Good to Great- A Synopsis

1.Level 5 Leaders
a. An individual who is very humble on a personal level, but who possesses a great deal of drive and desire to succeed, where “success’ is not personal, but defined by creating something great that will outlast their time at the helm.

2.First Who… Then What
a. First and foremost, do we have the right people “on the bus”?
b. “Great” companies have a very solid foundation, and don’t depend on the brilliance of any one person.
c. “Great” companies are “tough” places to work because of the general high-quality and hard-working mindset.
d. Quotes from the book…
i. Don’t hire someone unless you’re 100% sure that they are the right person. It’s better to wait and get someone that you know is a good fit.
ii. Once you realize you need to fire someone, don’t put it off. Do it quickly and fairly, but do it and be done with it, rather than put it off.
iii. Give good people good opportunities, rather than the biggest problems. Fixing problems makes you good, but taking advantage of the right opportunities can make you great.
e. Good to great teams had a good sense of balance with the rest of their lives- family, church, and so on.

3.Confront the Brutal Facts-
a. If people aren’t telling it like it is, those at the top may not realize the truth until too late. Here are some tips:
i. It’s often better to ask questions rather than dispense “answers.”
ii. Encourage healthy debate. It has to be real debate, not a show put on to make people feel included. It should also not just be an argument for the sake of argument- reach a conclusion and move on.
iii. When things go wrong, investigate to avoid repeating the mistake, instead of assigning blame. If people are too worried about protecting themselves, it becomes difficult to honestly analyze and learn from failures.
iv. Create mechanisms, “red flags” that allow people to communicate problems instantly and without repercussions, and in a way that cannot be ignored.

4.The Hedgehog Concept-
a. Refers to the parable of a hedgehog and a fox. The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing. Good to great companies were built by hedgehogs.
b. They were able to focus on one big important thing that made their companies great.
c. The “three circles” idea is how you find your hedgehog concept; these three interlocking circles represent:
i. What you are passionate about,
ii. What you can make money at, and
iii. What you can be the best at.
d. Avoid the things you will never be best at! (I know, horrible grammar)
e. Passion does not come from executive rah-rah sessions with employees, but by doing things that make people passionate on their own.

5.Culture of Discipline-
a. Great companies have both the entrepreneurial spirit and a sense of discipline.
b. Without the drive to try new things, and some degree of independence, a company becomes a rigid, stifling hierarchy.
c. Stop doing things that are just clutter, even if they seem important, if they are not in your three circles.

6.Technology-
a. “Great companies adapt and endure” – technology is not a differentiator in and of itself, but rather something that enhances great companies.
b. They don’t rush to embrace it for the sake of its newness.
c. Judicious use of technology can help accelerate momentum- but won’t light a fire where there is none.
d. Technology as a reaction- to the latest fashion, to the competition- was not found at great companies.
e. These companies possess a drive all their own that pushes them to be the best in their field, and picking the right technology is a natural part of that.

7.The Flywheel and Doom Loop-
a. These 2 concepts represent positive and negative momentum.
b. The Flywheel is a steady momentum, not quick acceleration, that uses its stored energy to keep it moving in the right direction.
c. The Doom Loop is a vicious circle that moves quickly in one direction, then quickly in another, in the hope of creating a sudden, sharp break with the past that will propel them to success.
d. The differences between the 2 approaches is characterized by the slow, steady, methodical preparation inherent in the flywheel, as compared to the abrupt, radical, and often revolutionary, rather than evolutionary changes within a company.

*Because it’s not really that much harder to be great than good, and if you’re not motivated to greatness, perhaps you should consider doing something else where you are.

Agree? Disagree? Who would like to start the discussion?

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