Book Review – Good to Great (Week 5 of 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge)

Good To Great by Jim Collins

Ok, so it’s been a few weeks since I posted the last book. Technically this should be Week 7! But alas, delays happen and sometimes we must simply catch back up! And I will do just that! But for now, let’s talk about “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t.” by Jim Collins.

Published in 2001, this book is standing the test of time and is truly a magnificent read. I highly encourage anyone, and everyone, to read it. It’s not only great for those in business, but also for those involved in organizations, clubs, non-profits, teams, or anything of the sort.

Good to Great is an essentially a huge study into how 11 of the greatest companies in the United States transformed themselves from being good to great. The book runs about 300 pages, though the actual text itself (minus the apendix and extra stuff) is only about 210. So it’s not too long, but it’s crammed full of eye opening and enlightening information. It tackles these 11 companies head on with in-depth research and analysis and reveals key similarities that they ALL share.

And these aren’t just arbitrary companies picked by the author and deemed “great”. No, these are companies that met some highly restrictive qualifications, including at least 30 years of success (at least 15 good years followed by at least 15 great years). Collins and his team look at these companies from every angle and have found key observations that will really get you thinking and motivated to apply these concepts to your own companies and/or organizations that you work for (or will work for in the future).

Seven Characteristics of Companies that went from Good to Great

  • Level 5 Leadership: Leaders who are humble, but driven to do what’s best for the company.
  • First Who, Then What: Get the right people on the bus, then figure out where to go. Finding the right people and trying them out in different positions.
  • Confront the Brutal Facts: The Stockdale paradox – Confront the brutal truth of the situation, yet at the same time, never give up hope.
  • Hedgehog Concept: Three overlapping circles: What makes you money? What could you be best in the world at? and What lights your fire?
  • Culture of Discipline: Rinsing the cottage cheese.
  • Technology Accelerators: Using technology to accelerate growth, within the three circles of the hedgehog concept.
  • The Flywheel: The additive effect of many small initiatives; they act on each other like compound interest.Source:

Jim Collins also manages to relate this book to his previous work, “Build to Last,” which covers how great companies stay great. What he found was that even though he researched Good to Great afterwards, it was more of a prequel. So I know one of the books I’ll be reading in this challenge will certainly be BTL.

If you’ve ever thought about wanting to be a CEO, or owning your own company. You MUST read this book. It’s widely considered one of the best management books out there and for good reason. To me, this is one of those few books that really changes the way you think about the way we do things. This changed the very fundamentals of my thought process, and I can’t wait to start applying these concepts.


About Jason Willis
Jason graduated from the University of Central Florida in the fall of 2011 with a B.S.B.A. in Finance. He currently works at The Newport Group as an Investment Analyst on the Asset & Liability Management Team working with Non Qualified Deferred Compensation Plans. In his spare time he continues to give back to AKPsi by assisting with the CFAC and NX Chapter at UCF. He also currently operates his own blog entitled Professional Hedging, and is also preparing to acquire his Series 7 and 66 Certifications.

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