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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must For All Managers
I read an article by Sir Clive Woodward and he recommended this book, along with others, as one managers should read. I'm usually sceptical on recommendations, especially those with an American slant. However, its spot on. If only all managers would take a few leaf's out of this book and apply it in their daily routine/workplace, it would make working life much...
Published on 26 Oct 2004 by Mr. Neil Wilson

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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This book is Good but not Great
I was co-erced into reading this at work and as business books go its one of the better ones and I actually fully believe in the principles it sets out as a recipe for success.

The research and analysis has obviously been done well but at times, like a lot of academic work, the interpretation of data is subjective, leading to a few jumps in reasoning...
Published on 6 April 2008 by Eclectic Reader


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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must For All Managers, 26 Oct 2004
By 
This review is from: Good To Great (Hardcover)
I read an article by Sir Clive Woodward and he recommended this book, along with others, as one managers should read. I'm usually sceptical on recommendations, especially those with an American slant. However, its spot on. If only all managers would take a few leaf's out of this book and apply it in their daily routine/workplace, it would make working life much better.
The book is well structured, easy on the eye, provides excellent examples. Simple and effective concepts that can be easily applied to any size of company.
Any Manager/Executive should make this a number one priority in their reading list to help them improve themselves, their people and their company to be great!
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62 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting research and a 'How to' guide, 5 Jan 2003
By 
C. M. Perkins (Stirling, Scotland.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Good To Great (Hardcover)
I know I'm enjoying a business book when it provokes a reaction in me along the lines of "I've always sort of known that - and now I've got the evidence to prove it." This book did that for me all the way through.
The evidence is Collins' research, conducted over five years and focusing on eleven companies that met his team's criteria for 'Good to Great' ie: they went from average performance to outperforming the market and sustaining it for 15 years.
The research, and the book, shows a model that these eleven companies adhered to (although they were unaware of it at the time) that should, in theory, be possible to replicate in any other organisation to achieve greatness.
That is the appeal: the possibility that following this model, validated by the research, WILL lead to great performance. It's an extremely attractive prospect and one that my organisation has already taken steps to achieve.
Very rarely does a business book spark such an immediate and enthusiastic reaction throughout the team I am part of, but this book did. So far, much of Collins' language has become part of our vocabulary:
"First Who...Then What": the need to 'get the right people on the bus' before deciding strategy.
"Confront the Brutal Facts": get really clear on the current state of the organisation, being authentic with each other and 'telling it like it is'.
"The Flywheel": recognising that constant, small actions will build momentum for the transformation from Good to Great.
It all sounds achievable, the challenge is maintaining another of Collins' key requirements: Disciplined Action. Can we keep it up? For example, Collins' research showed that it took these eleven organisations an average of four years to *really* discover the uniqueness in their product/service offering and capitalise on it.
That said, they didn't know at the time they were transforming themselves from Good to Great, and didn't have Collins' roadmap to help them on their way - so we're hoping we can discover our uniqueness a little quicker.
This is a fascinating piece of research and a practical tool for improving organisational performance.
If you're concerned about reading this book and discovering what you need to do in your organisation, but then feel unable to implement it, I would recommend 'The Knowing-Doing Gap' by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton. It's got some great ideas for overcoming this problem.
'Good to Great' acted as inspiration for us in discovering how we can achieve breakthrough levels of performance. I hope it does for you too.
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139 of 146 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Achieving and continuing spectacular business success, 3 July 2002
By 
Coert Visser "solutionfocusedchange.com" (Driebergen Netherlands) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Good To Great (Hardcover)
In 1994, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras wrote one of the most successful management books of the last decade: Built to Last. Collins and Porras had studied 18 visionairy companies, many of which had existed for 60 years or more. These companies had a strong focus on values and people and great ability to to learn and exchange knowledge. They gave less priority to maximalizing shareholder value but paradoxically outperformed the market enormously. In a conversation with Jim Collins, McKinsey director Bill Meehan said he, too, loved the book, but added: "Unfortunately, it's useless". He explained why. The companies featured in Built to Last had always been great companies. But because most companies are just good (not great) they are not interested in a book which shows how to stay great (Built to Last) but in a book that shows how to become great. The matter inspired Collins. He built a research team of 15 people and started a 5 year study.
