The book 'Good to Great' by Jim Collins is one of my favourite business books. In the book, Jim Collins and his research team studied public US companies over five-years and set out to answer the following questions:
How do companies go from good to great?
What do they do differently from their competitors who stay mediocre at best?
Here's what they found:
Focus on a Simple Strategy
Known as the Hedgehog Concept: the book depicts a cunning fox launching many surprise and varied attacks on a hedgehog. The hedgehog’s response is always the same: curl up in a spiky ball. Sticking to what you are passionate, driven and can do best is the right strategy. Keep it simple!
Companies that make it, appear to go through a sudden and dramatic transformation. However the reality is that success comes from many small incremental pushes in the right direction of their overall strategy.
Technology as an accelerator
Good-to-great companies are happy to invest in new technology to accelerate their momentum in the direction they are going. Technology is not the goal but instead seen as an enabler to achieve the goal.
All good-to-great companies enjoyed what is known as 'level 5' leadership during their transition. No surprise, such leaders are modest and focus on company-wide recognition, down playing their own contribution.
The Right People on the Bus
Getting the right people in the right roles is another area of focus for great companies. They put emphasis on attitude, believing people can learn new skills. When it doesn't work out, they move quickly to remove the person.
Never Losing Faith
Success requires facing up to the hard facts but always remaining optimistic. The key is to not lose sight of the brutal facts in any given scenario, but to stay focused and positive.
A Safe Environment
Great leaders understand the need to share the brutal facts, to get feedback and to carefully listen and study all mistakes made without playing the blame game.
A Culture of Discipline
In order to stick to a simple strategy, great companies require people and a culture of rigorous self-discipline to achieve great results.
Simple Strategy + Great Leadership + Right People + Safe Environment + Focused Discipline.