Good to Great – Book Review

May 28th, 2013 · No Comments · Books

Got a chance to read a book called ‘Good to Great’ by Jim Collins. It is by far the best management related book I have ever read in my life.

good-to-great-jim-collins

This book talks about how companies have evolved from one stage to another, eg. from being a good company to becoming a great company, or the reverse of it. This is not a management book about how you can be great or how you have to find yourself, blah, blah, blah. Instead, this book is all about facts and data about a selected set of companies, analyzing their patterns of change over a period of 15 years or more, and how they transformed from an ordinary company into a great one.

As I have personal experience dealing with some of the companies mentioned in the book, such as A&P, Circuit City, Gillette, etc., I could visualize the transformation that has been discussed during the research on these companies.

The book has been well grouped into chapters which give you a nice story line – if you start thinking about how you would like to mould your organization. The key chapter topics are:

  • Level 5 Managers: This one talks about what differentiates great Level5 managers from others. I liked¬† the ‘Window and Mirror’ example. In this example, when something good happens in the organization, the Level5 manager looks out of the window and says I am lucky to have this team and whenever something goes wrong, he looks at the mirror and tries to understand what mistakes he did that could be avoided to prevent this in future.
  • First Who – Then What: This chapter was the most enlightening chapter to me. I used to believe that we can take any person, motivate them into doing things right and building a great team.¬† This chapter was an eye opener and it talks about getting the right people on the team and the wrong ones off the team and then deciding in which direction to steer the organizaton.
  • Confront The Brutal Facts: This one talks about ‘Stockdale Syndrome’ where in difficult times, one should continuing to have complete faith in the success in the long term, without trying to associate a deadline to it. At the same, the leader should also face the brutal reality of today and handle it with care.
  • The Hedgehog Concept: This chapter is my most favourite chapter. It talks about how we use the three circles on the topics of ‘what can we be best at’, ‘where is the passion’, ‘what drives the economic engine’, and how the great companies have shown a pattern of intersection of these three circles in their respective cases.

g-t-g-hedgehog-concept

  • Culture of Disciple: This chapter was another eye opener for me. It reminded me about a series of slides I had read earlier written by Dharmesh Shah from HubSpot. (Will share them soon here).
  • Technology Accelerators: This message was good. Technology can only be used to accelerate the growth, but cannot be the core engine behind growth.
  • Flywheel and Doomloop: This one was a nice chapter, makes you feel good when you visualize how the momentum will keep building if we do the things right.
  • Good to Great to Built to Last: This chapter talks about how to take a company from good to great level and then sustaining it there. In fact, the author, Jim Collins, has already written another book called ‘Built to Last’ which I have not read so far, but should help define this concept more and help understand this better.

Overall, this is a book I highly recommend to anyone interested in building a world class organization.

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