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Great by Choice

Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck – Why Some Thrive Despite Them All

By Jim Collins & Morten T. Hansen
13-minute read
Audio available
Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck – Why Some Thrive Despite Them All by Jim Collins & Morten T. Hansen

The world is an uncertain place, constantly changing and often chaotic. While many companies are unable to survive in this chaos, some companies are not only able to survive in these shifting conditions but even thrive in them. Great by Choice analyses why these companies succeed while most others fail. 

Great By Choice is the result of exhaustive, in-depth research into the business environment. It argues that success is not the result of a company being more innovative, bold or open to taking risks, nor is it a result of mere luck or chance. Success in fact comes from a mixture of discipline, evidence-based innovation and a fear of failure that borders on paranoia. It is this recipe, rather than luck, which enables certain companies to become great.

  • Anyone looking for the secrets of long-term success in business
  • Anyone wanting to know the role that luck or chance plays in achieving success
  • Anyone wanting to know how great companies thrive even in turbulent environments 

Jim Collins is a business consultant and author of many bestsellers including Good to Great and Built to Last. His books have sold over ten millions copies worldwide. He now operates a management laboratory where he conducts research and teaches.

Morten T. Hansen is a management professor at the University of California. He is the author of Collaboration: How Leaders Avoid the Traps, Build Common Ground and Reap Big Results.  He consults and gives talks for companies across the globe.

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Great by Choice

Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck – Why Some Thrive Despite Them All

By Jim Collins & Morten T. Hansen
  • Read in 13 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 8 key ideas
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Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck – Why Some Thrive Despite Them All by Jim Collins & Morten T. Hansen
Synopsis

The world is an uncertain place, constantly changing and often chaotic. While many companies are unable to survive in this chaos, some companies are not only able to survive in these shifting conditions but even thrive in them. Great by Choice analyses why these companies succeed while most others fail. 

Great By Choice is the result of exhaustive, in-depth research into the business environment. It argues that success is not the result of a company being more innovative, bold or open to taking risks, nor is it a result of mere luck or chance. Success in fact comes from a mixture of discipline, evidence-based innovation and a fear of failure that borders on paranoia. It is this recipe, rather than luck, which enables certain companies to become great.

Key idea 1 of 8

Companies that thrive in uncertainty rely on discipline, evidence-based innovation and preparedness based on paranoia.

The future is unknown. No one can accurately predict what will happen in the coming months let alone years or decades.

Yet, in these uncertain environments some companies not only survive, but thrive. To understand why, we need only to analyze the practices of the so-called 10X companies: highly successful companies that outperformed their industry average by at least a factor of ten.

So what is the secret to their success?

Like the Arctic explorer Roald Amundsen, 10Xers ensure they are prepared for any event or conditions by building up their knowledge and provisions.

This outlook is reflected in three core behaviors:

First, 10Xers display fanatic discipline. Discipline in this context does not mean everybody in the organization obeying orders but rather consistency in action. Once Amundsen had identified his route and created a schedule for reaching the pole, he never wavered from his plan. Likewise, once 10X leaders identify their goals and preferred methods, they stick to them doggedly.

Second, 10Xers use empirical creativity when making decisions. What matters is evidence. They aren’t interested in others’ opinions or following the established consensus, but in finding out what really works. Amundsen didn’t listen to the opinion of experts when deciding the location of his base camp; he studied the evidence himself and chose an area no one had previously considered. Similarly, 10Xers use evidence to help determine when and where they should innovate.

Finally Productive Paranoia helps 10Xers survive changes in their competitive environment. Their leaders remain hypervigilant; they are never comfortable but always fearful of what might go wrong. Amundsen ensured that he was prepared for the worst on his expedition. Likewise, 10Xers channel their fears to create policies that prepare their companies for difficult times.

Companies that thrive in uncertainty rely on discipline, evidence-based innovation and preparedness based on paranoia.

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