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Good to Great:  Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t

Author: Jim Collins, 2001

The book draws many conclusions about what it takes to become a great company.  Contrary to the management trends, it does NOT take larger-than-life leaders, a better strategy, mergers and acquisitions, change management or motivational programs or initiatives.  Instead it takes a steady focus and persistence on disciplined people (Level 5 Leadership, First Who…Then What,) Disciplined Thought (Confront the Brutal Facts, Hedgehog Concept), and Disciplined Action (Culture of Discipline, Technology Accelerators) that create a breakthrough that is sustained over time (The Flywheel vs. The Doom Loop.) The most important point is that these key management, organizational and cultural practices are all learnable, practical and doable.  

One of my personal favorites is the observation that great companies “Confront the Brutal Facts” through creating a climate where “truth” can be heard.  Such deceptively simple practices as leading with questions and not answers, engaging in dialogue and debate, conducting “post-mortems” without blame are commonplace in great companies.

While published ten years ago, this well researched and well written book remains extremely relevant today.  Anyone who wants to build a great team or organization (CEOs, managers, human resource professionals) would benefit by reading this book.  The seven key practices can be used to diagnose an organization or company as well as to provide a roadmap for building a great organization.