Applying ideas from Good to Great

Good to Great, by Jim Collins, has been out since 2001, but I just now got around to reading it. It’s an excellent book for anyone in management, and if you are thinking of starting a business, then make sure to read this book before doing anything else. Whenever I read a good business, management, leadership, or other self-help sort of book, I try to summarize it in some way that I can easily refer back to later. These are my notes from Good to Great:

  1. Modest & Rigorous Leadership: Be a leader who is humble, modest, focused on sustaining the right results, rigorous (not ruthless), and ambitious for the company or team. This means that the leader doesn’t, and probably shouldn’t, be a larger-than-life and charismatic individual who likes be known as the leader at the expense of the team.
  2. The Right Team: Get the right self-disciplined people on the team and the wrong people off the team, before setting the goals, vision, strategy, organizational structure, and so on. Leverage these excellent people to figure out where to go and how to get there. This way, everyone is in agreement and energy doesn’t need to be wasted on motivational exercises; plus being on a winning team is great motivation anyway. Also, the “right” person is more about character and ability, more than specific experience and skills.
  3. Manage by Facts: Ask questions, and keep asking questions to understand your data, and do it in a way that encourages dialog, not blame or coercion. Confront the brutal facts and know that you will prevail – eventually. This is similar to ideas from Six Sigma where you use facts to manage the business, not opinions. This is where those self-disciplined people to apply some disciplined thought to the facts.
  4. Stay Focused: Know what you and the team are passionate about and what you can be the best in the world at. Combine those with an easy-to-understand economic denominator, such as profit per employee, or profit per region, or profit per brand, and so on. Never deviate from doing only what you can be best at, only what you’re passionate about, and only on that economic denominator. This is where those self-disciplined people apply some disciplined action to what they’re focused on.
  5. Use a Council: Assemble a team of people to raise issues from around the company, meet as a team of peers regardless of titles, and meet regularly to focus on the following: Asking the difficult questions (the facts), debating the right course of action (stay focused), accepting the final executive decision, and reviewing what has and has not worked and why.

I have added this blog entry to my ongoing list of Business Management Tips.