Book Summary: Good To Great
Explore what goes into a company's transformation from
mediocre to excellent. Based on hard evidence and volumes of
data, the book author (Jim Collins) and his team uncover
timeless principles on how the good-to-great companies like
Abbott, Circuit City, Fannie Mae, Gillette, Kimberly-Clark,
Kroger, Nucor, Philip Morris, Pitney Bowes, Walgreens, and
Wells Fargo produced sustained great results and achieved
enduring greatness, evolving into companies that were indeed
'Built to Last'.
The Collins team selected 2 sets of comparison companies:
a. Direct comparisons - Companies in the same industry with the same resources and opportunities as the good-to-great group but showed no leap in performance, which were: Upjohn, Silo, Great Western, Warner-Lambert, Scott Paper, A&P, Bethlehem Steel, RJ Reynolds, Addressograph, Eckerd, and Bank of America.
b. Unsustained comparisons - Companies that made a short-term shift from good to great but failed to maintain the trajectory, namely: Burroughs, Chrysler, Harris, Hasbro, Rubbermaid, and Teledyne
Wisdom In A Nutshell:
a. Ten out of eleven good-to-great company leaders or CEOs came from the inside. They were not outsiders hired in to 'save' the company. They were either people who worked many years at the company or were members of the family that owned the company.
b. Strategy per se did not separate the good to great companies from the comparison groups.
c. Good-to-great companies focus on what Not to do and what they should stop doing.
d. Technology has nothing to do with the transformation from good to great. It may help accelerate it but is not the cause of it.
e. Mergers and acquisitions do not cause a transformation from good to great.
f. Good-to-great companies paid little attention to managing change or motivating people. Under the right conditions, these problems naturally go away.
g. Good-to-great transformations did not need any new name, tagline, or launch program. The leap was in the performance results, not a revolutionary process.
h. Greatness is not a function of circumstance; it is clearly a matter of conscious choice.
i. Every good-to-great company had "Level 5" leadership during pivotal transition years, where Level 1 is a Highly Capable Individual, Level 2 is a Contributing Team Member, Level 3 is the Competent Manager, Level 4 is an Effective Leader, and Level 5 is the Executive who builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.
j. Level 5 leaders display a compelling modesty, are self-effacing and understated. In contrast, two thirds of the comparison companies had leaders with gargantuan personal egos that contributed to the demise or continued mediocrity of the company.
k. Level 5 leaders are fanatically driven, infected with an incurable need to produce sustained results. They are resolved to do whatever it takes to make the company great, no matter how big or hard the decisions.
l. One of the most damaging trends in recent history is the tendency (especially of boards of directors) to select dazzling, celebrity leaders and to de-select potential Level 5 leaders.
m. Potential Level 5 leaders exist all around us, we just have to know what to look for.
n. The research team was not looking for Level 5 leadership, but the data was overwhelming and convincing. The Level 5 discovery is an empirical, not ideological, finding.
o. Before answering the "what" questions of vision and strategy, ask first "who" are the right people for the team.
p. Comparison companies used layoffs much more than the good-to-great companies. Although rigorous, the good-to-great companies were never ruthless and did not rely on layoffs or restructuring to improve performance.
q. Good-to-great management teams consist of people who debate vigorously in search of the best answers, yet who unify behind decisions, regardless of parochial interests.
r. There is no link between executive compensation and the shift from good to great. The purpose of compensation is not to 'motivate' the right behaviors from the wrong people, but to get and keep the right people in the first place.
s. The old adage "People are your most important asset" is wrong. People are not your most important asset. The right people are.
t. Whether someone is the right person has more to do with character and innate capabilities than specific knowledge, skills or experience.
u. The Hedgehog Concept is a concept that flows from the deep understanding about the intersection of the following three circles:
1.What you can be best in the world at, realistically, and what you cannot be best in the world at
2.What drives your economic engine
3.What you are deeply passionate about
v. Discover your core values and purpose beyond simply making money and combine this with the dynamic of preserve the core values - stimulate progress, as shown for example by Disney. They have evolved from making short animated films, to feature length films, to theme parks, to cruises, but their core values of providing happiness to young and old, and not succumbing to cynicism remains strong.
w. Enduring great companies don't exist merely to deliver returns to shareholders. In a truly great company, profits and cash flow are absolutely essential for life, but they are not the very point of life.
"IF YOU'RE DOING SOMETHING YOU CARE DEEPLY ABOUT AND IF YOU BELIEVE IN IT, IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO IMAGINE NOT TRYING TO MAKE IT GREAT."
By: Regine P. Azurin and Yvette Pantilla
"A Lot Of Great Books....Too Little Time To Read"
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Regine Azurin is the President of a company that provides business book summaries of the latest bestsellers for busy executives and entrepreneurs.
