The first six weeks of 2009 were not kind to the reputation of Jim Collins’ business bible, Good To Great. Performance issues with at least five of the eleven chronicled Good to Great companies have hit the headlines. G2G financial service companies Wells Fargo and Fannie Mae are seeing their darkest days.
|On January 9, 2009 Walgreens recently announced the layoff of 1,000 salaried workers.|
|The struggles of Nucor, the G2G steel company, were featured on the February 15 60 Minutes episode. But that was not the biggest casualty from The Great Eleven.|
|On January 16, Circuit City Stores, Inc. announced that it will seek Bankruptcy Court approval to begin the process to liquidate the assets of the company.|
So we’re down to 10 Good To Great companies. while others are posting less than great results. No one ever claimed that sustained greatness would be easy. But the sudden liquidation of a text-book great company is shocking nonetheless.
If not Greatness, then what?
Do we put the red bible for business greatness permanently back on the shelf and search for a new bible? As I have pointed out in previous briefings on pursuing greatness, the Good To Great model was a fit for eleven publicly traded companies, but it is NOT easily embraced by many 0bwannabes.
The book’s opening concept: Good is the Enemy of Great is so inspiring. its easy for competitive leaders to get caught up in the notion. At least until they discover they lack the leadership for a committed, ongoing pursuit.
Good To Great’s research delivers potentially valuable insight. Their Great Eleven had a great run, by any standards.
I am occasionally sought as a speaker by aspiring Good To Great organizations. In most every instance, I find that the well intentioned company is not ready to commit to all of the book’s principles. They’re hoping to be inspired to greatness by a keynote presentation. If only it could be that easy! I can typically flush out that their noble intentions are merely flavor-of-the-month initiatives. In the words of Frank Sinatra, they are destined to be “riding high in April, shot down in May.” The first clue can be the obvious presence of high profile CEO who is unlikely to reach Level 5 status. In these cases, I recommend that we avoid wasting everyone’s time.
“As funny as it may seem, some people get their kicks stompin’ on a dream.”
G2G author Jim Collins pointed out how most don’t pursue greatness because its “all too easy to settle for good”. Sadly, Circuit City would simply settle for solvency.
New Resources for Pursuing Greatness
If you still believe that good is the enemy of great and are committed to greatness, here are two other books that you should consider.
The Paradox of Excellence: How Great Performance Can Kill Your Business
A look at how continuing to satisfy raised customer expectations can do more harm than good.
It takes Tom Peter’s concepts of excellence and refines them with some practical advise on how to avoid mis-allocating scarce resources.