May 30, 2012
Jim Collins, author of the much-celebrated business book Good to Great, spent nine years with his partner, Morten Hansen, rigorously researching the ideas set forth in Great by Choice. Last week, Collins spoke about his discoveries with such enthusiasm that he took a dramatic tumble off the stage, which of course, demanded a full reading of this new work.
The premise is that we live in an incredibly complex, rapidly changing and unpredictable world that’s impossible to control. Some organizations thrive in this environment, while others fail. Through an analysis of empirical data, the book sets forth concrete techniques and strategies we can implement to help our organizations and ourselves be more successful.
It all comes down to the choices you make to be 1) empirically creative, 2) fanatically disciplined, and 3) productively paranoid. To illustrate their theories, real-world business cases are punctuated with stories of people in extreme adventure conditions. It’s an engaging and readable journey that shows us how to gain control, focus on the things that matter, and ultimately, find success for the cause you work for.
Here are just a few things they uncovered, many of which ran counter to their intuition. For the most part, great leaders aren’t born to it. They aren’t off-the-charts innovators. They don’t risk it all on one big bet. They don’t have special predictive or visionary abilities. And they aren’t perfect. Great news!
But they learn. They quickly correct their mistakes. They make consistent progress. And they deliver.
We love the provocative questions at the end of each chapter that will help you make these theories real, expand your capacity, and be better prepared for what you cannot possibly predict.