What were some of the most shocking / memorable incidents you can recollect since the last 10 years?
• The Financial Meltdown? Lehman Brothers? Billions getting wiped out?
• The iPod, iPad, iPhone revolution?
A lot has happened in the last 10 years.
Giants who were invincible are now forever invisible.
The corporations with abundant financial health are today on a dying life support system.
The mortal legends whom we always remembered have become the immortal legacies we will never forget.
So much has changed I must add.
And that is what Jim Collins book ‘Great by Choice’ does – recount, recollect and remember those companies, corporations and conglomerates that have survived, sustained and synchronized their way to success.
In his classic fashion of an exhaustive research of reviewing 20,400 companies with 7,000 historical documents and cutting them down to 11 fixed criterions, Jim along with Morten Hansen – a faculty member at Harvard Business School spare no effort in coming up with bold new theories and thought provoking concepts.
The foundation of this book is based on the following premise:
• Uncertainty is permanent,
• The worst will always be round the corner,
• Chaotic times are normal,
• Sudden great fortune is always dangerous
• Change is accelerating,
• Instability will characterize the rest of our lives
The central question this book adopts:
• Why do some thrive in the face of immense uncertainty, and others do not?
The book boils down to three core behaviors:
1. Fanatic Discipline:
• Consistent action based on core values, goals, and methods.
• They are consistent in their commitment to growth.
• It is a never ending process, month after month, year after year.
2. Empirical Creativity:
• It is based on direct observation.
• The metaphor of firing ‘bullets’ in the dark, and once you get the target in sight, fire canon ball.
3. Productive Paranoia:
• Always prepare for the worst
• The only assurance you can expect is tough times.
The companies studied for this book were:
• Progressive Insurance,
• Southwest Airlines,
• PSA and
• United States Surgical.
Among the many interesting findings in this book, he also comes up with a few great concepts.
• 10x companies
• Level 5 Leader
• 20 Mile March
• The interesting story of Roald Amusdsen versus Robert Falcon Scott (October 1911 life-threatening adventure) to reach the south pole.
• The amazing story telling description of the May 1999 Malcolm Daly and Jim Donini episode
• The brilliant though provoking analysis related to ‘Luck and Return on Luck’.
The only drawback (don’t know if you can call it so) to Jim Collins work:
• Is that among the 11 featured companies mentioned in ‘Good to Great’ – Circuit City and Fannie Mae are nearly bankrupt.
• Great Leaders are humble – well was, Mr. Steve Jobs a ‘humble leader’? (The answer is – NO WAY!)
Now though these two points by itself are completely and totally negligible by any standards, I must add that given Jim’s incredible ability to really capture the imagination of its readers by the fantastic mind-boggling research and study, you will realize Collins books take the role of being more on the descriptive rather than a prescriptive side of explanations.
And description is not prescription therefore is not the solution.
This book is not a ‘how to’ book, nor one that provides the magic recipe that can solve problems. Rather just a brief study of what made these companies or individuals stand the test of time.
Even after working so hard to find a flaw in his book. I would say this is yet among the many books that I have read and keep reading, a master-piece in research and study. Though when I compare it to the standards Jim has set for himself – not the greatest or ground breaking as its predecessors, yet formidable enough to retain the title of greatness.
Given his brilliance, I am sure, no matter what happens in the next coming 10 years, given all the tragedies, unpredictable events and horrors we may encounter, Jim will always stand out as a great intellect, author and researcher.
As usual, I loved his book.
Overall rating – A well deserved 9.5 out of 10.”