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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 3 April 2017
Another hit by Jim Collins - although shorter than usual for his books.

As usual Jim condenses years of his teams research into something that our mortal minds can understand, using his unique mix of framework thinking and empirical research to build a case thats easy to follow and apply in your business (or see in other businesses).

Perhaps not as great as Built to Last or Good to Great (and perhaps a lot shorter - but in some ways that makes it a lot easier to get through!)
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on 13 June 2017
Any excellent book and a great follow on from Good to Great. 5*
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on 28 February 2012
I'm a huge fan of the work of Jim Collins and can say with all honesty that 'Good to Great' still ranks as the most useful business / management book that I've ever read.

However (you could feel that was coming), his current book 'Great by Choice' is just too complicated to listen to / read.

It is packed to the brim with models, examples, cross-references, more examples, and cliché after cliché after cliché, all of which distract you from the core messages - which are extremely valuable and helpful to anyone in business.

In my opinion this book is a complete contrast to the smooth, calm, logical and clear delivery that everyone remembers from 'Good to Great' and (to a slightly lesser degree) 'Built to Last.'

Even the narration style of Collins on the audio version of this book is jumpy, which is completely unlike his previous audio books.

It's a shame as the evidence (as always) is compelling and offers a valuable insight into successful management approaches in volatile markets.

Unlike the other books of Jim Collins, I unfortunately will not be recommending this one - sorry Jim!

P.S. Overall though, I'm still a huge fan!
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 11 October 2011
For as long as I can remember, Jim Collins has been a research-driven business thinker. In each of his prior books, he and his associates (usually Morten Hansen among them) shared what was revealed during many years of research to learn the answer to an especially important question. For Built to Last, it was "Why are some companies able to achieve and sustain success through multiple generations of leaders, across decades and even centuries?"; in Good to Great, "Why do some companies make the leap from good to great... and others don't?"; then in How the Might Fall, "How and why do some once great companies fall and other companies never get in to the same challenges, problems, and setbacks?"; and now in Great by Choice, "Why do some companies thrive in uncertainty, even chaos, and others do not?"

Collins, Hansen, and their colleagues conducted a nine-year study (2002-2011) and share with they learned. Here are the findings that caught my eye:

1. For reasons best revealed within the book's narrative, in context, some companies and leaders thrive in chaos. Those on whom the book focuses have out-performed their industry's index by at least 10 times and (key point) under extreme conditions shared with others in the same industry.

2. Characterized as "10X" companies, those selected were paired [a near-perfect match] -- for purposes of both comparison and contrast - with companies during "eras of dynastic performance that ended in 2002, not the companies as they are today. It's entirely possible that by the time you read these words, one or two of the companies on the list [i.e. Amgen, Biomet, Intel, Microsoft, Progressive Insurance, Southwest Airlines, and Stryker] has stumbled, falling from greatness."

3. The research invalidates well-entrenched myths (see Pages 9-10) with regard to the 10X companies and their leaders. For example, "the evidence does not support the premise that 10X companies will necessarily be more innovative than their less successful comparisons [during the same timeframe]; and in some cases, the 10X cases were [begin italics] less [end italics] innovative."

4. Leaders of 10X companies display three core behaviors that, in combination, distinguish them from the leaders of le4ss successful comparison companies. They also call to mind Level 5 leadership, examined in detail in Good to Great. Specifically, 10Xers exemplify fanatic discipline ("utterly relentless, monomaniacal, unbending in their focus on their quests"), empirical creativity (reliance on "direct observation, practical experimentation, and direct engagement with tangible evidence"), and productive paranoia (channeling their fear and worry into action, preparing, developing contingency plans, building buffers, and maintaining large margins of safety").

5. In the Epilogue, Collins and his associates acknowledge their sense that "a dangerous disease" is infecting today's culture, incorrectly suggesting that greatness "owes more to circumstance, even luck, than to action and discipline." Yes, they agree, good or bad luck plays a role for everyone, including 10Xers and Level Fivers. However, they offer an eloquent reassurance that many of us need to hear: "The greatest leaders we've studied throughout all our research cared as much about values as victory, as much about purpose as profit. As much about being useful as being successful. Their drive and stamina are ultimately internal, rising from where deep inside."

