Jim Collins is a student and teacher of enduring great companies -- how they grow, how they attain superior performance, and how good companies can become great companies. Having invested over a decade of research into the topic, Jim has co-authored three books, including the classic Built to Last, a fixture on the Business Week bestseller list for his eliminated wasteful luxuries, like executive dining rooms, corporate jets, lavish vacation spots, etc., for the good of the company - to other people, external factors, and good luck. All 11 of the featured companies had this type of leadership, character multi-year research projects and works with executives from the private, public, and social sectors.
Jim has served as a teacher to senior executives and CEOs at corporations that include: Starbucks Coffee, Merck, Patagonia, American General, W.L. Gore, and hundreds more. He has also worked with the non-corporate sector such as the Leadership Network of Churches, Johns Hopkins Medical School, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and The Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Non-Profit Management.
Jim invests a significant portion of his energy in large-scale research projects -- often five or more years in duration -- to develop fundamental insights and then translate those findings into books, articles and lectures. He uses his management laboratory to work directly with executives and to develop practical tools for applying the concepts that flow from his research.
In addition, Jim is an avid rock climber and has made free ascents of the West Face of El Capitan and the East Face of Washington Column in Yosemite Valley.
Collins and his team identified 11 companies that followed a pattern of "fifteen-year cumulative stock returns at or below the general stock market, punctuated by a transition point, then cumulative returns at least three times the market over the next fifteen years." Public companies were selected because of the availability of comparable data. Fifteen-year segments were selected to weed out the one-hit wonders and luck breaks. While these selection criteria exclude "new economy" companies, Collins contends that there is nothing new about the new economy, citing earlier technology innovations of electricity, the telephone, and the transistor.
Having identified the companies that made the leap from Good To Great, Collins and his team set out to examine the transition point. What characteristics did the Good To Great companies have that their industry counterparts did not? What didn't the Good To Great companies have?
Collins maps out three stages, each with two key concepts. These six concepts are the heart of Good To Great and he devotes a chapter to explaining each of them. • Level 5 Leadership
• First Who... Then What
• Confront the Brutal Facts
• The Hedgehog Concept
• A Culture of Discipline
• Technology Accelerators
Collins characterizes the Level 5 leader, as "a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will." The Level 5 leader is not the "corporate savior" or "turnaround expert". Most of the CEOs of the Good To Great companies as they made the transition were company insiders. They were more concerned about what they could "build, create and contribute" than what they could "get - fame, fortune, adulation, power, whatever". No Ken Lay of Enron or Al Dunlap of Scott Paper, the larger-than-life CEO, led a Good To Great company. This kind of executive is "concerned more with their own reputation for personal greatness" than they are with "setting the company up for success in the next generation". In this book, Jim Collins also challenges the notion that "people are your most important asset" and postulates instead that "the right people are." I don't know that I yet completely agree with his philosophy that it's more important to get the right people on the bus and then see where it...