Good To Great

I recently read what I will go ahead and call the best leadership book I've ever read - Good To Great by Jim Collins. I also just finished his follow-up monograph entitled Good To Great and the Social Sectors.

I have a lot of thoughts to share about this book and I probably won't share them all in this post. You may remember I recently reviewed the book Natural Church Development by Christian A. Schwarz and was also blown away by that book. Both G2G and NCD had a similar approach: Study great organisations and find what common traits they had that contribute to their greatness (churches for NCD and businesses for G2G). What I found extremely interesting is that their findings are quite similar. In fact, so similar that there are striking similarities in the diagrams in which they share their principles.

I'll give a brief synopsis of G2G here, but I'd like to go ahead and follow it up by teaming it up with my follow-up posts on NCD that I never finished. Hopefully, I'll find time to do this over the next few weeks.

Collins' research team found that all the companies that made the jump from being merely a "good" company to being a "great" company had these qualities in common, whether intentional or not.
  • Level 5 Leadership - Leaders who display a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.
  • First Who...Then What - They get the right people in the key seats before they decide where to take the bus.
  • Confront the Brutal Facts - Have faith that you will prevail, regardless of your difficulties, and at the same time have the discipline to confront the brutal facts of your reality. (i.e. - "We'll be great. Maybe not this year, but we will be great.")
  • The Hedgehog Concept - Greatness comes with consistently making decisions around a simple coherent concept. Your Hedgehog Concept is the intersection of 3 things: what you can be the best in the world at, what you are deeply passionate about, and what best drives your economic engine (or resource engine if you operate in the social sectors).
  • Culture of Discipline - People doing their work with excellence because they believe in what they're doing and they're allowed to operate with freedom within a framework of responsibilities.
  • The Flywheel - In building greatness, there is no single defining action, no grand program, no miracle moment. Rather, the process resembles relentlessly pushing a giant, heavy flywheel in one direction, turn upon turn, building momentum until a point of breakthrough, and beyond.

Honestly, whether you're a leader in a business, church, school, or anywhere - you should read this book. I believe G2G along with NCD will be required reading for anyone who is ever on staff with me, should I ever be the lead pastor of a church. Both books are simply foundational, but neither prescribe programs or trendy ideas. They both emphasize the power of people evaluating their circumstances and creatively, practically seeking their own solutions.

By the way - if you're out there thinking that churches have no business learning from business models, allow me to quote the first line of Good To Great and the Social Sectors. "We must reject the idea - well-intentioned, but dead wrong - that the primary path to greatness in the social sectors is to become 'more like a business.'"


Anonymous said...

It's good to see you made the connection between NCD and Good to Great. Schwarz's health principles in the church are exactly the same as Collin's health principles for business (are the same in the family, the same in the individual, are the same in every area of life). I'm currently reading Collin's earlire book, "Built to Last." Companies that last have 'all by itself' profits; they do not have the dollar as a value; rather, the dollars come 'all by itself' as they get other values in the right order.

Jeff Myers said...

I'm sure the same can be said of churches. Numbers aren't the priority, but the numbers come if all the quality factors are in place.