While reading Jim Collin’s Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t, I found myself placing the material into three district categories; Things I Liked, Things I Found Curious, and Things I Struggled With.
Things I Liked
Two things that I particularly liked were the Hedgehog Concept and the “Not-To-Do” list.
The hedgehog concept is the art of finding the intersection of your passion, what you are best at, and your resource engine. “Hedgehogs see what is essential, and ignore the rest.” This concept works for individuals, businesses, and even churches. Over the years, I have seen so many churches grow frustrated as they try to replicate what is working in another church. How many small-town churches have modeled their ministries after urban or suburban churches? There is great wisdom in understanding who we are and how God has equipped us to minister where he has placed us.
A natural outflow of the hedgehog concept is the development of a not-to-do list. The simple truth is that we do not have enough time or resources to do everything. If we want to do that which is truly important, the things that ultimately matter, we must learn to not do certain things. “The point is to realize that much of what we’re doing is at best a waste of energy. If we organized the majority of our work time around applying these principles, and pretty much ignored or stopped doing everything else, our lives would be simpler and our results vastly improved.” How many things does a local church do that ultimately keep it from doing what it should really be doing?
Things I Found Curious
Since this book was written in 2001, it was easy to see that the “great” companies of fifteen years ago may not be that great anymore. Even though they met all the criteria in 2001 and had a great track record for a decade and a half, there was no guarantee that they would remain great. Circuit City—need I say more?
Things I Struggled With
What does it really mean to be the greatest? Is Collins right when he says, “focusing solely on what you can potentially do better than any other organization is the only path to greatness”? If this is true, it would seem that very few companies could become great. If we apply this to a church, do we say that only churches with the best stats compared to others are great? What about individuals? Collins claims that, “many people have been pulled or have fallen into careers where they can never attain complete mastery and fulfillment. Suffering from the curse of competence but lacking a clear Hedgehog Concept, they rarely become great at what they do.” Is there a difference between being the greatest at your career and being a great person? If so, what is more important and what should receive top priority? Even in a career, is it ok to be second best? How about third or fourth? What would Jesus say? When asked about greatness, he did not point to leadership potential realized or end of quarter earnings. He did not create a matrix of comparison between individuals, he talked about serving others.
I am not saying that we should not do our best nor am I saying that we should not become great at what we do. I am simply observing that all earthly greatness will one day come to an end and our definition of greatness better be more than a fifteen year stock quote. Could we not say that hearing the words “well done, good and faithful servant” is the ultimate test on one’s greatness?
 James C. Collins, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap–and Others Don’t (New York, NY: HarperBusiness, Kindle Edition, 2001), Location 1603.
 Ibid., 3302.
 Ibid., 1763.
 Ibid., 1775.