The starting point for any company that wants to move from good to great is to understand that taking the next step is not something everybody can achieve. Every aspect of a business needs to be set up in the correct way to achieve greatness from a position of earlier success.
In the view of Jim Collins, the first step is to assemble the correct leadership who are capable of pushing the business towards greater success and further to greatness. Level Five leadership is required to achieve greatness, which means the chosen leader is an executive who has an ego, but is shy and determined to push their business on beyond its current position.
Getting the correct leader means employing those who are capable of planning their succession without damaging the reputation and career of those they see as threats to their current leadership. The reason this is a vital part of moving forward with your company is the ability to promote from within is shared by the majority of great companies. Traction is another excellent book on setting your company up for success like this.
What you will take away from Good to Great: the ability to think differently than you had in the past with the focus falling on how you establish your company. In most cases, we are told of great companies or corporations that are based on the formation of the perfect idea.
Jim Collins takes a different approach, the author explains that getting the right staff members into the building is the first step in moving a company into the great sector of any industry. As business leaders, we need to look for the right staff who are motivated and ready to move forward into the future with an organization they believe in completely.
Getting the correct people in place is the first step in moving towards greatness with the second step being removing those who do not have what it takes to take a company to greatness. To find the right people to hire definitely read the book WHO.
One of the biggest issues facing companies on the journey from good to great is creating a culture where the truth is always told, no matter how uncomfortable it may become. Collins refers to these as the brutal facts and reminds us they should not be shied away from.
In businesses where the truth is feared, many business leaders are looking for the best options for bringing success to their company but they do not want to face the truth. The truth can be distorted in companies that fail to reach greatness with the facts needing to be understood often ignored in favor of a biased view that damages the push for success.
By avoiding blame and facing up to the chance of success being achieved, you will find yourself with a better opportunity to look at the three key concepts of Jim Collins's book. The so-called, hedgehog concept is one that we can all accept as holding the keys to greatness for any company we are involved with.
The hedgehog concept is based on our desire to achieve greatness. Collins compares the hedgehog to a fox, which is known for its ability to work on many complex tasks at once. The hedgehog is capable of only working towards a single goal, a concept we should all replicate as we try to become great at what we do as a business.
Collins takes a look at technology and focuses on how technology can be used for both good and bad in any company. Collins points to the development of any number of technology-based companies that have grown up in the last ten years. However, he looks at others and reveals they have become great because they were only willing to use technology for specific aspects of their business.
The example of Walgreens pharmacy is the most impressive in the book because the author explains the company refused to be rushed into online ordering systems. The time it took Walgreens to enter the online market affected the share price of the company negatively, but its position as a great company meant the Level Five Leaders were not willing to risk their status for short-term gains. The key takeaway from the work of Walgreens is that technology should enhance the business and not be added purely because it has arrived. For more business stories like this read the book I Love Capitalism by the co-founder of The Home Depot.
In the end, every great company discussed by Jim Collins in Good to Great did not appear fully formed in its final shape. Instead, the principles and rules used by great companies in the book are part of a multi-year plan that moved their companies forward towards a great future with the right people in place. If you enjoyed this book you will love Small Giants a story about companies that choose to be great instead of big.