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Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't
by Jim Collins
Publisher: Collins
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Edition: Hardcover
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Editorial Reviews:'s Best of 2001
Five years ago, Jim Collins asked the question, "Can a good company become a great company and if so, how?" In Good to Great Collins, the author of Built to Last, concludes that it is possible, but finds there are no silver bullets. Collins and his team of researchers began their quest by sorting through a list of 1,435 companies, looking for those that made substantial improvements in their performance over time. They finally settled on 11--including Fannie Mae, Gillette, Walgreens, and Wells Fargo--and discovered common traits that challenged many of the conventional notions of corporate success. Making the transition from good to great doesn't require a high-profile CEO, the latest technology, innovative change management, or even a fine-tuned business strategy. At the heart of those rare and truly great companies was a corporate culture that rigorously found and promoted disciplined people to think and act in a disciplined manner. Peppered with dozens of stories and examples from the great and not so great, the book offers a well-reasoned road map to excellence that any organization would do well to consider. Like Built to Last, Good to Great is one of those books that managers and CEOs will be reading and rereading for years to come. --Harry C. Edwards

Book Description

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 verybeginning.

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?

Over five years, the team analyzed the histories of all twenty-eight companies in the study. After sifting through mountains of data and thousands of pages of interviews, Collins and his crew discovered the key determinants of greatness -- why some companies make the leap and others don't.

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.

“Some of the key concepts discerned in the study,” comments Jim Collins, "fly in the face of our modern business culture and will, quite frankly, upset some people.”

Perhaps, but who can afford to ignore these findings?

Product Details
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Collins; edition ()
  • ISBN: 0066620996
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 Based on 387 reviews.
  • Sales Rank: 28

Customer Reviews

0 of 0 people found the following review helpful:

4Level 5 leaders?, Sep 30, 2023
The greatest strength of this book, for me, is its demonstration that CEO's don't need to be visionaries to be effective, that they can be modest facilitators, in effect, who draw ideas for new strategic directions out of their teams by asking them challenging questions. My only complaint is that Collins calls this ''level 5 leadership''. We used to identify leadership with providing direction. The reality in Good to Great businesses is that CEO's are stimulating leadership in others by asking provocative questions. For me this is a form of management defined as a coaching, facilitative activity. To call this ''level 5 leadership'' shows how deeply committed we are to seeing CEO's as leaders so long as they are effective, no matter what they do. Collins applauds his CEO's for facing reality but he himself does not face the reality that leadership might be bottom-up in some organizations where the CEO operates more as a coach, catalyst or facilitator than as a leader. Collins recognizes that today's organizations are too complex to be driven in a top down manner, but he does not see the implication of this fact - that leadership is inexorably moving downwards in organizations as surely as leadership moves away from military generals in guerrilla warfare.

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful:

5Excellent book, Sep 25, 2023
Must read for everyone who wants to be a part of change - Change for Good in your workplace

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful:

5It's worth the money and time I spent on it., Sep 19, 2023
Well, this book is full of business common sense, but it states what we don't want to say.

For those just out of school, like me, from the school experience, you don't need to spend much time on the work(study) as long as you pass the exam and submit the homework on time. A lot of short cut out there to save your energy.

However, my boss told me when I joined the company, "there is no short-cut, you have to work hard and catch up with others bit by bit; Mostly, a short-cut ends up with embarassing yourself...".

The author confirms the idea that all the successful changes happen by building the momentum, slow in the beginning. Although it looks happened overnight from outside.

I think this book lets me know some of the rules to make the business better. I am happy with buying and reading it.

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful:

4A good to great read!, Sep 13, 2023
A very well researched and clearly written study of 11 good companies, and how they became great. By applying the principles taught in this book, combined with actual research data showing the difference between what makes a company (or yourself) great, anyone can benefit.

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:

3OK material, grating delivery, Sep 13, 2023
The material in the book seems good; Collins has managed to extract some fascinating conclusions from his data, though as other reviwers have pointed out, the companies profiled have not continued their success post the end of Collins' study.

What made the audiobook only worthy of three stars was the amazingly anoying delivery by Mr. Collins. Every! word! is a reason! for an exclamation! point! Man - go take your ritalin, or lay off the speed...

I may pick up Collins' next work, but I'll make sure it is the book, and not the CD.


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