Good to Great

Is anyone else reading Good to Great (Jim Collins)? I just started it and granted, I am reading 2 other books at the same time (Pledged and No Need for Speed....hey, I have diverse interests; rationalizing my sorority membership and being the best darned slow runner I can be), but it would be fun to get a little group discussion going if anyone else was interested in reading it too.

Now nobody spoil it for the rest of us by telling us how it ends. Everyone must discover the secret sauce for him/herself.

Comments (15)

  1. LiamR says:


    I haven’t read it yet, but I am loving "Founders at Work: Stories of Startup’s Early Days" by Ms. Jessica Livingstone.  Its a really great book essentially transcribing wide-ranging interviews with some phenomenal technical foundations.  For instance, Ray Ozzie is interviewed about Groove, Lotus, and other things he’s done, the founder of Hotmail, and many many more.

    It is wonderful perspective into what drove some of the leading founders of companies, looking back over their careers.  Interesting, and instructive.

    And of course, reading and re-reading the final HP book!  Yes, I’m a nerd.



    Sorry if this was off-topic (i.e., not about Good to Great), but it is related to technical careers with companies, their leaders, and the focus on delivering value to the user, something which I respect.

  2. Jeremy says:

    Heather – Great choice! I first read Good to Great several years ago and believe it to be one of the quintessential books on business. Collins is a spectacular author and I found his ability to succinctly describe the essence of success at the firms he discusses enjoyable and informative.

    Funny that you are reading it now – I put it in the rotation on my iPod a while back and have been meaning to listen to it but there’re a few others in the queue. This is good motivation to put it to the front of the line and participate in some of your discussion and get the take on it from some others.

    Not to mention that I’ve been a big fan of your blog for nearly 2 years and haven’t participated much in the past so this will be a good time to do that as well. Thanks for your blog and I’m looking forward to sending my resume into Microsoft when I finish my MBA at Gonzaga!

  3. HeatherLeigh says:

    LiamR – I still consider it on topic. Thanks for the book recommendation. I’ll have to put that on my list, but knowing how long it takes me to get through books, it may be a while before I get to it.

    Jeremy – great…glad you’ll participate in the discussion. I have "The Wisdom of Crowds" on my iPod. I’ll have to get to that one someday. I need to motivation to read through Good to Great. This will make me finish it more quickly.

  4. Bad_Brad says:

    I read "Good to Great" about two years ago.  The profound point that Collins makes is that, paradoxically, "good" can be the enemy of "great", insofar as if your goal is to simply be good at something, you will make decisions based on that and may miss some of the key opportunities or be afraid to take some of the crucial risks required to become great.  I have always been a believer that there is a cost of action that is visible, which makes many people so afraid to act.  Meanwhile, the cost of inaction is less transparent but can be much more profound.  Collins makes this point perfectly by juxtaposing the fortunes of otherwise comparable companies who either chose to follow his "Good to Great" principles or not.  Collins’s work is the first that I have seen that really quantifies the shareholder return that comes with a particular style of leadership in a company.  I am very interested in using this space to discuss some of Collins’s principles.

    Heather – thanks for bringing this up!

  5. RJD says:

    Read this years ago.  I actually got it from Microsoft (with a letter "signed" by Bill G himself) for beta testing some software.  SharePoint IIRC, but it’s been many years.  Great book.  It ends well.

  6. Raaj says:

    You should also try Built to Last (unless u have already)… An equally good book.(Collins and Porras).  The authors recommend that we read Good to Great first and then Built to Last, though the later was written some years earlier

  7. Darren Cox says:


    I gave his book to my wife, and three of my best friends as gifts.  it is the best business book I have read.  It should be required reading (and is at my companies) for anyone interested in why some business just seem to always succeed.

    I truly believe that if you read "Rules for Revolutionaries" by Guy Kawasaki, "Good To Great" by Jim Collins and "The One thing You Need to Know" By Marcus Buckingham (Especially if you are a hiring manager, recruiter or ever plan on being somebody’s boss) then you can pretty much stop reading other business books because you will be disappointed by the comparisons.

    I consider "Good To Great" to be akin to taking several graduate-level classes in business management.

    Marcus Bucingham’s "The One thing You Need to Know" is the best written, most succinct, and most helpful book I have ever come across detailing the differences between Leadership and Management and how to identify individual talents for each.

    Finally, if, like me, you have an entreprenurial spirit and would rather spend your whole life creating new "stuff" than anything else, but sometimes get discouraged because building a new product or soloution is such a daunting task with more people trying to tear it apart than to help you build it, you should definitely Read Guy Kawasaki’s "Rules for Revolutionaries."  This book was the foundation for my consulting practice and ultimately for having created a software company that I sold, two internet companies that I built and sold allowing me to play more golf than a PGA tour pro.

    I’m not going to go on another MBA rant, but there is a quote, which I cannot attribute to anyone because I can’t remember where it came from, which is(paraphrased):

    "Building new products in these technologically changing times is sort of like being a passenger on the Mayflower – Great Opportunity…Terrible Maps!"  

    I think these three books are as close as we can come to a business school-level atlas.

  8. RJD says:


    It wasn’t that the "great" companies followed his principles at all–his principles came after the companies were "great".  He tried to elucidate what commonalities in leadership, decision making, risk taking, etc. made these companies such, and distill these ideas down.

  9. HeatherLeigh says:

    Raaj and Darren, thanks for the recommendations!

    RJD – OK, stop right there….let the rest of us read it first! Don’t give us the cliffs notes version yet! 🙂

  10. Bad_Brad says:

    RJD – right, that’s what I meant.  It’s not like Collins handed down these principles a la Moses and then the companies followed them.  The companies followed them and then Collins figured out the commonalities after the fact.

  11. RJD says:

    @HLH – I had all these big words wanting to get loose, though!

    @Bad_Brad – I figured that’s what you meant, but if you hadn’t finished the book, you might not realize the relationship.

  12. Deemaz says:

    does anyone know if there if cliff notes for this book? I have to do a report and  it is due in two weeks! help…

  13. HeatherLeigh says:

    Come on  Deemaz, just read the book.

  14. connie rockey says:

    Are there cliff’s notes for Good to Great?

  15. Heather, I am about to read it again. I had the chance to hear Steve Collins speak at the Ernst and Young Entrepeneur of the year award a few years back and I promised myself I would read it again.  I will be conducting a book review session on Good to Great  for Vaco  consultants, candidates and clients in September. I welcome the opportunity to hear anothers point of view.


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