Good to Great, by Jim Collins

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Good to Great: Critically Summarize In Good to Great, by Jim Collins, a number of distinctions are drawn between what distinguishes a “good” company from a “great” company. Utilising a research team to do systemic quantitative and qualitative research of thousands of companies, the books intention is to identify exactly how good companies become great and outperform other companies in their specific business sector progressively and consistently. His team underwent a rigorous process of constantly interrogating and questioning certain hypotheses in order to expunge the main themes and trends behind what makes a great company, and, using a series of colourful anecdotes and metaphors, attempts to highlight exactly what companies need to do in order to be great. He looks specifically at 11 companies that, in terms of outperforming their competitors on a consistent and regular basis, are great companies. It is a surprising set of choices, but based entirely on objective analysis based on growth rates and wealth in comparison to competing companies in a similar market. He looks at Abbott Laboratories, which outperformed other companies in a similar field at a rate of 4 to 1, Fannie Mae, which outperformed other companies at 7.56 to 1, Gillette at 7.39 to 1, Kimberly-Clark at 3.42 to 1, Kroger at 4.17 times the market, Nucor at 5.16, Phillip Norris at 7.06, Pitney Bowes at 7.16, Walgreens at 7.36, Wells Fargo at 3.99, and finally, Circuit City, which outperformed the market at a rate of 18.5 to 1. Thus, by distinguishing the great companies and analysing them in a systemic and rigorous way, Collins hoped to dissect exactly what patterns emerged and how these companies correlate in their business models and philosophies, reaching conclusions about how the company ends up not only being great, but also being consistently great over a period of decades. The book acts as a prequel to Jim Collins other book, Built to Last, which he touches on in this work. He argues that a company that is solely built around the machinations of one, egotistic leader may boost revenues for a company temporarily, but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the company itself is a great company. Although this is contentious, he argues that a great company can survive any number of changes to its personnel, because the people who work for the companies in question, are screened as the right people. There have been many instances of a company that has folded due to the resignation or (at times) the deliberate sabotage of a company prior to the departure of a big CEO. The companies that he distinguishes as great don’t have leaders of this ilk, but instead have a complete business policy and strategy built around Jim Collins’ carefully and systemically accrued theories about how to make a company great and for it to remain so. In searching for this, he talks about “Level 5” leaders, who, he argues, unlike the egotistical and self-serving bosses that tend to grab the limelight, are modest, even shy individuals who rarely get the attention that they deserve or even want.

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