Organizations do not make choices, their leaders do, and the fate of those organizations depends on the quality of the choices those leaders make, especially amidst uncertainty, chaos, and luck...three realities that even the best leaders can only manage rather than control. That is the challenge but also the opportunity to which the book's title refers. The single most important difference between the 10X companies that Collins and Hansen discuss and tho0se with which they are compared/contrasted is that those who lead them make better choices and build and then sustain a culture within which everyone else does.
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on 9 June 2014
Jim Collins has overdone his methodology. When he released "Good to Great" there were good messages that came out of his research. These messages could be translated into corporate actions. However in this book, I struggled to read it - it simply failed to hold my attention from the opening chapter and by little under half way, I put it down hoping to re-visit it - but three monbths down the line the book is still where I left it, the book mark is still less than half way and I cannot stir myself to pick it up an dfinish off reading it.

That says it all. It will be given away to Oxfam this week - it is simply a waste of money. Jim Collins has over-hacked an outdated methodology. What was good at the time of Good to Great is old hat now. I will not be buying anything from Jim Collins until he change his methodology and does somethign different. Even his read "How the Mighty Fall" didn't do it for me. Save tyour money. If you've not read Good to Great I'd recommend that as a good read. The other follow on work from Jim Collins? Forget it. No value in those works whatsoever.
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on 24 June 2016
It's a good reading, simple and full of examples. The method used in the analysis is explained, which is not often the case on this kind of books. The author claims that 4 key points have been found as the success factors in the companies analyzed: the 20 miles march (= stepwise progression), the bullets vs. cannonballs (= test small things before going big), building buffers (= keep a margin of safety, especially in finance), and the discipline (= follow the guidelines).
However, this recipe suffers the same problem as many others: the narrative fallacy (D. Kahnemann). It is quite easy to reconstruct the cases as to support the theory one wishes to promote. The points claimed by the author are surely important for success, but are not the only ones. This leads to the other two problems: the over-simplification and the role of randomness.
The parameters that may affect success (or failure) are just too many and inter-correlated in a complex cause-and-effect structure, as to support a simple 4-points theory. Indeed the author dedicates a chapter to the study of luck, but the role of randomness is not deeply analyzed and, to my opinion, generally underestimated.
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on 13 October 2013
In Collin's "Built to Last", vision and values were key factors. In "Good to Great" even though at the start Collins believed the CEO had little influence, research showed the CEO was a key factor. In "Great by Choice" the CEO disappeared as a factor other than being ambitious. The "Apple" case is made to fit the his "recipes" for success. Jobs hired John Sculley, a marketing expert and Vice President of Pepsi to become the CEO of Apple. In Collin's terminology, Jobs "got the wrong man on the bus". When Jobs came back, he had become a better manager. He had been highly successful after leaving Apple and gained self-confidence. He realized that he had made a mistake, and that he could lead the company as the CEO. This case certainly demonstrates the importance of having the right CEO.

However, this book is definitely not a waste of time. One of the great values is a long list of questions CEOs should ask about their own company. Therefore also read the Research Foundations chapter too. Answering the question will give additional insights about what to change and improve.
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on 26 April 2012
After reading 'Good to Great' I realised that I didn't want to spend my life on someone else's bus and set up my own small business. Trying to lay the right foundations for growth is a challenge, especially in the current economic climate. This book has been instrumental in showing me what to focus on and how to structure my priorities. Thank you Mr.Collins.
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on 20 September 2012
For fans of Good to Great who are wary of reading something that may muddy the waters of the mind by offering yet another set of secrets of greatness, I'd say you have nothing to fear. Collins and Hansen do sharpen their understanding of the key principles by looking at how the best firms cope with extreme conditions, but Great by Choice doesn't overturn the findings of their previous classic.

By way of help, it has an excellent FAQ section that connects the ideas of Great by Choice to those of Good to Great, which I found helpful.

Overall, it's interesting, well-written and recommended. Not too long either (the main part of the book is only 184 pages).
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on 14 August 2016
Jim Collins has become a mainstream author of business literature and that can make him less popular in the eyes of "experts" who thrive of obscure literature only they have read. Don't let that fool you. This is par none one of the best business books around.

I read 1-2 books like this per week and did not read this one until now as I was not a fan of How the Mighty Fall, but a big fan of Good to Great, Build to Last and Beyond Entrepreneurship. This book was a huge surprise.

Buy it now.
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