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Good to Great
Cover of Good to Great
Good to Great
Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't

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 companies that are not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness? Are there those that convert long-term mediocrity or worse into long-term superiority? If so, what are the distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great?

Over five years, Jim Collins and his research team have analyzed the histories of 28 companies, discovering why some companies make the leap and others don't. The findings include:

  • Level 5 Leadership: A surprising style, required for greatness.

  • The Hedgehog Concept: Finding your three circles, to transcend the curse of competence.

  • A Culture of Discipline: The alchemy of great results.

  • Technology Accelerators: How good-to-great companies think differently about technology.

  • The Flywheel and the Doom Loop: Why those who do frequent restructuring fail to make the leap.

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 companies that are not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness? Are there those that convert long-term mediocrity or worse into long-term superiority? If so, what are the distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great?

Over five years, Jim Collins and his research team have analyzed the histories of 28 companies, discovering why some companies make the leap and others don't. The findings include:

  • Level 5 Leadership: A surprising style, required for greatness.

  • The Hedgehog Concept: Finding your three circles, to transcend the curse of competence.

  • A Culture of Discipline: The alchemy of great results.

  • Technology Accelerators: How good-to-great companies think differently about technology.

  • The Flywheel and the Doom Loop: Why those who do frequent restructuring fail to make the leap.

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About the Author-
  • Jim Collins is a student and teacher of what makes great companies tick, and a Socratic advisor to leaders in the business and social sectors. Having invested more than a quarter-century in rigorous research, he has authored or coauthored six books that have sold in total more than 10 million copies worldwide. They include Good to Great, Built to Last, How the Mighty Fall, and Great by Choice.

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

    In addition to his work in the business sector, Jim has a passion for learning and teaching in the social sectors, including education, healthcare, government, faith-based organizations, social ventures, and cause-driven nonprofits.

    In 2012 and 2013, he had the honor to serve a two-year appointment as the Class of 1951 Chair for the Study of Leadership at the United States Military Academy at West Point. In 2017, Forbes selected Jim as one of the 100 Greatest Living Business Minds.

    Jim has been an avid rock climber for more than forty years and has completed single-day ascents of El Capitan and Half Dome in Yosemite Valley.

    Learn more about Jim and his concepts at his website, where you'll find articles, videos, and useful tools. jimcollins.com

Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine If you believe that a visionary leader with a strong ego is an essential component of sustained business success, then Jim Collins has a few thousand words for you. His carefully researched audiobook explains that the success of companies that outperform the market for 15 years in a row comes from selfless leadership, rigorous focus, and a culture of discipline. Like a lot of pop business books, much of this title can be filtered into a few catchphrases and concepts. But there's another reason this book has burst through as a bestseller, which you can feel in Collins's narration: He is honestly excited about his research and unconventional findings. R.W.S. 2006 Audie Award Winner (c) AudioFile 2001, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    September 3, 2001
    In what Collins terms a prequel to the bestseller Built to Last
    he wrote with Jerry Porras, this worthwhile effort explores the way good organizations can be turned into ones that produce great, sustained results. To find the keys to greatness, Collins's 21-person research team (at his management research firm) 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. That Collins is able to distill the findings into a cogent, well-argued and instructive guide is a testament to his writing skills. After establishing a definition of a good-to-great transition that involves a 10-year fallow period followed by 15 years of increased profits, Collins's crew combed through every company that has made the Fortune 500 (approximately 1,400) and found 11 that met their criteria, including Walgreens, Kimberly Clark and Circuit City. At the heart of the findings about these companies' stellar successes is what Collins calls the Hedgehog Concept, a product or service that leads a company to outshine all worldwide competitors, that drives a company's economic engine and that a company is passionate about. While the companies that achieved greatness were all in different industries, each engaged in versions of Collins's strategies. While some of the overall findings are counterintuitive (e.g., the most effective leaders are humble and strong-willed rather than outgoing), many of Collins's perspectives on running a business are amazingly simple and commonsense. This is not to suggest, however, that executives at all levels wouldn't benefit from reading this book; after all, only 11 companies managed to figure out how to change their B grade to an A on their own.

  • AudioFile Magazine How does a good corporation become great? By comparing top companies like Kroger with also-ran companies like A&P, the author tracked what determined success over 20 years. The research was rigorous and covered everything ever written about the companies that might reveal which variables are important. Leadership discipline, determination, and humility, for example, helped; high executive compensation and egocentric charisma didn't. In spite of a fast reading that makes some of the information blur, the complexity and elegance of this research make the study interesting and credible. Beyond the technical findings, the program provides the optimistic view that leaders do make a difference when they support their people and pay attention to organizational process and succession. T.W. (c) AudioFile 2005, Portland, Maine
  • Library Journal

    Starred review from April 1, 2006
    Collins follows his successful "Built To Last" (coauthor, with Jerry Porras), which showed how companies triumph over time, with this extensive analysis of how good, mediocre, and even bad companies can achieve enduring greatness. Collins led a research team of 21 members who analyzed data on 1,435 companies, looking for the few that made substantial improvements in their performance over time. The 11 featured businesses, which earned the -good-to-great - label, outperformed the market by a multiple of at least three over a 15-year period and were able to sustain their success for at least 15 years. They include Circuit City, Fannie Mae, Kimberly Clark, Phillip Morris, and Wells Fargo. The author reveals common traits that distinguish these companies from comparison firms that failed to reach a similar level of success. Collins -s deeply earnest narration is heightened by his obvious zeal for the material, further enhancing this solid content that will likely have more staying power than Tom Peters -s "In Search of Excellence". Highly recommended for larger public libraries and university libraries supporting a business curriculum." -Dale Farris, Groves, TX"

    Copyright 2006 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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