A Must Read Business Classic

Today I’m launching Business Champions. It’s a free community for small and mighty business owners who want their brand to stand out from the crowd and punch above their weight to come together, learn, inspire and support one another. What singles Business Champions out is that they want to go from Good To Great. (Good To Great was written by top management consultant, Jim Collins, and is widely regarded in business circles).

Good To Great

It will come as no surprise that I’m not interested in good or ordinary. I’m interested in great and extraordinary. Good does not create a business that stands out from the crowd in a noisy world. Ordinary does not help a business pack an almighty punch and accelerate ahead of the competition. When it comes to business results, I’m not interested in moving to the next level. I’m interested in moving to a whole new level. The next level is just a stepping stone. An important one. But a stepping stone nevertheless. 

In business, it’s important to continually sharpen the saw, and refresh our thinking. One of the ways I like to do this is through the books I read. A book I return to over and over again is Jim Collins’ ‘Good To Great.’ Because it asks – and answers – one simple question. Can a good company become a truly great company? And if so, how?

A handful of companies were founded by great parents who instilled the seeds of greatness early on. George Merck, David Packard and Walt Disney. Today we see this in Facebook, Zappos and Toms Shoes. However the overwhelming majority of companies wake up part way through their business journey and realise that they’re good, but they’re not great. Apple became great only after it had gone to the brink of bankruptcy and brought back Steve Jobs, AFTER he had honed his leadership skills at Pixar. The jewellery giant PANDORA started life as a jewellery store in humble surroundings in Copenhagen.

Re-reading Good To Great reminds me of these key business principles:

  • Good To Great leaders are a blend of personal humility and professional will. They embody what Collins calls Level 5 Leadership. They are ambitious first and foremost for their company. They are self-effacing and understated, whilst being driven to produce sustained results. They are not show horses or celebrity leaders who are in fact negatively correlated with going from good to great.
  • Good To Great leaders make sure they have the right people on the bus, and they get the wrong people off the bus – quickly. They pay meticulous attention to their recruitment processes, hiring outstanding people and building a talented, highly self-motivated management team.
  • Good To Great leaders confront the brutal reality of their business, whilst retaining faith that they can and will prevail, whatever the difficulties and uncertainties. They acknowledge and tackle the weaknesses within their business. And they deal with external threats – like changing technology, new challengers – head on.
  • Good To Great companies are the best at their core business. This forms the basis of what Jim Collins calls your Hedgehog Concept: a deep understanding of what you are deeply passionate about, what you can be the best in the world at, and what drives your economic engine.
  • Good To Great companies have a culture of great discipline. This is not the same as bureaucracy. It’s about disciplined people engaging in disciplined thought and taking disciplined action within a consistent framework.
  • Good To Great leaders understand that the best business results come from pushing ‘the flywheel,’ until it gains momentum, and hits a point of breakthrough. They recognise that this takes huge and consistent effort. They’re not looking for a miracle moment, a magic pill or a new saviour, nor do they embrace fads.

Over the past few weeks as I’ve been thinking about the direction I want to take my business in, re-reading Good To Great has helped me to clarify my thinking. I highly recommend you add it to your summer reading list. I hope it helps you with yours.

Do you want to take your business from Good To Great? If so, I’d love for you to be part of the conversation over in my brand new (free) Business Champions Facebook community. This group is one way for me to deliver my mission – to share my expertise and experience as widely as possible, and to help small businesses get better results and accelerate their growth. I’d love for you to be a part.

Join The Conversation

Questions: Have you read Jim Collins’ Good To Great? If so, what were your key takeaways? Which business book do you go back to again and again?

Explore These Additional Resources

About Denyse

A former CEO, I took a leap of faith when I left my 25 year corporate career to set up my London based business coaching and consultancy practice. Because of my practical experience in the trenches, hard work and warm, no fluff and down to earth approach, I’ve built a global reputation, and am delighted to have a client list in the UK, US, Canada and Australia.

To find out more about the different ways of working with me, click here. If you’re familiar with my work and would like to discuss how I can help you grow your business, book a 30 minute informal Skype coffee chat using this link. There’s no hard sell. Just solid advice and a straightforward, honest assessment of whether 1:1 business coaching or business consultancy would be a good fit for your business, the results you can expect and how to get started.


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