Review of Good to Great

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When this now-classic manual first appeared in 2001, it rapidly became one of the most popular business publications of all time. Prolific business author and consultant Jim Collins, a foremost analyst of how to build and sustain a business, also wrote How the Mighty Fail and Managing the Small to Mid-Sized Company, and co-wrote Great by Choice and Built to Last, another bestseller. Here he pursues one basic question: “Can a good company become a great company and, if so, how?” The principles of his “good-to-great” formula still hold up, but interestingly, many of the companies he and his research team identified as great didn’t last. Why is that? Clearly, Collins’ good-to-great tenets identify sound management practices: Hire the right people, specify your purpose, focus on results and make the tough decisions – the basic precepts now taught in any business management course. Yet unpredictable or unquantifiable forces, such as cumbersome bureaucracy, CEO ego, unanticipated markets and economic change, can push many successful firms off the cliff. They slide from great to good to bad to out of business. Despite the age of this classic business manual, a careful read of Collins’s principles could help forestall that fall.

About the Author

Consultant Jim Collins also wrote How the Mighty Fail and Managing the Small to Mid-Sized Company and co-authored, among other books, Great by Choice and Beyond Entrepreneurship. He co-authored the business bestseller Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies and contributes to the Harvard Business Review and Businessweek.


Fail or Thrive

Collins’s remarkably popular books share a common theme: how and why businesses fail or thrive. That’s his area of study, and he draws deeply on his research to produce in-depth examinations of the forces that sustain or undermine businesses. Collins writes, as you might expect, like a business consultant. The readers most likely to relish his unadorned, commonsense style are businesspeople. But his generally pedestrian prose doesn’t keep him from producing memorable, pithy aphorisms like, “While you can buy your way to growth, you absolutely cannot buy your way to greatness.”

Anyone seeking ideas about building a top-flight organization with a culture to match can gain wisdom from Collins’s way of thinking and presenting information.

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    D. A. 2 years ago
    A classic, must read for anyone focused on turning their company around.
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    W. C. 3 years ago
    I would find another example of a good to great company since Circuit City is out of business.