The team tried to identify companies that had jumped from good to great and had managed to continue their great growth for at least 15 years. They found 11 of these (Abbott, Circuit City, Fannie Mae, Gilette, Kimberly-Clark, Kroger, Nucor, Philip Morris, Pitney Bowes, Walgreens, Wells Fargo). These good-to-great companies (GTG's) outperformed the market by a factor 6.9 in the 15 year period of the analysis! (General Electric outperformed the market 'only' by a factor 2.8 between 1985 and 2000).
The study focused on the question: what did the GTG's have in common that distinguished them from comparable companies in comparable circumstances? The GTG's were compared with two sets of other companies: 1) the direct-comparisons: companies within the same sector and in comparable circumstances, 2) the unsustained comparisons: companies that had had a breakthrough but that had not been able to continue their success. Collins intended to, from the ground up, build a theory which could explain the successful transformation of the GTG's.
As it turned out, all of the GTG's had a period of build up, preparation (often lasting many years) before the breakthrough moment. Three phases could be identified:
PHASE 1: DISCIPLINED PEOPLE
1. LEVEL 5 LEADERSHIP: contrary to the expectation, leaders of the GTG's turned out to be quiet, self effacing and even shy. At the same time, however, they were very determined. Mostly, they were leaders that came from within the company and that have remained unknown to the greater public.
2. FIRST WHO...THEN WHAT: also contrary to what you might expect was that GTG's first got the right people on the bus and the wrong people off and only then focused on strategic direction and vision.
PHASE 2: DISCIPLINED THOUGHT
3. CONFRONT THE BRUTAL FACTS (..BUT NEVER LOSE HOPE). Characteristic was a combination of realism and hope.
4. THE HEDGEHOG CONCEPT (SIMPLICITY IN THREE CIRCLES): just like a hedgehog, the GTG's seemed to have a very simple but effective success formula: all of the activities of the company had to lie within the intersection of the following three circles: 1) what can we become best in the world at? 2) what are we passionate about? 3) what can we make money with?
PHASE 3: DISCIPLINED ACTION
5. CULTURE OF DISCIPLINE: the GTG's turned out to have a culture of discipline that made hierarchy and bureaucracy largely superfluous.
6. TECHNOLOGY ACCELERATORS: none of the GTG's had technology as a cause of the success, but technology did play the role of accelerator of the success.
Collins rather convincingly demonstrates the validity of this model. All of the GTG's showed these practices throughout the 15 year period, while none of the direct comparisons did. The unsustained comparisons showed some of these practises often right until the moment of their decline.
Looking at the share price development of the GTG's, you might expect that there has been a clear marking point of the transformation because their share price stays rather flat at first (for many years) and then just suddenly takes off and keeps on going up. An important finding of the team was, however, that there were nó special change programs, and nó breakthrough decisions or products. On the contrary, the process evolved very fluently. To eplain, Collins uses the metaphor of the flying wheel. When you start to turn this wheel it goes heavily and moves slowly. But by continuously keeping on turning the wheel, it starts to build momentum and then, just suddenly, a point is reached at which the wheel turns at great speed without you having to turn it any harder than at first. Is this the practice of many companies? Not at all! The reality of many companies is nót consistently following a chosen path but rather swinging from one hype to another.
I think this research evokes one principal issue. That the concept 'great' is operationalized in a financial way is easily understood from a practical standpoint. This criterion is clear and rather easily obtained and makes it easy to compare the companies scientifically. But is 'great' the best word to describe spectacular financial success? Does their financial success necessarily make GTG's 'great'? Wouldn't that be like saying that Bill Gates en Silvio Berlusconi are great people while implying Martin Luther King and Mother Theresa are not?
But, having said that, demonstrating how companies achieve and continue spectacular financial success, in itself, is extremely interesting and valuable. This is a terrific book that, I think, has the quality to equal or perhaps even surpass the success of Built to Last. Unlike most management books (which contain creative but highly speculative ideas), the message of this book is based on well-designed research and mindful interpretation of results that is explained and justified terrifically. Despite this thoroughness, the book remains a pleasant read. A pity that the book does not offer some more practical suggestions to help readers get started. I think that would have made it even better.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This book is Good but not Great, 6 April 2008
By 
This review is from: Good To Great (Hardcover)
I was co-erced into reading this at work and as business books go its one of the better ones and I actually fully believe in the principles it sets out as a recipe for success.

