In 2001, researcher and author Jim Collins published the incredible best seller, Good to Great. I, for one, believe it is one of the 5 best business books ever written and a must read for every aspiring leader.
Why do I say this? For three reasons. First, G2G is not some consultant’s pet theory about success; instead, it is a brilliantly researched study of real companies. Second, Collins discoveries are imminently practical and applicable to any company that makes the choice to become great. And, third, because the book is simply well written and readable.
So, what is great? What does it mean? Here’s the official answer.
Using tough benchmarks, Collins and his research team identified a set of elite companies that made the leap to great results and sustained those results for at least fifteen years. How great? After the leap, the good-to-great companies generated cumulative stock returns that beat the general stock market by an average of seven times in fifteen years, better than twice the results delivered by a composite index of the world's greatest companies, including Coca-Cola, Intel, General Electric, and Merck.
Put in everyday terms, to be a great company a firm must leave the good behind and doggedly implement critical disciplines in order to stand apart from the rank and file. The result will be financial out-performance in terms of growth, profitability, and value. Great companies enjoy better margins. Great companies have great cultures and become employers of choice—demonstrated in low turnover, high employee satisfaction and engagement, and impressive tenure. Another trait of great companies is that they bring lasting and recognizable value to their customers in the form of meaningful solutions. They win more. They keep more. They expand into their customers’ businesses more.
Greatness is not perfection. Nor is it bigness. It is a quality that is measurable, sustainable and replicable. I am calling on you to join me in the pursuit of greatness. The journey will be hard and fun, frustrating and rewarding but if we truly choose to persevere we can and will have truly great companies.
Over the next few posts we’ll explore what Jim Collins discovered and discuss what it means to us where we live and work. We’ll look at people, leadership, honesty, technology, discipline and determination. However, nothing in these posts will approximate all that G2G entails and so I encourage you to read it or read it again. It’s worth it.
Mike Baer was one of the early leaders in the modern Business as Mission (BAM) movement. He is the Chief Development Officer of EmployBridge, a $3.2 billion employment company based in the US. Mike is the Co-Founder of ThirdPath, a global company that helps Christians become entrepreneurs. He has written 3 books on BAM: Business as Mission, 2IC: BAM for the Rest of Us, and Gospel Entrepreneur. Today Mike and his wife reside in the mountains of North Carolina where they enjoy their 5 grandchildren.