Good to Great

By Jim Collins –

1. “Good is the enemy of great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. To go from good to great requires transcending the curse of competence.”

2. “We believe that almost any organization can substantially improve its stature and performance, perhaps even become great, if it conscientiously applies the framework of ideas we’ve uncovered… Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice.”

3. “They first got the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats – and then they figured out where to drive it.” “Hey, I got on this bus because of who else is on it; if we need to change direction to be more successful, fine with me.” “‘Who’ questions come before “what” questions – before vision, before strategy, before tactics, before organizational structure, before technology.” “Character, work ethic, basic intelligence, dedication to fulfilling commitments, and values are ingrained.” “The only way to deliver to the people who are achieving is to not burden them with the people who are not achieving.”

4. “…unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, AND at the same time have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

5. “When you have disciplined people, you don’t need hierarchy. When you have disciplined thought, you don’t need bureaucracy. When you have disciplined action, you don’t need excessive controls.”

6. “Transformations never happen in one fell swoop; ‘good to great’ comes about by a cumulative process – step by step.”

7. “Put your best people on your biggest opportunities, not your biggest problems…Managing your problems can only make you good, whereas building your opportunities is the only way to become great.”

8. “Breakthrough results come about by a series of good decisions, diligently executed and accumulated one on top of another.”

9. “You absolutely cannot make a series of good decisions without first confronting the brutal facts.”

10. “Lead with questions, not answers.” “Leadership: getting people to confront the brutal facts and act on the implications. One of the primary ways to de-motivate people is to ignore the brutal facts of reality.”

11. Be a catalyst! “Focus on the few things that will have the greatest impact.”

12. “The key lies not in better information, but in turning information into information that cannot be ignored.”

13. “Hedgehogs see what is essential, and ignore the rest. Take a complex world and simplify it into a single organizing idea, a basic concept that unifies and guides everything.” “The HH (Hedgehog) Concept is a turning point in the journey from good to great. Everything from here on out hinges upon having the right HHC.” “Anything that does not fit with our HHC, we will not do.” “To create great results requires a nearly fanatical dedication to the ideas of consistency within the HHC.” Suggested HHC for high schools: “Improve classroom teaching effectiveness to
engage students in substantive learning.”

14. “You never just focus on what you’ve accomplished for the year; you focus on what you’ve accomplished relative to exactly what you said you were going to accomplish– no matter how tough the measure.”

15. “Create a “stop doing list” and systematically unplug anything extraneous.” “The real question is, once you know the right thing, do you have the discipline to do the right thing and, equally important, to stop doing the wrong things?”

16. “There’s too much waste in teaching. Getting rid of it takes tenacity, not brilliance.”

17. “Technology can be an accelerator, but not a creator, of momentum.”

18. Need to “improve relative to an absolute standard of excellence”, not just be as good as or better than others who, truth be told, are mediocre.
19. Sometimes we need a “BHAG” (Big, hairy, audacious goal).

20. “It is no harder to build something great than to build something good. We must realize that much of what we’re doing is at least a waste of energy.” “Perpetuating mediocrity is an inherently depressing process.”

21. “He could not fire tenured professors, but he could hire the right people for every opening, gradually creating an environment where the wrong people felt increasingly uncomfortable.”

Glenn Detrick