Read: July 2021

Inspiration: Why is this book so popular in the business world?


Written with the help of ChatGPT, below is a brief summary to understand what is covered in the book.

“Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t”, published in 2001 by author and professor Jim Collins, examines the characteristics and practices of companies that have made the transition from being good to great. Collins and his research team studied a variety of companies across different industries, seeking to understand what sets the successful ones apart from the rest. They identified several key factors that contributed to the success of these companies, including a focus on disciplined thought and action, the presence of a level 5 leader, and a culture of discipline. Collins also identifies several key practices that these companies implemented, such as the “hedgehog concept,” which involves focusing on a narrow area of expertise. The book offers valuable insights and practical guidance for businesses seeking to make the transition from good to great.

Unedited Notes

Direct from my original book log, below are my unedited notes (abbreviations and misspellings included) to show how I take notes as I read.

CEO from inside company best (not big personality), CEO compensation not linked to great, M&A not lead good to great nor does tech (tech just accelerate), not use some pre-announced plan–become great in retrospect, need the right people, culture of discipline with ethic of entreprenuership, leve 5 leader has humility and will (ambition is not for ego but for company), great level 5 leaders attribute good things to luck and bad things to self (vs bad leaders attribute bad to luck), level 5 set up successors for success, best leaders are modest and quietly determined—not about ego and credit, look out the window in successes and look in mirror when fail, best leaders come from inside the company and not big personality, having the right people is key first step before worry about direction, compensation no impact good to great outcomes once at reasonable level—about people not pay, companies based on one genius tend to fail once genius move on bc no plan for future, rigorous not ruthless culture, stockdale paradox = accept brutal facts of reality and maintain unwavering faith in endgame, optimists who think be out by christmas fail (stockdale was POW in vietnam who survive 8 years not knowing when get out but maintain faith and help others), hedgehogs simplify to large principles vs foxes see complexities all over but never learn (are scattered and diffuse), need to figure out what you can be the best at (no just what you want to be best at—distinction key, don’t be deluded), great companies find a single economic denominator (profit per x—figure that out, walgreens was profit per customer visit, wells fargo do profit per employee, kimberly clark per consumer brand), don’t grow just to grow (size is not success), hedgehog concept about passion, what can be best at (and know what cannot), economic engine (sustainable), bureaucracy and bringing in “order” seasoned execs is just to compensate for lack of discipline and incompetence, tech is accelerator of momentum not creator of it (use tech to advance hedgehog concept, not just to use tech), tech should complement strategy/mission, due to media can seem like breakthrough but really years of progress step by step (no clear moment inside the company), wooden coach UCLA for 15 years before nat’l champ (seems liked single moment breakthrough though), build up to the breakthrough, hoopla strategy announcement rarely work—bad to pivot and acquire to change directions often, acquisitions work to accelerate momentum after breakthrough not to create momentum

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Welcome to JeffReads, where I share summaries of the best books I’ve read on business, politics, science, technology and more.




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