The research and analysis has obviously been done well but at times, like a lot of academic work, the interpretation of data is subjective, leading to a few jumps in reasoning.

That said, you can't argue with much of it. Reading and understanding this book is easy, applying the theory to reality is much more difficult. Unless you are at the right level in an organisation with a team of committed colleagues who also subscribe to the same theory you will not reap the rewards but may end up frustrated.

Our organisation (FTSE 100) paid lip service to the principle within half of one business unit - but centres of excellence within an otherwise unfocused organisation can be unbalancing and rarely lift the whole company to excellence.

Some good lessons here for everyone and a great book to read if you're studying for your MBA but to be honest if you at the right level in an organisation to effect this scale of change this book will probably only serve to reinforce what you already know.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended, 27 Aug 2009
By 
Maximus "Max" (Geneva, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
This is a very useful book, and recommended reading for any senior exec, business owner. After 30 years in business I am pretty sure that Jim Collins et al's findings are spot on. How often have you seen a business where the ego of the owner that was once so valuable in the start up phase becomes a problem to the development of a business, where the wrong people are in the wrong Jobs. Having come into a business and been allowed to make changes by getting rid of the wrong people and replacing with the right I can only only say that the difference in the business is incredible. People come to me with solutions, not problems, I have to send them home or they would stay till 10pm the trick is now not to demotivate. Simple idea in the main but well worth taking note of and interesting analysis of the personality of the good to great leader, not what you would expect at all. Recommended
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Straight to the fundamentals, 25 Oct 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Good To Great (Hardcover)
Too many books (and managers) focus on details and techniques, while Jim Collins has instead identified through research the fundamental basics of great companies and why they are different to those who are simply good. Not only does this book appear well researched, but it also fits with the personal experience I have had in successful and less successful companies. A good manager selects and then works with a very capable team to build great results, rather than the often egocentric self-serving behaviour of many managers. The book presents the steps common to all the good companies who become great, it details how those steps were carried out in the different companies, however it does so in a way that is fascinating and not too long winded. I polled friends who have worked at some of these companies and they did indeed agree with the books finding.
This book has an interesting relationship to Jim's previous book "Built to Last" in that it shows how to turn a good company into a great one, while in many respects "Built to Last" is a sequel useful for maintaining that greatness.
Jim explains how the knowledge contained in the book can be applied to other purposes than simply building great companies, why not apply this guidance to your local sports team or other personal interests?
I thoroughly recommend this book and would certainly hope that it is read by all managers who are senior to me!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite business books, 29 Sep 2010
This review is from: Good To Great (Hardcover)
Of all the possible ways that you can make money in your business, only a few will make you truly great. At least that's the theory that Jim Collins talks about in his excellent book Good To Great. My favourite part is his hedgehog concept (stop reading here if you want to read this for yourself!).

