I am reminded that just like homes, which hold feelings of affection and fondness because we are committed to them, success likewise, is born from the most sincere devotion. Jim Collins’, in his 2001 Bestseller, “Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t”, gives a researched account of how some good companies outperform the growth of their respective industries and other comparison companies meander as merely good companies.
He outlines something that is not necessarily a process but more of a set of present elements that together accompany organizations that go from Good to Great:
Level 5 Leadership:
These paradoxical leaders who combine “personal humility” and professional will” tend to be at the helm of Good to Great companies. They are often shy, and reserved, yet have an ability materialize their desired objectives.
First Who… Then What:
Personnel come before vision and strategy. Having the right people is the core asset.
Confront the Brutal Facts (Yet Never Lose Faith):
Stockdale Paradox: They must maintain unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, and at the same time confront the most brutal facts of their reality.
The Hedgehog Concept: (the 3 concentric circles above)
Transcending the curse of competence. Just because something represented their core business didn’t mean they could be the best in the world at it. If a company cannot be the best at their core business then the core business cannot make the basis of a great company.
A Culture of Discipline:
When there are disciplined people hierarchy is unnecessary. When there is disciplined thought bureaucracy is unneeded. When there are disciplined actions, there is no need for excessive controls. Ultimately, a culture of discipling and an ethic of entrepreneurship results in great performance.
They never use technology as a means of igniting transformation, but the do pioneer the application of carefully selected technologies.
There are two other elements that Collin’s list, but it suffices to say that at the intersections of sincere passion, carefully crafted skill, and economic feasibility there is a pure intentionality that (if infused into a business’ DNA from leadership to people, processes and strategies) can achieve and sustain competitive greatness.
At times I’m tempted to think that becoming good at a plethora of things is a great way to spend my time. But the difference between good and excellent is a certain obsessive-singularity of purpose and intention.
There is a steady supply of good in the world… but greatness is always in high demand.