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Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't
To find the keys to greatness, Collins’s 21-person research team read and coded 6,000 articles, generated more than 2,000 pages of interview transcripts and created 384 megabytes of computer data in a five-year project. The findings will surprise many readers and, quite frankly, upset others.
Built to Last, the defining management study of the nineties, showed how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the very beginning.
But what about the company that is not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness?
For years, this question preyed on the mind of Jim Collins. Are there companies that defy gravity and convert long-term mediocrity or worse into long-term superiority? And if so, what are the universal distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great?
Using tough benchmarks, Collins and his research team identified a set of elite companies that made the leap to great results and sustained those results for at least fifteen years. How great? After the leap, the good-to-great companies generated cumulative stock returns that beat the general stock market by an average of seven times in fifteen years, better than twice the results delivered by a composite index of the world’s greatest companies, including Coca-Cola, Intel, General Electric, and Merck.
The research team contrasted the good-to-great companies with a carefully selected set of comparison companies that failed to make the leap from good to great. What was different? Why did one set of companies become truly great performers while the other set remained only good?
The findings of the Good to Great study will surprise many readers and shed light on virtually every area of management strategy and practice. The findings include:
Level 5 Leaders: The research team was shocked to discover the type of leadership required to achieve greatness.
The Hedgehog Concept (Simplicity within the Three Circles): To go from good to great requires transcending the curse of competence.
A Culture of Discipline: When you combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get the magical alchemy of great results. Technology Accelerators: Good-to-great companies think differently about the role of technology.
The Flywheel and the Doom Loop: Those who launch radical change programs and wrenching restructurings will almost certainly fail to make the leap.
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James C. "Jim" Collins (born 1958) is an American researcher, author, speaker and consultant focused on the subject of business management and company sustainability and growth.
Collins received a BS in Mathematical Sciences at Stanford University, graduating in 1980.
He then spent 18 months in McKinsey & Co.'s San Francisco office. He was exposed to what may have been an influential project for him – two partners at McKinsey, Tom Peters and Robert Waterman, were running a McKinsey research project that later turned into the best-seller In Search of Excellence.
After his time at McKinsey, he returned to study at Stanford, graduating with an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business in 1983.
He then worked as a product manager for Hewlett-Packard for 18 months, before quitting to help manage his wife's ascending triathlon career.
Collins began his research and teaching career on the faculty at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business in 1988, where he received the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1992.
He published his first book, Beyond Entrepreneurship: Turning Your Business into an Enduring Great Company co-authored with William C. Lazier, in 1992.
He published his first best-seller Built To Last, co-authored with Jerry Poras, in 1994.
In 1995, he founded a management laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, where he now conducts research and teaches executives from the corporate and social sectors. During that time, Collins has served as a senior executive at CNN International, and also worked with social sector organizations, such as: Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, the Girl Scouts of the USA, the Leadership Network of Churches, the American Association of K-12 School Superintendents, and the United States Marine Corps.
Collins is married to former triathlete and 1985 Ironman World Championship winner, Joanne Ernst.
Collins has authored or co-authored six books based on his research, including the classics:
Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies
Good to Great
Great by Choice
How the Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In
Built to Last has been a fixture on the Business Week best-seller list for more than six years, and has been translated into 25 languages.
Good to Great, "about the factors common to those few companies ... to sustain remarkable success for a substantial period," attained long-running positions on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Business Week best-seller lists, has sold over 2.5 million hardcover copies, and has been translated into 32 languages.
His most recent book is Great by Choice.
Before that he wrote How the Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In.
Collins frequently contributes to Harvard Business Review, Business Week, Fortune and other publications