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

by James C. Collins

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
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.
  OHIOCLDC | Jul 1, 2015 |
Good to Great is a perennial entry on lists of top business books, and for good reason. Jim Collins and his team of researchers spent years examining the characteristics of companies that made the transition from being merely “good” to being leaders in their respective industries.

The factors that Collins identified — hiring, training, and retaining the right people; identifying and building on core organizational strengths; and working for small, incremental growth — are factors that can also be used to build up great parishes, Catholic schools, and other ministries.

I love Good to Great’s reliance on solid research and data demonstrating that what we think are the characteristics of great organizations — especially the idea of a dynamic genius in charge — are rarely effective in promoting real success.

Collins wrote a short follow-up, Good to Great in the Social Sectors, in 2005 — it treats the Good to Great concept in the context of non-profit organizations. But the original book contains all the foundational themes of Collins’ work. ( )
  sullijo | Jun 25, 2015 |
Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...and Others Don't by Jim Collins (2001). This is one of those must-read MBA texts that many people talk about but I just now got around to reading.

Collins teaches at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. His research team looked at 1,435 Fortune 500 companies from 1970 to 2000 in order to find ones that had 15 years in which the stock price grew by about the same rate as the overall average, followed by 15 consecutive years of growth well above the market average. 11 companies fit the bill: Abbott Laboratories, Circuit City, Fannie Mae, Gillette, Kimberly-Clark, Kroger, Nucor, Philip Morris, Pitney Bowes, Walgreens, and Wells Fargo.

The team then found firms in the same industry to compare these firms to, companies that maybe had a few years of outstanding growth and then fizzled. This allowed the researchers to compare and contrast characteristics of firms, so 28 companies are mentioned in total.

The common characteristics of the "Good to Great" companies are interesting. Most of the CEOs preferred almost anonymity, and were fairly disciplined about spending and often forwent bonuses and large amounts of compensation. They had the Warren Buffett characteristic of living in the same house for 50 years, driving a used car, etc. In a few companies, executives were rewarded purely by their titles rather than perks and pay, creating a corporate ethos that seemed to foster productivity. The humility of the successful CEOs was a huge insight.

The companies also stuck doggedly to core principles, whatever those may be. Collins terms this the "hedgehog" concept. Never straying from your core business and defining your mission was crucial. There is also the "three circles" concept, the 11 companies pursued success in areas where they could be highly successful, in which they were highly motivated, and which fit their profile. Collins admits that that some of the companies probably created a few products that may not have added much long-run value to our society (Phillip Morris).


The companies utilized technology where it fit the company, but none of the companies relied on a particular set of technology for a homerun. These companies were studied during the tech boom of the 90's, and many were the antithesis of the fly-by-night companies of that era.

However, something that jumps out about the 11 companies is that just a few years later two of them (Fannie Mae, Wells Fargo) would require extraordinary government help to survive. Collins lauds Fannie Mae's helping pioneer the use of credit default swaps and other financial instruments that helped funnel credit into the housing market, particularly the subprime market, helping to fuel the housing boom. Collins never mentions that Fannie got to borrow at below-market rates because the market knew it had an implicit government guarantee that would keep it from ever defaulting. Wells Fargo was obviously also a large player in the subprime market, though it was interesting to hear how it responded to deregulation and excelled in comparison to other banks. I remember reading in Capital Ideas how Wells Fargo was a pioneer of some areas of financial innovation, and its focus on hiring the absolute best and brightest is highlighted by Collins. To be fair, these companies thrived in an atmosphere of deregulation with certain government supports, but they thrived much more than firms they were competing with in the same environment.

The housing market crash and ensuing recession wiped out Circuit City. I'd like to read a follow-up on how Circuit City went from great to defunct by 2009. Best Buy relegated it to #2 and Wikipedia records that CC had 567 stores nationwide when it went bankrupt.

I've found a few bloggers who have increasingly looked back on this book with a critical eye. You'll also find a number of organizations that give out "Good to Great" awards to employees, managers, etc.

MBA literature is worth reading for the insights it gives into successful companies. But the constant creation of new vernacular (like "Level Five Leader") are a turn-off for me.. too many fads! There's nothing new under the sun, as Solomon put it. What I see from the leadership of the Good to Great companies is very Psalm 15, and that's what I primarily gleaned from the book.

I give it 4 stars out of 5. ( )
  justindtapp | Jun 3, 2015 |
Excellent book to share with your leadership team! Easy and practice principles for managing and organizing a management team. ( )
  GospelChick | Dec 31, 2014 |
For Ed, With best wishes, Jim Collins
  efeulner | May 2, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
Jim Collins new book is titled Good To Great. If you haven't read it yet, buy, beg, or borrow it. It's that important.
Collins calls Good To Great a "prequel" to his hugely successful Built To Last. I call it the most important Business Leadership book I have read in a long time.
 

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Collins, James C.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tillman, MaaritTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This book is dedicated to the Chimps. I love you all, each and every one.
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
Pourquoi certaines entreprises affichant des performances plutot moyennes décolent ils soudain pour rejoinder le peloton de tete?

Peandant 5 ans Jim Collins et sn équipe de chercheurs se sont attelés à cette vaste question pour débusquer le secret de la conversion à l'excellence. Onze entreprises , retenues pour leur performances boursières très supérieures à celles de leur secteur , ont été comparées à leurs concurrentes . Les conclusions qui en ressortent sont étonnantes !
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0066620996, Hardcover)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:03 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

A cogent, well-argued and instructive guide establishing the definition of a good-to-great transition--one that involves a 10-year fallow period followed by 15 years of increased profits. Collins generated this book from the findings of 11 Fortune 500 companies' stellar successes.… (more)

» see all 5 descriptions

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