“Good is the enemy of great.
And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great.
We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life. The vast majority of companies never become great, precisely because the vast majority become quite good—and that is their main problem.”
Here is a book that I took too long to get to — probably because the title, while direct and clear, isn’t snazzy or very memorable.
And that reasoning is a perfect snapshot of what makes Good To Great an amazing book.
Jim Collins and a team of dedicated researchers decided to ask the question, what is it about some companies that makes them stand out from others — and keeps them continuing to stand out?
The simple, not-catchy answer is, a handful of fundamentals that don’t include fireworks, fiery speeches, firecracker leaders, or any urgent actions that involve fire.
What makes already-good companies — which is the basis of this book, but the principles apply to teams and people as well — great is (in no particular order):
- Having the right leadership.
- Seeing the facts for what they are and addressing those facts.
- Knowing their core differentiator.
- Having the right people, over having the right strategy.
- Being disciplined — in people, thought and action.
- Keeping all the above in mind over an extended (10+ years) period of time.
Good To Great explains how some (publicly traded) companies, good (based on predetermined market performance factors) companies, either never make it to great or completely dissolve (or get acquired) because of their lack of either knowing or sticking to the principles listed above. Collins then uses the entirety of Good To Great to explain how this happens (or doesn’t happen).
I don’t work for any publicly traded companies, but Good To Great is one of the best books I’ve ever read regarding business performance.
You Should Read Good To Great IF: you’re in business in any capacity, from owner to employee to manager to CEO to board member to stockholder. This is the best book on organization + strategy I’ve ever read.