What he talks about in the book is that those companies that make it to great (and not many get this accolade from him!) do so by having a `hedgehog' concept. The `hedgehog' concept comes from the parable of the Fox and the Hedgehog. Foxes know lots of small things; they rush around with new ideas trying to find ways to eat the hedgehog. Hedgehogs know one big thing and know it well - and that is how to roll up into a thorny ball to fool the fox. Jim Collins teaches us all great companies and great thinkers do one thing, they do it deliberately and with deep insight and understanding, they do it consistently and with discipline and it makes them very successful.

I love that he breaks this down for us into three components that any individual or business can apply:
Passions - what we love to do; Natural Abilities - he calls it genetic encoding - what we can be the best in the world at; and the Economic Driver - where the company can make money (or where we can add value as an individual).

This is a really accessible, well-written, original work. It's one of those books that I come backk to again and again when I need a bit of insipration - can't wait to get on to his next one!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The contemporary equivalent to 'In Search of Excellence', 29 Jun 2008
This review is from: Good To Great (Hardcover)
This strong text is the contemporary equivalent of 'In Search of Excellence' that every self-respecting manager had on their bookshelf during the 1980s. Time will tell if the conclusions of this book are any more reliable than Peters & Waterman's contribution.

The pretext of this book is 'how do you take a good company and make it great?' Finding case studies to answer this question is no easy task and the research team set about it by finding companies that performed at the industry average for 15 years, then outperformed the market for the next 15 years by a factor of 3:1.

The team then interview and investigate the companies themselves and come up with some interesting and thought provoking findings. Out of these investigations come some concepts that will have enduring impact on management discourse - the most notable of which is the concept of a Level 5 leader (a person combining personal humility with professional will).

So why not a 5 star rating? The one weakness is the relatively lightweight approach to case study. From an academic perspective, this book repeats the same mistake made by so many other studies - it interviews only senior managers and makes too much use of media reports (written by journalists who talk to senior managers). Whilst I appreciate the access issues, good quality case study work involves a wider range of people and the theoretical conclusions of this book may - like its 'excellent' predecessor - unravel due to a failure to investigate any views other than those of managers.

[Added 23rd March 2009] Since writing the original review (above), we have had the banking crisis. It is somewhat prophetic to mention that the book's finding may unravel due to a questionable case study design - Fannie Mae (one of the companies highlighted as a "great" company) was key player in the near collapse of banking systems worldwide. Secondly, it emerged during the banking crisis that the government owned 50% of Fannie Mae. Either this happened after 2002 (to prop it up?) or the authors fail to fully inform the reader how such a holding might improve the company's stock market performance.

With hindsight, the reports of these companies managing stock market perceptions by withholding full financial information takes on a new relevance. Secondly, the tone of "getting the right people on board" smacks of the unitary management philosophy so often associated with failure.

Still a good read, but the gloss has gone and the historical context needs noting.

Dr Rory Ridley-Duff
Senior Lecturer
Sheffield Hallam University
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for anyone striving for greatness!, 29 Sep 2005
This review is from: Good To Great (Audio CD)
Simply brilliant! I can't recommend this audio recording (or the book) highly enough. Collins, in his unique and enthusiastic way, presents a nosey insight into how good companies have become great ones. He provides fascinating FACTS that allow us to recognise what is likely to achieve greatness and what isn't. The recording contains key concepts and analysis on leadership ("Level 5"), corporate strategy (The 3 Circles) and many others.
This recording, along with Arbinger's "Leadership and Self-Deception - Getting out of the Box", should be compulsory listening/reading for all business students as well as those who manage companies.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent advice, 10 Dec 2010
This review is from: Good To Great (Hardcover)
Lots of decent advice in this and if you do follow the behaviours that it advises you to do, you will do well.

However as demonstrated in books such as the "Halo effect" and others the methodology is very flawed.
Also many of the featured firms failed dreadfully soon after publication.
As long as you don't take this book too seriously, it is quite helpful.
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Good To Great
Good To Great by Jim Collins (Hardcover - 4 Oct 2001)
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