Sunday, September 16, 2012

Good to Great - by Jim Collins

I have always liked the idea that "good is the enemy of great."  I have always been drawn to things that challenge the status quo, and this is one of those things. 

Jim Collins is one of my favorite authors (and we need to pray that he comes to faith!).  He identifies key concepts in leadership and management that, not surprisingly, often mirror Scriptural principles. 

This book captures the elements of what moves companies from "good," to "great."  With strict standards and much research, his team interviewed leaders and developed these key concepts.  There is a lot of great material in this book - but let me share what impacted me the most. 

Level 5 Leadership: - in summary, someone who has leadership ability, vision, competence and talent, but MINUS the ego.  The ego, in a sense, is subservient to the cause or purpose/vision of the organization.  It was certainly a challenge to me to look at my own ego and evaluate where it falls.  To be human is to desire growth and accomplishment, but we can't allow this desire to overrun the real reason we exist and serve.  C.S. Lewis said something to the effect that he could not work too hard to avoid thinking of his own success and fame. 

What We Can Be Best At:  Jim Collins describes the three circles:  "What you are deeply passionate about," "what you can be the best in the world at," and "what drives your economic engion."  Where these three circles overlap: this is your sweet spot, what your company should pursue to the exclusion of all other distractions.  He calls this the "hedgehog concept."  I love this simply because our tendency, especially in Christian ministry, is to do too many things...and to do them all half-way.  I have heard the phrase, "if something is worth doing, it is worth doing poorly."  While I intuitively don't like that expression, there is truth in it at the beginning...UNTIL you figure out what you should focus on, and then pursue it with all excellence and exclude the things that distract you. 

Start a 'Stop Doing' List:  In order to apply the hedgehog concept well, we must STOP doing a number of things that distract us.  Time wasters, time drainers, or even worthy things that take us away from our main goal.  Once your core purpose is identified, everyone should keep a "stop doing" list in a promonent place!

Create a Culture of Discipline/Get the Right People on the Bus and in the Right Seats:  While the 'bus' concept may already be familiar to you, I appreciated Collins' challenge to create a culture of corporate discipline that keeps standards high.  One issue that clogs up an organization is someone in the wrong seat on the bus who has no passion for what they are doing, and thus no inward drive that can push them into excellence.  If you've ever been in a position that doesn't fit for a long season of life (I have), you know the intense drain emotionally and even physically that results.  However, in contrast, getting the right person into the right position naturally will release their passion and interest and drive - which will naturally build into your culture of discipline.  This reduces the amount of time that management needs to spend in making sure that there people are working hard enough or producing results.  Instead, your people will be motivated internally to produce results that lead to excellence.

In conclusion, a worthy read!!  I think the "level 5 leadership" was the biggest take home for me and the "one thing" from this book that I will remember well and attempt to apply.  May God transform ME into a level-five leader someday!

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