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.
Jim Collins’s previous best seller Built to Last explains how great companies sustain high performance and stay great. Most companies, however, are not great. Hence the more burning question: How do companies go from good to great? What do they do differently from their competitors who stay mediocre at best?
To answer these questions, Jim Collins and his research team studied three groups of public US companies in a five-year project:
Good-to-great companies, which had been performing at or below the average stock market performance for 15 years, before making a transition to “greatness,” in other words generating cumulative returns of at least three times the general stock market over the next 15 years.
Direct comparison companies, which remained mediocre or dwindled although they had roughly the same possibilities as the good-to-great companies during the time of transition.
Unsustained comparison companies, which made a short-lived transition from good-to-great, but slid back to performing at a level substantially below the stock market average after their rise.
Over the course of their research, Collins and his team examined over 6,000 press articles and 2,000 pages of executive interviews. The goal was to discover what the good-to-great companies had done differently, and thus help other companies make the same leap.
Good-to-great companies can teach others how to make the same leap.