How does a good company get to be great? After five years of research, Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, discovers why some companies make the leap and others don’t. His method is a systematic process of contrasting the good to great examples to comparison companies, those companies that have achieved a “good” status. This elite group of 11 great companies had to pass very tough standards. They not only had to be great, but they had to sustain their greatness for at least 15 years. Collins goes into full detail about the criteria and research.

Virtually every area of management strategy and practice is affected. Collins categorizes his conclusive research into five key concepts: Level 5 Leaders, the Hedgehog Concept, a Culture of Discipline, Technology Accelerators, and the Flywheel and the Doom Loop.

One of the dominant themes that runs through this book is that if you successfully implement its findings, you won’t need to spend time and energy motivating people. If you have the right people on the bus, they’ll be self-motivated. The real question then becomes: how do you manage in such a way as not to de-motivate people?

Just as surprising as what turned up on the list is what didn’t. The good to great companies paid very little attention to managing change, motivating people, or creating alignment. Under the right conditions, the problems of commitment, alignment, motivation, and change largely melt away.

A few other unexpected findings:
• Larger-than-life, celebrity leaders who ride in from the outside negatively affect going from good to great.
• Good to great companies are more like hedgehogs: simple, dowdy creatures that know “one big thing” and stick to it. The comparison companies are more like foxes: crafty, cunning creatures that know many things yet lack consistency.
• “Stop Doing” lists are more important than “To Do” lists.
• 80 percent of the good to great executives interviewed didn’t mention technology as one of the top five factors in the transition.
• Those inside the good to great companies often were unaware of the magnitude of their transformation at the time; only later, in retrospect, did it become clear. They had no name, tag line, launch event, or program to signify what they were doing at the time.

There are even more interesting finds. Most importantly, there are some great ideas you can start implementing today—without the hype. IBI