Read and Learn: Good to Great

I’m having a hard time narrowing down my thoughts on Good to Great by Jim Collins. To be honest, each of the six sections of the book could comprise its own post. In this book, Collins, who also wrote Built to Last, sets out to study how companies could achieve enduring greatness. In the process, his research team uncovers 11 companies that made the jump from good (or even mediocre or bad) to great. They then interview executives from these 11 companies to try to tease out similarities that contributed to their greatness. The six concepts fall into three categories: disciplined people, disciplined thought and disciplines action. I’ll limit myself to comments on two of these concepts.

First who … then what
The good to great companies “first got the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) and then figured out where to drive it.” Moreover, Collins observes that “the right people don’t need to be tightly managed or fired up; they will be self-motivated by the inner drive to produce the best results and to be part of creating something great.” When you think about it, this approach makes a lot of sense. If you have the right team of adaptable individuals working together, then you have a lot of freedom to remain nimble and change direction as needed.

The Hedgehog Concept
This piece is all about determining a core idea that unites your team’s passion, your team’s unique expertise and determining your company’s ultimate economic denominator. It’s the core idea that drives the business. It can be extremely simple. Collins notes that determining the Hedgehog Concept can be an iterative process that takes time. On average, he says, the 11 good to great companies took four years to find theirs. Finally, once you uncover your Hedgehog Concept, you reach the hardest part — sticking to it, even when flashier ideas pass by.

Does either of these concepts ring true to you? How have you seen them play out?