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Good to Great

"There are no great men, only great challenges that ordinary men are forced by circumstances to meet." William F. Halsey

In his book Good to Great Jim Collins and a team of researchers investigate the differences between good companies, which many would term as very successful, and truly great companies. The companies were chosen from Forbes top 500 and then narrowed down to only the best 11 companies that met the criteria of greatness. The companies that made the great list had to have gone through a mediocre or even failing stage. This stage is followed by a steady increase in profit/performance until they were above the average market of good companies and then they also had to demonstrate enduring greatness and maintain this performance over time. Although Good to Great was written with big businesses and top CEOs in mind it also contains practical principles that can be applied by individuals, leaders, and church organizations. Jim Collins states that, good is the enemy of great, a powerful example of a principle that applies to both individual leadership and large organizations. How many simply settle for smooth roads and good enough results. If the leader is placated with good enough the company and followers will never have the drive or inspiration to strive cohesively for something better, greatness. Greatness as defined by the dictionary: Remarkable or out of the ordinary in degree, magnitude and effect. Of major significance or importance. It does not come easily but, as demonstrated by the principles in Good to Great, neither is it unachievable. Work, action and commitment are required as well as a certain sense of self investment. One of the phenomenons observed by Jim Collins and his team was that it was often the things that were not being done that held weightier insight into the companys success than those things that were being done. For example many companies when going through a depression of profit and performance relied on some external push of celebrity endorsement or new technology to internally motivate and perform a miracle as it were on behalf of the company. What great companies had in common was the knowledge that it took the right team to weather the good and the bad. A team that was willing to follow through, self discipline and strive for the common goal. If individuals believed in the vision and purpose of the company an entirely different atmosphere and work ethic was present. Meetings run differently because workers are able to hash out problems and discuss solutions without negative tyranny, individuals are able to work without the constant supervision and creation of hierarchy because it is the system of the company that is managed not the individuals. In correlation with this realization was the fact that it takes a great leader to lead a great team. What the book called level 5 leadership was described as a leader that builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will. The leaders of great companies were just interested in building their careers or amassing wealth. The leaders believed in and strove for the success of the company and equated that success with their own personal success. When a level 5 leader views his/her company in this way it is demonstrated in all aspects of the company from dedication to the vision to the priorities they set for the company. Once the company is united what is it united under or for? Part of leadership and the greatness of a company is based on its ability to asses the realism of what the companies goals are and what the focus of a company will be. Every company needs to have a vision and a mission. The book brought out what it called the hedgehog principle. The hedgehog principle directs the company and its leader to the hedgehog and its ability to survive based on its reaction to danger. The hedgehog has no great defense either through strength or speed, however, it survives threats time after time by repeating the same action each time. When the hedgehog perceives danger it curls up in a ball and plays dead. Any threat soon looses interest and abandons the hedgehog. In a company the hedgehog principle is represented by three overlapping circles. Circle 1 represents what the company is

passionate about, circle 2 represents what the company can be the best in the world at and circle 3 represents the economic engine that drives the other two. All three components combined provide guidelines for the creating the mission of the company as well as the practical component of the vision and how to accomplish the given mission. The most important part of the hedgehog principle and level 5 leadership is that no matter how great the company is the participants, both employees and supervisors, recognize that they arent just working for a paycheck. Each person wants the company to succeed because they are passionate about it and believe that they are or can be the best in the world at what they offer to the world. The final principle that makes an immense impact on whether a company achieves greatness is the flywheel principle. Imagine a huge ferris wheel and then think of what it takes to get the ferris wheel moving. It does not immediately start out at the speed it is meant to go. Slowly through constant input of energy it makes the rotations and finally increases enough in momentum to keep up its speed. When companies were making the transition from either being near bankruptcy or just from good to great it was tempting for them to try that external input of some amazing quick fix remedy. It was, however, only the companies that looked at the long term success of their company and started with the little constant steps that made the transition. In fact those were also the only companies that demonstrated long term endurance as well. The companys employees and leaders that applied the flywheel principle many often did not even realize at what point the shift had taken place from good to great or from near bankruptcy to success. What they recognized was that the company had pulled together and exerted the necessary energy for the company to not only succeed but to become great. Whether starting a new company, attempting to pull a company out of bankruptcy or trying to make the transition from good to great all of the same principles apply. These same principles do not apply just to business. Many if not all are also supported Biblically. The flywheel principle is demonstrated in Christs ministry on earth. To many it looked like He had not succeeded but after His death and resurrection the momentum of His constant ministry took of and was seen at Pentecost. In Solomon it can been seen that a leader must be humble and see the success of his domain as part of his personal success. Solomon entreats the Lord for wisdom and then for the majority of his life it is employed to rule the people wisely. Everything that is done by a Christian should be done to the glory of God whether business, work, or ministry. Dont be satisfied with good enough. Ministry for God should be GREAT!