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Good to Great Book Review: What Makes You Great!

Jim Collins during his study was surprised to know that some companies suddenly made a leap to greatness but some were left behind. Good to Great book was published in 2001, Jim Collins explained the results of his five years study, where he examined the key reasons behind the success of those public companies which led them to achieve success leaving behind the other companies.

Jim Collins explained the five major concepts which according to him led these companies to stand out from the rest,

  • The Hedgehog Concept
  • Role of Level 5 Leaders
  • Getting Right People
  • The Stockdale Paradox
  • Building Culture of Self Discipline

The Hedgehog Concept

According to Jim Collins, Good to great companies were able to find their own hedgehog concept by answering these three simple key questions.

  • What can we be the best in the world at? 
  • What can we be passionate about? 
  • What is the key economic indicator we should concentrate on? 

And the intersection of these circles described their own hedgehog concept. After discovering their own hedgehog concept all their policies and efforts were focussed on that.

Let us take an example of drugstore chain Walgreens.
They discovered that to become a most convenient drugstore they need a high customer profit per visit.
This simple hedh]gehog concept pushed them to outperform the general stock market by a factor of seven

Role of Level 5 Leaders

In his Book, Jim Collins explained the importance of Level 5 leaders. He described that all the good to great companies flourished under the guidance of level 5 leaders.
Here are some key characteristics of level 5 leaders

  • Level 5 leaders are team members, managers, and leaders,
  • Level 5 leaders were found ambitious on behalf of the company.
  • They remain humble with the people around them
  • Level 5 leaders were driven towards results and wanted to leave a culture of continuous performance even after they leave

Let’s take an example Level 5 leader Darwin Smith, who helped Kimberly-Clark to emerge as one of the leading paper consumer goods companies in the world.

Getting Right People

According to Jim Collins, getting the right people in the team is the foundation of every company to transform from Good to Great. Companies not only need to get the right people but also they need to get rid of the wrong people.
When companies recruit right people they no longer need to define a clear path for them as they will eventually find the right path to success.

Let’s take an example of Wells Fargo when their CEO Dick Cooley realized that getting best and passionate people into the organization is the only way to prevail from the imminent deregulations of the banking industry.

The Stockdale Paradox

Stockdale Paradox is a concept of confronting hard facts while maintaining faith. Stockdale Paradox was first introduced by the US Admiral who was captured during the Vietnam War. He was continuously tortured by the enemy and he was not sure whether he will be able to see his family again. But under hostile circumstances, he never loses hope and he knew one day he will see his family again but didn’t know when.
Only one thing kept him alive and didn’t allow his spirit to die down was the fact that he never indulged himself in foolish optimism like his fellow soldiers.

Building Culture of Self Discipline

Jim Collin has described the importance of Self Discipline in following the Hedgehog concept.
For Eg: Former triathlete Dave Scott was self disciplined to rinse his daily cottage cheese meal before eating to minimize his daily fat consumption even after the his daily routine of 75 miles of biking, 17 miles of run and 12 miles of swim.

Key Takeaways from Good To Great Book

  • You can also find your simple hedgehog by asking three simple questions explained above
  • Being humble and modest in the foundation of becoming a leader
  • Right people are not required to motivate by the management
  • We must accept the hard and nasty facts without losing hope
  • Simple discipline is the foundation of following the Hedgehog concept
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