How To Go From Good to Great – A Road Map To Taking Your Company To Greatness

16 Feb

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don'tGood to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t by Jim Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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‘]



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!



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.

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Posted by on February 16, 2012 in Book Reviews, Books, Thoughts


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2 responses to “How To Go From Good to Great – A Road Map To Taking Your Company To Greatness

  1. SuperTramP

    February 22, 2012 at 01:07

    Seems to be some confusion about the name ‘Hedgehog Concept’….

    I have tried to explain why it is called so above… It comes from an old folktale about a Hedgehog and a Fox. The Fox comes everyday with a hundred new ideas on how to catch the hedgehog and he tries it all. But for everything the Hedgehog reacts by doing the one thing that it knows best – rolling tight in a ball and protecting itself. The Fox is always out-foxed.



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