Revisiting Good to Great

by Bruce Kasanoff on September 29, 2010

I noticed this weekend that Good to Great is still on the bestseller list, after 132 years. Here’s my summary of its key points, along with a graphic for those of you who prefer pictures.

Desired outcome:
Move your company from good to great.

1. Put a Level 5 leader in place:
This person should have intense ambitions for the company, rather than for themselves. They also should be an effective leader, competent manager, contributing team member and a highly capable individual. If you can’t do this first, start working on the other steps and a Level 5 leader may emerge.

2. Get the right people on your bus before you make other key decisions
Decisions about vision, strategy, organizational structure and tactics cannot be made until you have first made sure you have the right people on your team, and that they are in the correct positions. You also need to get rid of people who should not be there. (Hint: put your best people on your biggest opportunities, not your biggest problems.)

3. Confront the brutal facts:
When you work hard to understand the reality of your current situation, the correct decisions often emerge. Great companies tend to have cultures in which people have many opportunities to be heard. Among other things, this requires a focus on questions, not answers; dialogue and debate, not coercion; red flag mechanisms that make critical information impossible to ignore.

4. Understand three critical areas:
Understand three things: in what areas can your firm be the best in the world; what are you passionate about; what are the drivers of your economic engine? Set your goals based on in-depth understanding of these areas, not on what Collins calls bravado.

5. Create a culture of discipline
Sustained success depends on “building a culture full of self-disciplined people who take disciplined action, fanatically consistent with the three circles” (see #4 above.)

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