Good to Greatest

Note: I was very fortunate to be able to see and listen to a lot of wisdom from Jim Collins in April of this year. If you haven't heard of him, it is not too late. His more popular books where you can find some of his wisdom are: "Good to Great," "Built to Last," "How the Mighty Fall," and "Great by Choice." Enjoy.

Here is what I took away from the Jim Collins talk last spring - 2.5 hours of beautiful pearls that addressed directly some of the most common issues we all face every day, especially if you want to have a "great" organization.

He characterizes "Good" as the enemy of "Great" - good organizations get involved in fire drills more than great organizations do which expend their energy by looking at the future - the exclusive province of great organizations. A way to keep on the right track is to recite the following three mantras everyday:

1. Are we providing superior results - R.O.I.?
2. Are we making a distinctive impact?
3. Are we building for lasting endurance (as an organization)?

Other great pearls of wisdom from Mr. Collins; after 15 years and 7,000 collective years of wisdom from studying businesses across America, he offers the following 12 questions every leadership team must be able to answer in the affirmative if they want to become "Great." They are:

1. Do we want a build a great company?

  • If so, then we need to strive for Level 5 leadership. The difference between Level 4 and Level 5 leaderships is humility.
  • At any company, no single person has the power to make it happen. It is a Level 5 leader that causes it to happen by assembling coalitions to create the condition to make the right things happen.

2. What core values will we build to create an enduring culture?

3. Do we have the right people?

  • The first focus should be on the key seats and figure out who will drive the bus. Most importantly, leaders need to see everyone as a professional and treat them as a professional.

4. What are the brutal facts?

5. What do we understand about our hedgehog concept?

  • What are we fanatically passionate about and what can we do to be the best in the world?

6. Why do some leaders prevail in the most difficult circumstances?

  • The leadership behavior maps include fanatical discipline, productive paranoia, and empirical creativity. The goal is to have consistent performance year-in-and-year-out no matter the external circumstances.

7. Where should we place our big creative bets, first fire bullets, and then fire cannon balls.

  • What is rare is to marry discipline with creativity that amplifies creativity and does not destroy it.

8. What is our big, hairy audacious goal (BHAG)?

  • The underlying duality – do not abandon the core and do stimulate progress.

9. What is the right 20 percent of the recipe to change and why?

10. How can we increase our return on luck making the most on our luck?

  • What is in place before the luck event is what influences what happens to increase rate of return on good luck or bad luck.

11. Do we show any of the warning signs of the 5 stages of decline?

  • Hubris born of success;
  • The undisciplined pursuit of "more";
  • Denial of risk and peril;
  • Grasping for salvation; and finally,
  • Capitulation to irrelevance.

12. What should be on our stop doing list?

Post Script - I would say that is pretty good stuff. SM