Good is the enemy of great

by Sonja van den Bosch

Good is the enemy of great

A couple of weeks ago my friend James Barwood from JDL Strategies invited me to the Australian Business Congress. The event kicked of with a very inspirational presentation by Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great and Great by Choice. Jim spoke about the contrast between success and failure and gave us an insight in how to ensure that you are building a great, instead of a good company.

I would like to share my 7 learning highlights with you:

A great company starts with great leadership
The X factor of truly great leadership is humility combined with great will and the focus on building something that outlasts you. Great leaders are better at correcting their mistakes and perpetuating their good decisions for a very long time. If your company cannot be great without you, it is not a great company YET.

A great company has a very strong core purpose and values
A great company understands why they do what they do and focuses on building a company culture that will last for the next 100 years. It is not important what core values you have, but that you are consistently living your core values. A great place to work is a difficult place to work. It is a culture where people are really challenged and they are brought together to do things they thought they would never be able to do.

A great company has the right people on the bus
In a great company more than 95% of the seats on the bus are filled with the right people. In order to do this you need to make great people decisions and also get people on board and around you that are better than you. Furthermore people have a tremendous capacity to grow, especially when they are given clear responsibility.

A great company is based on consistent conscious actions
Disciplined thought and action focused on one goal will create consistency and consciousness in action. If you constantly keep pushing the flywheel in the same direction, you’ll get the results. The true signature of mediocracy is chronic inconsistency. It is as important to have a NOT TO DO list as to have a TO DO list, as real disciplined action starts with stop doing things that don’t work.

A great company constantly changes its recipe by about 20%
Research has shown that companies that don’t change will fail and that companies that change a lot, say 80%, will fail. Companies that constantly make small changes, around 20%, have the most chance of success. In this way the change is manageable and hopefully you’ll understand the why behind the change, as the greatest danger is to be successful without understanding why.

A great company has a higher return on luck
Big winners are not luckier, but they know how to deal with good luck when they get it, as well as learn from bad luck when it comes to them and are not afraid to adjust their plans. A great company catches decline early Decline is like a disease. You might still look good on the outside, whereas the inside might be deteriorating. Ensure that you catch decline early and you’ll be able to fix it. Success does not breed failure, but when success is coupled with arrogance the decline starts. Remember that past success doesn’t entitle us to anything, except the intention to be better.

Hopefully this has inspired you to put good aside and focus on building a great company!

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