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Great by Choice

“I love the straightforward title,” said a friend about Great by Choice. And, like Collins’ previous work, the book is as straightforward as the title. Collins and Hansen seek to answer their question, “Why do some companies thrive in uncertainty, even chaos, and others do not?”

Their research uses their standard research method: compare matched pairs of companies using market data and original documents. These companies were chosen for achieving spectacular results, while navigating uncertainty and chaos in their industry, and for being vulnerable early in the time window as young, small, entrepreneurial companies.

The value I found in this book is that it adds detail to Collins’ idea that great results are driven by disciplined people, disciplined thought, and disciplined action. Through stories drawn from their research and stories of explorers and adventurers who demonstrate the traits, Collins and Hansen make the case for what discipline looks like:

  • 20 Mile March – the discipline to have understandable and rigorous performance mechanisms.
  • Fire Bullets, Then Cannonballs – the discipline to blend creative methods with the ability to amplify its value.
  • Leading above the Death Line – prepare when things go well, manage risk, ask the tough questions.
  • SMaC – Specific, Methodical, and Consistent – make operating practices visible and replicable.
  • Return on Luck – Luck happened, both good and bad; the question is what return did you get on it? But the most important kind is “Who Luck” – the luck of finding the right “mentor, partner, teammate, leader, friend.”

Each chapter ends with a summary and a list of questions. Even if you find yourself arguing with Collins and Hansen’s methods or opinions, the questions are worth asking about your business and your self.

Who is your best luck?

Uncertainty as Opportunity
A vision is not a destination

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Kathleen, thanks for this peek into a book I haven’t read yet but would enjoy, I’m sure, since I read most of Collins’ others and have been highly influenced by him. I myself am disciplined in some ways and not in others. But I have had a lot of “Who Luck”– great spouse, great colleagues, great teachers and mentors. You are making me feel grateful tonight. Thank you.

    November 9, 2011
    • Thank you, Shirley, for your comment. I’m continuing to reflect on “Return on Luck” and the “Who” factor. I find it significant in my business and personal experience. Like you, I am grateful for those who have shared wisdom, strength, love, and forgiveness with me through the years.
      Kathleen

      November 9, 2011

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Have you used any “bullets” lately? « Resources for Organization Development
  2. Return on Luck « Resources for Organization Development
  3. Habits for organizations and individuals « Resources for Organization Development
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