Built to Last, the defining management study of the '90s, 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 companies that are not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness? Are there those that convert long-term mediocrity or worse into long-term superiority? If so, what are the distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great?
Over five years, Jim Collins and his research team have analyzed the histories of 28 companies, discovering why some companies make the leap and others don't. The findings include:
©2001 Jim Collins (P)2005 HarperCollins Publishers
"Like Built to Last, Good to Great is one of those books that managers and CEOs will be reading and rereading for years to come." (Amazon.com review)
"If you believe that a visionary leader with a strong ego is an essential component of sustained business success, then Jim Collins has a few thousand words for you. His carefully researched audiobook explains that the success of companies that outperform the market for 15 years in a row comes from selfless leadership, rigorous focus, and a culture of discipline....[T]here's another reason this book has burst through as a bestseller, which you can feel in Collins's narration: He is honestly excited about his research and unconventional findings. (AudioFile)
Yes, the narrator is the author, so maybe that counts for something. But man, he just goes so far over the top over-weighting his words so often, it's pretty comical at times. The sample is a bit misleading, because Collins is just getting warmed up in that. A few more pages in, and He Is Speaking Like A Triumphant Graduate Student Who Has Just...Found...The...PROOF...That...Discipline -- DISCIPLINE! -- is the Key!
Narrative comedy aside, there is a lot of worthwhile information here, though when you boil it down there's a lot of the obvious here. Also in late 2010 the discussion of Circuit City and Fannie Mae as "great companies" is a bit ridiculous; and some of the companies discussed as great have attained their greatness in part by less-than-moral means that have come to light in the years of increasingly ubiquitous internet since the book's publication. Still, Collins' articulation is highly accessible and well-ordered, making "the obvious" easier to digest and retain. 4 stars for content, 2 stars for narration = 3 stars.
I'd heard SO much about this book but KNEW almost nothing. When it started, I worried that it was only for big business - but it's WAY more than that.
It's for entrepreneurs and nonprofits. It's for people who want to turn around their business life and kick it up several notches. It's for getting the right people on the bus first and always asking if what you're doing fits in the intersection of something you're passionate about, can be the best in the world at, and drives your economic engine.
I'll listen again... lots to gain from this very popular book.
Charlie Seymour Jr
The author starts off by not grabbing my attention, but by making me sit through a long laundry list of the names of the contributors and other information that is highly personal to him, but especially boring to me at the beginning of an audio book. The author (who's the narrator too) then launches into a diatribe about the toil and effort and labor hours it took for the book followed by a trying-too-hard explanation of their research methodology with cliche' examples of "if you would have invested $1000 dollars in" back in …
I thought this part was over, but even after my coffee and breakfast, the author is still over emphasizing their research methodology and speaking of how they "pounded on tables" and other debate action with each other about the book. I continued to listen anyway, then I found him listing out another dry and boring laundry list of companies. When telling a story, Stephen King Points out: "don't tell us a thing, when you can show us" in his book On Writing. The author is "big" on telling us instead of showing us, effectively robbing the reader/listener of the experience of the discovery that a good and interesting story brings. I want to "discover" profound things as I go along, not names thrown at me all at once. He is still rambling about research methods at the 30 minute mark. "We call ourselves the chimps, in honor of our mascot Curious George" speaking still of how great their efforts were in their producing the book at the 32 minute mark. He speaks to us about the steak when we want to hear about the sizzle, let us taste the steak, not give us a molecular structure breakdown of it. Highly boring, this self-back patting is, I feel. I want to learn the unique information, not how hard they worked with Curious George cliché'(s) and table pounding meetings.
Lust for Life
It was pretty bland, though the book was so bad, I don't see a way of making it better.
I was frustrated by the ridiculous conclusions the author came up with based on highly flawed research, which itself was based on shaky premises. The idea that you can measure a company's "greatness" by its stock price set the stage for a highly disappointing book. I think the author actually set out to prove the hypothesis that a "level 5 leader" could turn a good company into a great company. Therefore, the so called research was designed to demonstrate this.
The research methods used were incredibly flawed and some of the conclusions the author drew were truly baffling. There were many inconsistencies, such as when he lauded one company for breaking away from its core business ("selling the mills"), then later criticizing another for doing essentially the same thing. He also annoyed me every time he referred to the "hedgehog concept." It was pretty obvious that the author wanted to coin a phrase, based on a story he told, because he repeated the phrase over and over, even though he applied it inconsistently. Anyway, the proof is in the pudding since some of the companies he held up as great (Circuit City, Wells Fargo, Fannie May), actually became epic fails or would have if the government didn't bail them out. The author tried to cover himself by saying that his conclusions were based on the condition of the companies' stock prices during particular periods of time. What a cop out! During the time periods, he surveyed these companies, the seeds for their failure were already being sown. Anyway, I could go on and on. Do yourself a favor and don't bother with this book.
This is simply a must read for any leader who struggles with taking their team to a new level of productivity. The hardest part of going from good to great is when no one else has done what you are trying to do. This book provides some very simple principles giving you a roadmap to help you and your team understand what should be your main focus.
Writer, Reader, Former Bookseller (RIP Borders)
Well researched. Counter-intuitive conclusions. Easy to listen to narration. Definitely worth the time and money.
Hi, the girl in the pic is me. Passion to learn new things and I'm on the go so audible is a perfect fit for me.
Excellent information! Well studied case histories, Jim's team thoroughly investigates each company's history used in the book, then gives a comparison company to allow us "the listener" know exactly what the companies people did to make that particular company succeed in certain area's or fail... each scenario is so detailed there is no room for error. This book is very well written.
Thank you so much Jim Collins & the people that helped you write this book, I loved it!!!
I Loved: "How the Mighty fall", too!
This book is over simplified dividing the world into two random groups "hedgehogs vs foxes" which is totally arbitrary. It's amusing in a way to listen to it now hearing him extol the virtues of such dynamite companies like Circuit City and Fannie Mae...the fact that he holds such companies so highly and draws his lessons from study of these companies seems to completely undermine all his conclusions. Avoid this crappy, boring, book.
This book helped me shape my perspective on everything from staffing to core business strategy. Moreover, it found a relatively entertaining way of doing it.
There was some good concepts in this book and I enjoyed learing about other businesses; however, each topic was overbaked. I kept thinking to myself, "ok, I've got it! Get the right people on the bus... ok... move on already!" It was hard to stay focused during parts of this book.
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