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Good to Great. By Jim Collins

•The good-to-great companies faced just as much adversity as the comparison companies, but responded to that adversity differently.  They hit the realities of their situation head-on.  As a result, they emerged from adversity even stronger.


•Leadership does not begin just with vision.  It begins with getting people to confront the brutal facts and to act on the implications.


•Spending time and energy trying to motivate people is a waste of effort.  The real question is not, How do we motivate our people?  If you have the right people, they will be self-motivated.  The key is to not de-motivate them.  One of the primary ways to de-motivate people is to ignore the brutal facts of reality.



















•The good-to-great companies are more like hedgehogssimple, dowdy creatures that know one big thing and stick to it.  The comparison companies are more like foxescrafty, cunning creatures that know many things yet lack consistency.


•A culture of discipline is not just about action.  It is about getting disciplined people who engage in disciplined thought and who then take disciplined action.


•Those inside the good-to-great companies were often unaware of the magnitude of their transformation at the time; only later, in retrospect, did it become clear.  They had no name, tag line, launch event, or program to signify what they were doing at the time.


•It wasnt a blinding flash or sudden revelation from above.  These things dont happen overnight.  They grow.  It wasnt a single switch that was thrown at one time.


•Great vision with mediocre people still produces mediocre results.


•After 5 years of research, Im absolutely convinced that if we just focus our attention on the right thingsand stop doing the senseless things that consume so much time and energywe can create a powerful Flywheel Effect without increasing the number of hours we work.


•The fact that something is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is irrelevant, unless it fits within your organizations focused Hedgehog strategy.  A great company will have many once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.


•The Hedgehog ConceptFocused vs. scattered.  Simple vs. complex.  Figure out what you can be the best in the world at and have clarity of purpose to go for it.  Fanatical consistency.


•A Culture of DisciplineWhen you have disciplined people and disciplined thought you dont need bureaucracy.  When you have disciplined action, you dont need excessive controls.  When you combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get the magical alchemy of great performance.


•Technology Accelerators: Good to great companies never use technology as the primary means of igniting a transformation.  Yet, paradoxically, they are pioneers in the application of carefully selected technologies.


•The Flywheel and the Doom Loop: There was no single defining action, no grand program, no one killer innovation, no solitary lucky break, no miracle moment.  Rather, the process resembled relentlessly pushing a giant heavy flywheel in one direction, turn upon turn, building momentum until a point of breakthrough, and beyond.


•When managers are reviewing current people they should ask themselves: If this was a new hiring decision, would I hire this person?


•Invest as much time in making stop doing lists as you do in making to do lists.


•Window & Mirror theory of leadershipCredit others for fortune and look in the mirror for misfortune.  Level 5 leaders look out the window to attribute success to factors other than themselves.  When things go poorly, however, they look in the mirror and blame themselves, taking full responsibility.


•Put your best people on your best opportunities, not on your biggest problems.


•You can accomplish anything in life, provided that you do not mind who gets the credit.  Harry S. Truman


•If you have the right people on the bus, the problem of how to motivate and manage people largely goes away.  The right people dont need to be tightly managed or fired up; they will be self-motivated by the inner drive to produce the best results and to be part of creating something great.


•The comparison companies frequently followed the genius with a thousand helpers modela genius leader who sets a vision and then enlists a crew of highly capable helpers to make the vision happen.  This model fails when the genius departs.


•Good-to-great management teams consist of people who debate vigorously in search of the best answers, yet who unify behind decisions, regardless of parochial interests.


•Creating a climate where the truth is heard involves four basic practices:

oLead with questions, not answers

oEngage in dialogue and debate, not coercion

oConduct autopsies, without blame

oBuild red flag mechanisms that turn information into information that cannot be ignored


•Start with 1,435 good companies.  Examine their performance over 40 years.  Find the 11 companies that became great.  These 11 companies outperformed the market 6.9 times for 15 consecutive years.


•The 11 great companies:  Abbott, Circuit City, Fannie Mae, Gillette, Kimberly-Clark, Kroger, Nucor, Philip Morris, Pitney Bowes, Walgreens, Wells Fargo.


•Good is the enemy of great.  And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great.


•7 Key Points of the book:

oLevel 5 Leadership

oFirst WhoThen What

oConfront the Brutal Facts

oThe Hedgehog Concept (Focus)

oA Culture of Discipline

oTechnology Accelerators

oThe Flywheel and the Doom Loop


•Level 5 Leaders: Self-effacing, quiet, reserved, even shythese leaders are a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.  They are more like Lincoln and Socrates than Patton or Caesar.


•The central question of a great leader: What is the motive of your ambition, ambition for the cause or ambition for self-interest?  We live in a culture where 95% of all leaders lead for themselves.


•Great leaders increase their questions rather than statements.


•The good-to-great companies did not focus principally on what to do to become great; they focused equally on what not to do and what to stop doing.


•The companies that made the list had more to do with simplifying and focusing more so than growing their to do lists.


•The most common characteristic in leaders of this group was HUMILITY.


•First Who, Then What: Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seatsand then they figured out where to drive it.


•Confront the Brutal Facts.  The Stockdale Paradox: You must maintain unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, and at the same time have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.


Making the Leap


You must maintain unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, and at the same time have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.

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