Guest Column | January 16, 2014

My Book Recommendation: Good to Great

Good to Great:  Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't By Jim Collins

By Debi Besmer, managing partner, Archelon Enclosures

Every once in a while I stumble upon a book that applies not only to my professional life, but to my personal life as well. The book Good to Great definitely caught my attention. So many of us are time-poverty struck, and if we performing at “good” levels, we feel accomplished. The word “good” is just that — it’s good. Nobody necessarily feels bad when they are told they did a good job that they have a good kid or they have a good product. But if you are told you did a great job or you have a great kid or a great product, it definitely takes the emotion to the next level. If you get the chance to read “Good to Great,” I highly recommend it. 

In the meantime, here are several of the highlights that are noteworthy:

Establishing longevity. The book outlines the basic principles of building a solid foundation for your company. One of my favorite phrases in the book is “pause-think-crawl-walk-run.” I find in technology things move very fast.  It’s easy to get caught up in the “instant response-mode” without pausing to think first. It’s also dangerous to run before you’re walking, and Collins does a great job in his explanation of establishing the building blocks. 

Importance of your people. For example, Collins gives the analogy that your company is the “bus,” and as the leader it is your job to move the bus. Most “good” companies start with where the bus is going, but “great” companies start with who is going with them. You can have a “great” vision, but mediocre people can only produce mediocre results. 

Collins also highlights these three keys that are vital to the corporate culture of a great company:

  • Disciplined people. Knowing the right people is the most important asset. Executives build enduring greatness through a blend of personal humility and professional will.
  •  Disciplined thought. Not afraid to confront the brutal facts, and adapt to change
  • Disciplined action. Avoiding hierarchy and bureaucracy to create a culture of discipline

Many of us at Archelon Enclosures have read this book and I feel that it has inspired the strategies we have applied in our business model. We are now in the “running stage” and you can expect to see great things! I hope it also challenges you to not settle for “just good.”