BOOK REVIEW: GOOD TO GREAT. WHY SOME COMPANIES MAKE THE LEAP AND OTHERS DON’T by Jim Collins

Why are you choosing to rest on your laurels when there is so much you and your business could become if only you’d push for more?

It took you so much sweat and tenacity to bring your business this far, a little extra wouldn’t hurt. This book, a result of 5 years of research understudying 28 companies, provides timeless, universal answers to the question, “Can a good company become a great company and, if so, how?”


In 9 chapters and 219 pages (the entire book is 334 pages tho!), Jim Collins discusses each of the qualities that helped some companies make the leap from good to great and sustained that height as compared to those who never made the leap or who did but fell off the top as soon as they got there. I’ll share three of them:

1. The right people

To make the leap from good to great, ask the “who?” question before “what?”. This point really surprised me, as the usual move would be to create a vision, draw a strategy and then bring the people on board who will make it happen. However, Collins asks, “what happens if the direction has to change?”. Getting the right people on board and in the right ‘seats’ and taking wrong people out is very important for sustained growth irrespective of change.

To hire this way, you have to look out for people who have the necessary values needed to embark on a journey of greatness. Jim says, “if you have the right people on the bus, the problem of how to motivate and manage people largely goes away.

The right people don’t need to be tightly managed or fired up; they will be self-motivated by the inner drive to produce the best results and to be part of creating something great.”

2. Faith

Faith is not blind. From observing the companies that moved from Good to great, Jim and his team observed that, when faced with tough times, they all retained faith that they would prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, AND AT THE SAME TIME confronted the most brutal facts of their current reality, whatever it was at the time. They termed this psychology, ” THE STOCKDALE PARADOX”. Jim says, “When you start with an honest and diligent effort to determine the truth of your situation, the right decisions often become self-evident.

It is impossible to make good decisions without infusing the entire process with an honest confrontation of the brutal facts.” The book highlights steps you can use in determining the truth of your current business situation.

3. Self-awareness

Do you a deep understanding and honest evaluation of these 3 questions, as it relates to your business?
  • What can you be the best in the world at (and, equally important, what can you NOT be the best in the world at)?
  • What drives your economic engine?
  • What are you most passionate about?
Their intersection, which the research team termed “Hedgehog concept”, will serve as the most important frame of reference for all decisions you take for your business (e.g. applying for a grant, a coaching or business upgrade session, adopting appropriate technology, etc) Jim says, “If you make a lot of money doing things at which you could never be the best, you’ll only build a successful company, not a great one. If you become the best at something, you’ll never remain on top if you don’t have intrinsic passion for what you are doing. Finally, you can be passionate all you want, but if you can’t be the best at it or it doesn’t make economic sense, then you might have a lot of fun, but you won’t produce great results.” This book is very rich and I want you to read it. I demand you read it. Go ahead and get a copy so we can have more African businesses that move from SMEs to empires! Happy reading!
Lauretta

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