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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Jim Collins begins this book with a startling and counterintuitive claim: "Good is the enemy of great." We've become so conditioned to think of performance as something that develops along evolutionary lines -- from poor to good to outstanding -- that it takes a minute to grasp the notion that competence can actually inhibit achievement. As Collins says, "The vast majority of companies never become great, precisely because the vast majority become quite good -- and that is their main problem."
Based on an extensive five-year study conducted by Collins and a research team he affectionately refers to as "the Chimps," Good to Great defines and analyzes the practices that allowed 11 companies to make the rare transition from solid to outstanding performance. One of the first surprises of the book is the list of companies Collins focuses on: Circuit City, Gillette, Walgreens, and Wells Fargo haven't been touted as top performers in that way that GE or Coca-Cola, for instance, have. Nonetheless, the companies chosen have all met the rigorous criteria that Collins developed to measure the good-to-great transition. Some of the other revelations in the book concern the lack of correlation between executive compensation and corporate performance; the fact that technology did not in itself engender corporate transformation; and the scant attention that these upward-trending companies paid to such issues as managing change or motivating people.
Collins's philosophy is summed up in one noteworthy phrase from the book -- "Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice." Anyone who wants to make the right choices for their business will find Good to Great instructive, accessible, and well worth reading. It is sure to be a business book that will be consulted and referred to for years to come. (Sunil Sharma)