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Good to Great

Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't

By Jim Collins
15-minute read
Audio available
Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't by Jim Collins

Good to Great (2001) presents the findings of a five-year study by the author and his research team. The team identified public companies that had achieved enduring success after years of mediocre performance and isolated the factors which differentiated those companies from their lackluster competitors.

These factors have been distilled into key concepts regarding leadership, culture and strategic management.

  • Executives, investors and managers interested in taking their company from mediocrity to greatness
  • Entrepreneurs who want to make their start-up great from the very beginning
  • Anyone interested in what makes for great leadership, great corporate culture and great strategic planning

Jim Collins is an author, lecturer and consultant, who among other things, has taught at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business and is a frequent contributor to FortuneBusinessWeek and Harvard Business Review. His previous book Built to Last sold over 4 million copies.

The author was inspired to write Good to Great when a business acquaintance pointed out that his previous book examined only how great companies stay great, not how they can become that way in the first place. 

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Good to Great

Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't

By Jim Collins
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't by Jim Collins
Synopsis

Good to Great (2001) presents the findings of a five-year study by the author and his research team. The team identified public companies that had achieved enduring success after years of mediocre performance and isolated the factors which differentiated those companies from their lackluster competitors.

These factors have been distilled into key concepts regarding leadership, culture and strategic management.

Key idea 1 of 9

Finding a simple “Hedgehog concept“ provides a clear path to follow.

Imagine a cunning fox hunting a hedgehog, coming up with a plethora of surprise attacks and sneaky tactics each day to devour the tasty critter. The hedgehog’s response is always the same: curl up in a spiky, unbreachable ball. Its adherence to this simple strategy is the reason the hedgehog prevails day after day.

Good-to-great companies all found their own simple Hedgehog concept by asking themselves three key questions:

What can we be the best in the world at?

What can we be passionate about?

What is the key economic indicator we should concentrate on?

At the intersection of the questions, after an average of four years of iteration and debate, good-to-great companies eventually discovered their own simple Hedgehog concept. After that point, every decision in the company was made in line with it, and success followed.

Consider the drugstore chain Walgreens. They decided simply that they would be the best, most convenient drugstore with a high customer profit per visit. This was their Hedgehog concept, and by pursuing it relentlessly they outperformed the general stock market by a factor of seven.

Their competitor, Eckerd Pharmacy, lacked a simple Hedgehog concept and grew sporadically in several misguided directions, eventually ceasing to exist as an independent company.

Finding a simple “Hedgehog concept“ provides a clear path to follow.

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