I was astonished, reading Good To Great. It has so many findings about great companies, that are so massively ignored.
Many business leaders have referred to this book. While in their own organizations the findings they cast aside the findings in this book on a day by day basis.
I will go through a couple of them.
Ten of eleven good-to-great CEOs came from inside the company, whereas the comparison companies tried outside CEOs six times more often.
So no need to attract expensive business leaders from the outside. What we hear about their compensations schemes we sometimes find unethical and excessive.
We found no systematic pattern linking specific forms of executive compensation to the process of going from good to great.
Not only does the compensation not necessarily need to be very high. Moreover, the leaders of these companies stand out in humility. Leaders of great companies are to themselves, focused on the company, not themselves, have a big sense of humility and do not have big egos, are persistent calm and determined.
Self-effacing, quiet, reserved, even shy—these leaders are a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.
As surprising, great companies are not great because they have such a fantastic strategy. Nor is it technology or acquisitions, a very promising industry or special program.
Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice.
All companies have a culture, some companies have discipline, but few companies have a culture of discipline.
When you have disciplined people, you don’t need hierarchy. When you have disciplined thought, you don’t need bureaucracy. When you have disciplined action, you don’t need excessive controls. When you combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get the magical alchemy of great performance.
They never use technology as the primary means of igniting a transformation. Yet, paradoxically, they are pioneers in the application of carefully selected technologies.
Discipline and perseverance are the most important traits of great companies.
Every good-to-great company embraced what we came to call the Stockdale Paradox: You must maintain unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, AND at the same time have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.
In confronting the brutal facts, the good-to-great companies left themselves stronger and more resilient, not weaker and more dispirited. There is a sense of exhilaration that comes in facing head-on the hard truths and saying, “We will never give up. We will never capitulate. It might take a long time, but we will find a way to prevail…”
No, those who turn good into great are motivated by a deep creative urge and an inner compulsion for sheer unadulterated excellence for its own sake.
It is doing the work, a feel for business, perseverance, a lack of arrogance, not taking anything for granted, that distinguishes the great companies.
It is in such a sharp contrast with what you see in the large majority of the Fortune 500 companies, that I wonder how the leaders in these companies, and the big consulting companies advising these companies, and likely the investors in these companies can continue to ignore such fundamental findings.
When you put these two complementary forces together—a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship—you get a magical alchemy of superior performance and sustained results.
And if you cannot be the best in the world at your core business, then your core business cannot form the basis of your Hedgehog Concept.
When used right, technology becomes an accelerator of momentum, not a creator of it. The good-to-great companies never began their transitions with pioneering technology, for the simple reason that you cannot make good use of technology until you know which technologies are relevant.