Good to Great

I bought the “Good to Great” book two months back, but didn’t get enough time to read it. It was actually suggested by one of my friend along with “Blue Ocean Strategy”. Today I managed to read the first chapter of the book and found some very interesting thoughts and insights proven by researches. Still there are 8 more chapters to go, but the first chapter is the summary version of the book outlining the methods of analysis and data gathered for the research. I was amazed to see that this book was the outcome of a team of 21 people, including Jim Collins.

It’s obvious we never worry about becoming great, if we think we are good. Because good is the enemy of great. The reading of this first chapter had given me some great insights for my works and consultancy stuffs. But still eager to read the rest soon if the time permits. One interesting thing about this book is the companies which were considered for the analysis. These companies are quite unknown in the Sri Lankan context and the author had done a perfect study by collecting 50 years of articles (around 6,000), over 2000 pages of interview scripts, and 384 million bytes of computer data.

Study Summary 

So what is good to great? We know some companies perform well in the market, despite of unattractive industries. So what is the black box secret to become the great? I’m also interested to know the black box soon.

Generally if a company is well performing and well known its obvious the  CEO is also known. They give interviews, they talk about themselves, and their image will be used to strengthen the company since they act as the brand ambassadors. But in this good to great case the circumstance seems to be different. The great companies had a type of leadership totally different to well known personalities. They are self effacing, quiet, reserved, even shy and similar to Lincoln and Socrates and most importantly they had grown inside from the company and not recruited from outside. Please find the summary below

The strategy did not separate the great companies to good. Both set had well defined strategies, and these companies did not focus principally on what to do to become great, but instead focused equally on what not to do and what to stop doing. Seems they focused the indirect factor more and more. Even in terms of technology used, it didn’t become significant for these companies. They used it to accelerate the transformation but it s not a cause for transformation.

It is also common sometimes companies grow bigger and bigger and become great when the industry is performing well. But according to this book the companies considered for the study are exceptional. Their tremendous progress wasn’t because of the industry. All were not operated in healthy industries and some were operated in terrible industries too.

The total analysis of the book was depended on six phenomena, starting from

1-      Level 5 leadership

2-      First who, then what,

3-      Confront the brutal fact,

4-      Hedgehog concept

5-      A culture of discipline

6-      Technology accelerators

When looking at these points, it is obvious to see having great strategy, having personality leaders, having technology won’t make sense if the black box factors are not there. Let me read the remaining chapters and share the black box secret with you all :-).

Also mergers and acquisitions didn’t play a major role on these companies. In Sri Lankan context there are instances where companies merged together and did not reveal the expected output. While reading this book I thought to do the same analysis in the Sri Lankan context to see, whether these principles work in Sri Lanka as well or whether the findings are only relevant to the foreign context.