Clive King, who has died aged 94, was the author of several children's books and is best known for Stig of the Dump, the original and imaginative fantasy story of the friendship between Barney, a boy of the modern era, with Stig, a boy from long, long ago who lives in a nearby chalk pit in a home created from things he can creatively and skilfully repurpose from waste, including a chimney from tin cans and windows from glass bottles....
Films based on books might have the intolerable disadvantage of people smugly claiming "the book is so much better", but they also result in a huge boost at the box office.
According to new research from the Publishers Association, films based on books take 44% more at the box office in the UK and 53% more worldwide than original screenplays.
..."In short, published material is the basis of 52% of top UK films in the last 10 years, and accounts for an even higher share of revenue from these leading performers, at 61% of UK box office gross and 65% of worldwide gross," the report reads.
The New York Times has a rare interview with Anne Tyler to coincide with the publication of her latest novel, Clock Dance. Tyler rarely does interviews because she dislikes the way they make her feel the next morning. "I'll go upstairs to my writing room to do my regular stint of work and I'll probably hear myself blathering on about writing and I won't do a very good job that day. I always say that the way you write a novel is for the first 83 drafts you pretend that nobody is ever, ever going to read it."
The good news for fans is that Tyler has no plans to retire: "What happens is six months go by after I finish a book," she said "and I start to go out of my mind. I have no hobbies, I don't garden, I hate travel. The impetus is not inspiration, just a feeling that I better do this. There's something addictive about leading another life at the same time you're living your own." She paused and added: "If you think about it, it's a very strange way to make a living."
The New York Times reports on the changing face of the romance novel genre:
...The landscape is slowly starting to change, as more diverse writers break into the genre, and publishers take chances on love stories that reflect a broader range of experiences and don't always fit the stereotypical girl-meets-boy mold. Forever Yours, an imprint at Grand Central, publishes Karelia Stetz-Waters, who writes romances about lesbian couples. Uzma Jalaluddin's debut novel, Ayesha at Last, takes place in a close-knit immigrant Muslim community in Canada, and features an outspoken Muslim heroine who falls for a more conservative Muslim man, a Darcy to her Lizzie Bennett...
...."Readers want books that reflect the world they live in, and they won't settle for a book about a small town where every single person is white," said Leah Koch, co-owner of the romance bookstore the Ripped Bodice in Culver City, Calif. Last year, six of her store's top 10 best-selling novels were written by authors of color, Ms. Koch said.
Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient (Bloomsbury), the story of an injured, anonymous English WWII pilot and his Italian nurse, has been named the winner of the Golden Man Booker Prize, awarded to the best work of fiction previously awarded the Man Booker Prize over the last 50 years.
In a brief statement released late Tuesday afternoon, Barnes & Noble said CEO Demos Parneros (who had been named CEO in April 2017) had been terminated for "violations of the Company's policies." While not saying what policies Parneros violated, B&N said his termination "is not due to any disagreement with the Company regarding its financial reporting, policies, or practices or any potential fraud relating thereto." In addition to being fired immediately, Parneros will not receive any severance, B&N said. B&N said Parneros's removal was undertaken by its board of directors, who were advised by the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.
In his first interview since being accused of inappropriate behavior with women, celebrated novelist Junot Díaz adamantly denied the allegations, including a claim he once "forcibly kissed" writer Zinzi Clemmons.
Díaz, who was awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, said he was "distressed," "confused," and "panicked" by the accusations, but insisted he had not bullied the women or been sexually inappropriate.
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Atlas Obscura explains the history behind the, arguably nonsensical, grammar rule about not ending a sentence with a preposition which, "all goes back to 17th-century England and a fusspot named John Dryden":
There are thousands of individual rules for proper grammatical use of any given language; mostly, these are created, and then taught, in order to maximize understanding and minimize confusion. But the English language prohibition against "preposition stranding"--ending a sentence with a preposition like with, at, or of--is not like this. It is a fantastically stupid rule that when followed often has the effect of mangling a sentence. And yet for hundreds of years, schoolchildren have been taught to create disastrously awkward sentences like "With whom did you go?"
...Born in 1631, John Dryden was the most important figure throughout the entire Restoration period of the late 17th century... Dryden twice stated an opposition to preposition stranding. In an afterword for one of his own plays, he criticized Ben Jonson for doing this, saying: "The preposition in the end of the sentence; a common fault with him, and which I have but lately observed in my own writing." Later, in a letter to a young writer who had asked for advice, he wrote: "In the correctness of the English I remember I hinted somewhat of concludding [sic] your sentences with prepositions or conjunctions sometimes, which is not elegant, as in your first sentence."
Dryden does not state why he finds this to be "not elegant." And yet somehow this completely unexplained, tiny criticism, buried in his mountain of works, lodged itself in the grammarian mind, and continued to be taught for hundreds of years later. This casual little comment would arguably be Dryden's most enduring creation.