتحليل بلا لوم
- "ركّز الله يرحم أمّك علشان تفلح"
Profile Image for Giovanni Romano.
5 reviews1 follower
January 15, 2017
Too much chart and graph to be reader friendly, but overall great book for anyone who wants to become a good leader within an organization
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