This follow-up to Built to Last has a lot more meat on its bones. I still quote passages from this book regularly, citing its timeless business analogies like “getting the right people on the bus”, “The Hedgehog Concept” (what can you be the best in the world at?), “Level 5 Leadership”, and “The Stockdale Paradox” (facing the brutal facts). This book really framed what business strategy could look like in practice. I just can’t believe I only had one professor talk about Jim Collins during my 5 years at a business school. Weird.
Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life. -Jim Collins
It’s not all hard hitting business acumen, he does have a nice moment when he talks about meaningful work.
For, in the end, it is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life. And it is very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work.
Beware of bureaucracy
The purpose of bureaucracy is to compensate for incompetence and lack of discipline. -Jim Collins
You don’t want to manage people. You must fight this urge. Managing people only helps ego, not the company. The best people don’t need to be managed.
The moment you feel the need to tightly manage someone, you’ve made a hiring mistake. The best people don’t need to be managed. Guided, taught, led—yes. But not tightly managed. -Jim Collins
The Stockdale Paradox – one of the most important, if not the most important, lessons from Good to Great.
A key psychology for leading from good to great is the Stockdale Paradox: Retain absolute 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 your current reality, whatever they might be.
Early on in business, I’d tell myself that as long as I stayed with my head above the water, I’d keep breathing. Starting and running a business isn’t easy and it’s not supposed to be. If you can come to the understanding that business is hard and that’s why it’s so fun, you’ll go much further than you ever thought possible. As long as you are determined never to give up, you can achieve some remarkable feats.