Cover image for Good to great : why some companies make the leap-- and others don't
Good to great : why some companies make the leap-- and others don't
Collins, James C. (James Charles), 1958-
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperBusiness, [2001]

Physical Description:
xii, 300 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
General Note:
On cover: title runs from back cover to cover.
Format :


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HD57.7 .C645 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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HD57.7 .C645 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
HD57.7 .C645 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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HD57.7 .C645 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
HD57.7 .C645 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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The Challenge
Built to Last, the defining management study of the nineties, showed how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the verybeginning.

But what about the company that is not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness?

The Study
For years, this question preyed on the mind of Jim Collins. Are there companies that defy gravity and convert long-term mediocrity or worse into long-term superiority? And if so, what are the universal distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great?

The Standards
Using tough benchmarks, Collins and his research team identified a set of elite companies that made the leap to great results and sustained those results for at least fifteen years. How great? After the leap, the good-to-great companies generated cumulative stock returns that beat the general stock market by an average of seven times in fifteen years, better than twice the results delivered by a composite index of the world's greatest companies, including Coca-Cola, Intel, General Electric, and Merck.

The Comparisons
The research team contrasted the good-to-great companies with a carefully selected set of comparison companies that failed to make the leap from good to great. What was different? Why did one set of companies become truly great performers while the other set remained only good?

Over five years, the team analyzed the histories of all twenty-eight companies in the study. After sifting through mountains of data and thousands of pages of interviews, Collins and his crew discovered the key determinants of greatness -- why some companies make the leap and others don't.

The Findings
The findings of the Good to Great study will surprise many readers and shed light on virtually every area of management strategy and practice. The findings include:

Level 5 Leaders: The research team was shocked to discover the type of leadership required to achieve greatness. The Hedgehog Concept (Simplicity within the Three Circles): To go from good to great requires transcending the curse of competence. A Culture of Discipline: When you combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get the magical alchemy of great results. Technology Accelerators: Good-to-great companies think differently about the role of technology. The Flywheel and the Doom Loop: Those who launch radical change programs and wrenching restructurings will almost certainly fail to make the leap.

"Some of the key concepts discerned in the study," comments Jim Collins, "fly in the face of our modern business culture and will, quite frankly, upset some people."

Perhaps, but who can afford to ignore these findings?

Author Notes

Jim Collins holds B.S. and M.B.A. degrees from Stanford University. A visiting professor of business administration at Stanford Graduate School of Business, he is a management consultant. He has written several articles for the Harvard Business Review, Inc., Fortune magazine, California Management Review and Stanford Magazine.

He is the co-author of Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies; Managing the Small to Mid-Sized Firm: Readings, Cases and Instructor's Manual; Beyond Entrepreneurship; and Great by Choice. He has also worked with Hewlett Packard and McKinsey & Co.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Collins is coauthor of Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (1994), the widely heralded book that was the result of a six-year research project conducted by Collins and Jerry Porras. They identified 18 companies that met their rigorous standard for long-term performance. They looked for companies that had outperformed the stock market by a factor of 15 starting from 1926. Then they went about the task of identifying what these companies had in common. Now Collins turns his attention to companies that have made the transition from "good to great." This time the findings are backed by five years of research and data analysis. Starting with every company that ever appeared in the Fortune 500, Collins identifies 11 companies that had 15-year cumulative stock returns at or below the general stock market when, after a transition point, they then demonstrated cumulative returns of at least three times the market over the next 15 years. Collins then looked for similarities among the companies. What he found would both surprise and fascinate anyone involved in management. --David Rouse

Publisher's Weekly Review

In what Collins terms a prequel to the bestseller Built to Last he wrote with Jerry Porras, this worthwhile effort explores the way good organizations can be turned into ones that produce great, sustained results. To find the keys to greatness, Collins's 21-person research team (at his management research firm) read and coded 6,000 articles, generated more than 2,000 pages of interview transcripts and created 384 megabytes of computer data in a five-year project. That Collins is able to distill the findings into a cogent, well-argued and instructive guide is a testament to his writing skills. After establishing a definition of a good-to-great transition that involves a 10-year fallow period followed by 15 years of increased profits, Collins's crew combed through every company that has made the Fortune 500 (approximately 1,400) and found 11 that met their criteria, including Walgreens, Kimberly Clark and Circuit City. At the heart of the findings about these companies' stellar successes is what Collins calls the Hedgehog Concept, a product or service that leads a company to outshine all worldwide competitors, that drives a company's economic engine and that a company is passionate about. While the companies that achieved greatness were all in different industries, each engaged in versions of Collins's strategies. While some of the overall findings are counterintuitive (e.g., the most effective leaders are humble and strong-willed rather than outgoing), many of Collins's perspectives on running a business are amazingly simple and commonsense. This is not to suggest, however, that executives at all levels wouldn't benefit from reading this book; after all, only 11 companies managed to figure out how to change their B grade to an A on their own. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Collins follows his successful Built To Last (coauthor, with Jerry Porras), which showed how companies triumph over time, with this extensive analysis of how good, mediocre, and even bad companies can achieve enduring greatness. Collins led a research team of 21 members who analyzed data on 1,435 companies, looking for the few that made substantial improvements in their performance over time. The 11 featured businesses, which earned the "good-to-great" label, outperformed the market by a multiple of at least three over a 15-year period and were able to sustain their success for at least 15 years. They include Circuit City, Fannie Mae, Kimberly Clark, Phillip Morris, and Wells Fargo. The author reveals common traits that distinguish these companies from comparison firms that failed to reach a similar level of success. Collins's deeply earnest narration is heightened by his obvious zeal for the material, further enhancing this solid content that will likely have more staying power than Tom Peters's In Search of Excellence. Highly recommended for larger public libraries and university libraries supporting a business curriculum.-Dale Farris, Groves, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

This sequel to Collins and Jerry Porras's Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (3rd ed., 2000) is the result of a five-year, team-based research effort that examined the critical factors that distinguish good companies from truly great companies. Employing a rigorous, multifaceted methodology, the author identified 11 companies that follow a basic pattern: 15-year cumulative stock returns at or below the general stock market, punctuated by a transition point, then cumulative returns at least three times the market over the next 15 years. Based on his extensive research, Collins presents a three factor, six-element model to identify characteristic traits of the truly great companies: disciplined people, disciplined thought, and disciplined action. He addresses a seventh notion--the flywheel--as the overarching factor that catapults a company from just good to truly great. The author concludes by comparing and analyzing the concepts in Built to Last with those presented in this current volume. Extensive appendixes and notes provide supplemental documentation supporting Collins's research-based thesis. Faculty and upper-division undergraduate and graduate students will find this work a useful adjunct to business strategy courses. M. J. Safferstone Mary Washington College

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Prefacep. xiii
1 Good Is the Enemy of Greatp. 1
2 Level 5 Leadershipp. 17
3 First Who ... Then Whatp. 41
4 Confront the Brutal Facts (Yet Never Lose Faith)p. 65
5 The Hedgehog Concept (Simplicity within the Three Circles)p. 90
6 A Culture of Disciplinep. 120
7 Technology Acceleratorsp. 144
8 The Flywheel and the Doom Loopp. 164
9 From Good to Great to Built to Lastp. 188
Epilogue: Frequently Asked Questionsp. 211
Research Appendicesp. 219
Notesp. 261
Indexp. 287