Written by J. C. Collins and published in 2011, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap—and Others Don’t describes how companies have actually transitioned from average to huge, while also examining the other side: why this transition does not happen and why those companies end up in failure. The first book focuses on “Built to last,” which defines management of the nineties, showing how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into DNA of an enterprise from the very beginning.
Collins also examines how companies not born with the DNA for achieving success can also gain success and how mediocre and bad companies can also achieve enduring greatness on the whole. This question had long been on the author’s mind and throughout the book he works to answer it. Other questions he tried to answer related to companies who convert long-term mediocrity to success or deteriorate from long-term superiority to failure. What are the essential characteristics that cause a company to move from good to great? In this book, Collins and his research team set up some tough benchmarks and identify a few top-notch companies who have achieved outstanding results that sustained them over a period of 15 years.
Overall, the book “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap—and Others Don’t “is a great resource for entrepreneurship because of its studies. Those who want to do business should read it to understand the keys to a successful and sustainable business. The key of doing great business is its success in the long term, and understanding the characteristics that make it happen is most essential. Reviewing the book reveals five findings:
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): Going from good to great requires transcending the curse of competence.
A Culture of Discipline: Combining a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship yields the magical alchemy for great results.
Technology Accelerators: Good-to-great companies think differently about technology’s role.
The Flywheel and the Doom Loop: Those who launch radical-change programs and wrenching restructurings will almost certainly fail to make the leap.
However, out of the five it was the hedgehog concept—how to find the one big thing your company must focus on—that caught my attention. What is the hedgehog concept? It is the idea that similar things which equal another thing also equal one another, “an axiom to the One Thing.” The idea is based on the famous essay by Isaiah Berlin, “The Hedgehog and the Fox,” which describes how the world is divided into two types. The fox knows many things. The fox is a very cunning creature, able to devise a myriad of complex strategies to launch a sneak attack upon hedgehog. The hedgehog knows one big thing, rolling up into a perfect little ball to become a sphere of sharp spikes, pointing outward in all directions. The hedgehog always wins despite the different tactics the fox uses.
For business, the Hedgehog Concept is the intersection of three circles. It is more than a strategy: It is really an understanding. It is interesting to note the difference that Jim Collins identifies in Good to Great. “Good-to-great companies set their goals and strategies based on understanding; comparison companies set their goals and strategies based on bravado. The good to great companies are more like hedgehogs; they know ‘one big thing’ and stick to it. The comparison companies are more like foxes; they know many things but lack consistency.” Therefore, it is important for our organization, Restoration Christian Outreach Community, to continue focusing on restoring the culture’s spiritual foundation as our one big thing, “The Hedgehog Concept.” to become a greater community. The success of our spiritual growth is determined by the strength of our spiritual foundation, (Matthew 7: 24-27 KJV). The Scripture asserts that the Christian life built on a solid foundation will withstand the storms of life
Good to Great and the Social Sectors: Why Business Thinking Is Not the Answer … this is Collins Second book, which is actually an extended version of a new chapter destined for upcoming editions of Good to Great.Jim Collins states that this monologue might not be interesting for everyone, but it does serve anyone in the social sectors well. He is interested in this topic for two reasons. First, he was surprised at how his work is reaching the social sectors even though he is a business writer. Second, he is always eager to learn new things, and this book is about the numerous challenges facing social-sector leaders and the questions that puzzle them when applying his work to such different circumstances
An outstanding monograph, the book highlights some of the most important and topical thoughts associated with leadership and excellence in the social sector. The main thought from the monograph is that “We must reject the idea—well-intentioned but dead wrong—that the primary path to greatness in the social sectors is to become ‘more like a business.’” The author explains that the major distinction is actually not business versus social; rather, it is great versus good.
Overall, the book is very informative and has helped me navigate leadership principles in the context of running a social-sector organization. Ultimately, the greatness principles include discipline, measuring results, and strong leadership, but these are not necessarily “business” concepts; rather, these concepts correlate with great organizations. We need to stop comparing nonprofits with businesses, and begin looking at what sets great organizations apart from others. This will help us begin building great—not good—nonprofits in the social sector. In 1977, Robert Greenleaf published his reflections on his journey into the nature of power and greatness. Greenleaf’s reflections presented a rather optimistic model of leadership that he believed could be achieved—that leaders, through their service, could legitimize their power and help build a serving society. Yet to do so, leaders had to model principles that, at least at the outset, seemed counterintuitive to many people’s concepts of leadership. This principle emanated from a desire to serve that, according to Greenleaf, was inherent in the leader. For Greenleaf, “the servant-leader is servant first …. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve.” The Bible is replete with examples of leaders who sought to serve others (Joseph, Moses, Peter, Paul, etc.). Thus, it is not difficult to see why the concept of servant leadership continues to resonate with Christian leaders today. What may be more difficult is for believers to remember the importance of who is to be the primary recipient of our service.
. James Charles Collins, Good to Great and the Social Sectors: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great (New York: Random House, 2006), 1.
. R. K. Greenleaf, Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness (New York: Paulist Press, 1977).
. Gordon Walker, “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap—and Others Don’t,” Academy of Management Perspectives 20, no. 1 (2006): 120–22.
. James C. Collins, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap—and Others Don’t, Kindle ed. (New York, NY: HarperBusiness, 2011).
. Douglas Wick, “The Hedgehog Concept” in Strategic Discipline Blog November 8, 2013. http://strategicdiscipline.positioningsystems.com/bid/98239/The-Hedgehog-Concept (accessed August 30, 2016).