Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't

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Harper Collins, Oct 16, 2001 - Business & Economics - 320 pages
1236 Reviews

The Challenge
Built to Last, the defining management study of the nineties, showed how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the verybeginning.

But what about the company that is not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness?

The Study
For years, this question preyed on the mind of Jim Collins. Are there companies that defy gravity and convert long-term mediocrity or worse into long-term superiority? And if so, what are the universal distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great?

The Standards
Using tough benchmarks, Collins and his research team identified a set of elite companies that made the leap to great results and sustained those results for at least fifteen years. How great? After the leap, the good-to-great companies generated cumulative stock returns that beat the general stock market by an average of seven times in fifteen years, better than twice the results delivered by a composite index of the world's greatest companies, including Coca-Cola, Intel, General Electric, and Merck.

The Comparisons
The research team contrasted the good-to-great companies with a carefully selected set of comparison companies that failed to make the leap from good to great. What was different? Why did one set of companies become truly great performers while the other set remained only good?

Over five years, the team analyzed the histories of all twenty-eight companies in the study. After sifting through mountains of data and thousands of pages of interviews, Collins and his crew discovered the key determinants of greatness -- why some companies make the leap and others don't.

The Findings
The findings of the Good to Great study will surprise many readers and shed light on virtually every area of management strategy and practice. The findings include:

  • Level 5 Leaders: The research team was shocked to discover the type of leadership required to achieve greatness.
  • The Hedgehog Concept (Simplicity within the Three Circles): To go from good to great requires transcending the curse of competence.
  • A Culture of Discipline: When you combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get the magical alchemy of great results. Technology Accelerators: Good-to-great companies think differently about the role of technology.
  • The Flywheel and the Doom Loop: Those who launch radical change programs and wrenching restructurings will almost certainly fail to make the leap.

“Some of the key concepts discerned in the study,” comments Jim Collins, "fly in the face of our modern business culture and will, quite frankly, upset some people.”

Perhaps, but who can afford to ignore these findings?


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A lot of good insights and well structured research. - Goodreads
Good for entrepreneurs and educational leaders. - Goodreads
Contains awesome advice on building a lasting company. - Goodreads
Nothing revolutionary, but good pointers, nonetheless. - Goodreads
Interesting premise: good is an enemy of great :) - Goodreads
Pretty good concepts, well done research. - Goodreads

Review: Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't

User Review  - Carlos Medina - Goodreads

The simplicity of the findings in the research and the author's ability to relate that to a large audience are what make this a good book. It kept my attention throughout with interesting anecdotes. I think anyone in business or inspiring to be should read this book. Read full review

Review: Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't

User Review  - Clark Masterson - Goodreads

Great read and worth reading for anyone in management, business, etc. Even though there are no brand new ideas, it points out where good companies went right, regarding their business. Some of the ... Read full review

All 5 reviews »


Level 5 Leadership
First Who Then What
Confront the Brutal Facts
The Hedgehog Concept
A Culture of Discipline
The Flywheel and the Doom Loop
Frequently Asked Questions
Research Appendices

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2001)

Jim Collins is author or coauthor of six books that have sold in total more than ten million copies worldwide, including the bestsellers Good to Great, Built to Last, and How the Mighty Fall. Jim began his research and teaching career on the faculty at Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he received the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1992. He now operates a management laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, where he conducts research, teaches, and consults with executives from the corporate and social sectors.

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