Book Review: Good to Great by Jim Collins
Tim Bertram — Optimize Consulting LLC
Good to Great will force you to evaluate every aspect of your business, identify your strengths, remove weaknesses, and begin accelerating results.
Jim Collins conducted a study of over 1,400 companies to determine why some companies in the same industry would explode in growth and while others failed. He compiled all of this information into his book, Good to Great, which provides excellent insights and lessons any organization or company of any size will find valuable.
So… why do some companies go from good to great and others fail?
All companies that made the leap from good to great employed a “Level 5 Leader.” Level 5 leaders are ambitious for the company (“for the company” being a key distinction), humble, and unwavering in their commitment to grow the company.
Collins goes out of his way to explain this is not the only factor that will grow one’s company. Placing the burden of growth upon one person’s shoulders is a failing formula and will generate mediocre results.
One of the key qualities of a level 5 leader is who he/she places on the company’s “bus.”
WHO IS ON YOUR BUS?
Successful companies and organizations have a strong executive leadership team. One of the core responsibilities of a leader is to identify who to put on their team. A cadre of key lieutenants in charge of running departments, driving revenue, and taking on important projects.
One of my favorite points Collins makes is to, “Put your best people on your biggest opportunities, not your biggest problems”.
Oftentimes I see leaders (including myself) attempting to delegate problems or projects with a great level of difficulty to their best team members of staff. Typically, solving these problems does not have a great return on investment either.
Empowering those riding on your “bus” instead of misallocating their time and resources is a key takeaway from this section of the book.
CONFRONT THE BRUTAL FACTS:
If you wish to grow, then you must conduct an audit of what you are doing wrong. Collins even suggests creating a “Stop Doing List.”
In digital marketing, far too many agencies engage in trading time for money, making bad deals, or taking on too many projects at once.
Before starting Optimize Consulting, I had the “fortune” of witnessing many of my previous employers engage in activities that simply weren’t productive for either the company or the client.
Create a “Stop Doing List” and find where your business or organization can save time, effort, and money.
THE HEDGEHOG CONCEPT:
The Hedgehog Concept is perhaps the most important part of Collins’ book. The idea is you must identify what you are BEST in the world at doing, what you are PASSIONATE about, and what DRIVES your economic engine.
Once you identify these three items, determine how they overlap, and then SOLELY focus on this activity.
You can’t be everything to everyone.
For instance, Optimize Consulting utilizes trusted partners to build websites, design logos, produce videos, and assist with creative content.
It’s not our expertise and therefore we don’t waste our time nor our clients’ time on it. Instead, we’ve found partners we highly recommend to accomplish these tasks.
The end result? Our clients are happier with the deliverables and Optimize Consulting doesn’t waste precious time on work we don’t specialize in.
BUILDING A CULTURE OF DISCIPLINE AND USING TECHNOLOGY TO ACCELERATE RESULTS:
Once you’ve built your team, completed a “Stop Doing List,” identified what you’re best at, what you are passionate about, and what drives revenue — you must then build a company culture dedicated to remaining disciplined to these ideas.
This means saying NO to bad deals or time traps.
Figuring out what drives revenue and scaling those efforts.
Once you’ve perfected these concepts, it’s time to use technology to accelerate results.
Using email automation, marketing & sales tools, a CRM, invoicing software, ad platforms, anything to help you accomplish tasks at a faster pace or with a higher quality is a worth investing in.
Investing in technology to improve productivity can be as simple as purchasing a second monitor (something I only did recently and regret I hadn’t pulled the trigger on sooner).
According to Jim Collins, investing in marketing & sales technology and automation is a key element for a business to take the leap from good to great (if you need help investing in these tools, I know a company called Optimize Consulting who can help).
WHY SHOULD YOU READ THIS BOOK?
I recommend reading this book to anyone who finds themselves stuck in either their business or organization. More than likely, you have not identified your hedgehog concept and misallocating your time.
This is a data packed book any leader could benefit from reading.