Have you ever felt that your business is inert? Cannot differentiate yourself from the competition?
Or do you realize that there are aspects within your strategic planning that can be optimized?
If any of these perceptions are part of your reality, this book can help you.
In it, the author Jim Collins basically seeks to answer a question: "What makes a company stop being a good company to become an excellent company?"
About the book
The book "Good to Great," presents the results of a five-year study by author Jim Collins and his team.
They identified companies that achieved lasting success after years of poor performance and isolated the factors that differentiate these companies from their competitors.
From this, a model was developed to make a medium-sized company stand out in its market. This model is explained in detail throughout the 9 chapters of the book.
In addition, if you want to know all the details of the book, the complete edition is available for purchase at the link: Good to Great
About the Author
Jim Collins also wrote, "How the Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give in” and was the co-author of the best selling business "Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies". He also contributes publications to the "Harvard Business Review" and "Businessweek".
For whom is this book suitable?
The content of the book is perfect for executives, investors, and managers interested in transforming the level of their organization.
It can also help entrepreneurs who already want to start their business by applying best management practices and strategy.
Finally, anyone with an interest in good corporate culture, leadership practices, and strategic planning techniques can benefit greatly from the work of Jim Collins.
Main ideas of the book
The highlights of the book are:
Success depends on the joint action of three factors: disciplined people, with disciplined thoughts taking disciplined actions;
Leaders play a key role in transforming a company;
The foundation for success is the right people in the right places;
It is necessary to find the ideal activity of the company so that it trails a clear path to excellence, is what the author calls the concept of the hedgehog;
A well-established corporate culture is essential.
In this summary, we will explain the 3 aspects that the author defines for a great company: disciplined people, disciplined thoughts and disciplined actions.
So, how about starting for what matters? Let’s go!
Overview: First Aspect - Disciplined People
In this early part of the book, the author explains the importance of people in transforming business. This segment is divided into two chapters: Level 5 Leadership and "First Who, Then What", discussed below:
Level 5 Leadership
Contrary to what you might imagine, not every leader who can transform a company is that outgoing manager with a strong personality and known by all, practically a celebrity.
In fact, the author's research team was shocked to realize that the best leaders can be discreet, reserved and even shy!
Collins defines the key characteristics that successful leaders share, forming what he calls "Level 5 Leadership":
They are modest and humble;
Focus more on your team's success than on your own success;
They are unshakable;
His ambition is focused on the company's goals, not his personal growth.
According to the author, a level 5 leader is "an individual who combines extreme personal humility with an intense professional will."
First who, then what?
Probably you've heard the phrase "people are the biggest asset of a company". It makes a lot of sense since employee appreciation is essential to the success of an organization.
However, the author believes that this sentence is incomplete. Therefore, he makes a small - but fundamental - change: according to him, "the right people are the biggest asset of a company".
Research led by Jim Collins has shown that companies that have raised their heights have set up their dream team (who) before making strategic decisions (what).
The author does a metaphor with a bus: first, you have to put all the right people on the bus, then take away those that do not fit to start driving the vehicle.
Overview: Second Aspect - Disciplined Thoughts
With the ideal team on board, the next step in making a great company is to work on the employee mindset.
This segment of the book speaks of the need to be realistic and explains what the author calls the "hedgehog concept". Stay with me and you'll understand it all:
Be realistic but never lose hope
Collins emphasizes the importance of being "brutally" honest when encountering a difficult situation. You have to accept the reality to overcome the challenges that appear.
Thinking about it, the author suggests some tips for dealing with difficult situations:
As a leader, involve your employees with questions;
Use the dialogue as the main strategy to analyze the problem;
Listen to the opinions of everyone involved;
Build alert mechanisms capable of identifying emerging problems;
Never give people false hopes, it will only discourage them.
The concept of the hedgehog
Based on a Greek fable, Collins defines excellent companies as hedgehogs: they are simple creatures who only know how to do one thing and focus on this thing.
Companies that do not reach this level of excellence are defined by the author as foxes: full of skill and capacity, but without consistency and focus. So, would you rather your company be a fox or a hedgehog?
In other words, successful companies focus on what is essential and ignore everything that does not bring sustainable results.
To apply this teaching, the author explains that the most important is to identify in your company what is capable of being the best. The diagram of three circles can facilitate this task:
Source: created by the author
Overview: Third Aspect - Disciplined actions
Finally, the last aspect of the model talks about the way in which actions should be carried out within a company with the purpose to be successful.
This section of the book is divided into two parts, named "Culture of Discipline” and “Technology Accelerators":
Culture of Discipline
Jim believes that building a culture causes disciplined people to take disciplined action, always with the goal of maintaining the company excellent in its main activity.
A well-assembled team facilitates the creation of an excellent corporate culture because members are better aligned with the organization's vision and values.
To create a culture, the author suggests some practices:
Allow freedom and responsibility, this inspires the creativity and greater effort of employees;
Focus on the concept of the hedgehog, your ideal activity is the key to success;
Create a list of what you should not do, this ensures that people do not waste time on irrelevant activities.
These days it is impossible for a company to succeed without the help of technology. But that does not mean that you should embrace any innovation that comes on the market.
Collins explains in the book that the best organizations know how to study the latest technologies and look for those that fit their core business (again, the hedgehog concept comes into play).
According to the author, once the innovation is identified, an excellent company manages to be a pioneer in the application of this new technology, creating a new market trend.
Okay, but how can I apply this in my life?
With the "Business Made to Win" analysis, you can see how leaders are influential in the journey to excellence, everything starts with efficient and engaging leadership practices.
The importance of the hedgehog concept, which defines the activity in which the company must focus to be successful within its reality, is also evident.
Finally, it is clear the relationship of the well structured corporate culture with the level of excellence of the organization, since it is the one that defines the guidelines to be taken in the daily life of the corporation.
What do you think?
Did you like the summary? Leave your feedback!
In addition, the complete edition of the book is available for purchase below:
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