Good To Great: Powerful Ideas For Building Great Companies

In Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t, author Jim Collins offers key insights and ideas that can help businesses of all sizes take their organizations to the next level. Collins’ research and core findings provide a road map for any organization to succeed and reach their goals.

The book is split into two main sections: the first focuses on the key principles for business success and the second provides practical strategies for implementing those principles. In the first part, Collins lays out the key principles of success, including the idea of a culture of discipline, a hedgehog concept and the idea of a flywheel. The second part of the book focuses on how to implement the principles and provides clear, actionable advice for business leaders.

Key insights and ideas from Good to Great

One of the key takeaways from the book is the idea of a culture of discipline. The author argues that companies that want to succeed at achieving greatness must stick to a set of core values and consistently follow them. This means that every decision is made with the company’s values in mind and all team members are held accountable for their actions. He also stresses the importance of teamwork and collaboration, highlighting that a successful team must work together to achieve their goals.

Another key insight Collins provides is the idea of a “Level 5” leader. Collins defines a Level 5 leader as someone who is humble, yet strong and decisive. Such a leader understands the importance of collaboration and understands that the success of the organization is dependent on the collective efforts of many people. Level 5 leaders have the ability to inspire and motivate their teams to achieve extraordinary results.

The author also emphasizes the concept of “getting the right people on the bus.” He argues that the best organizations are those that have the right people in the right roles at the right time. Organizational success is dependent on hiring the right people and giving them the right roles and responsibilities. Collins notes that the most successful organizations are those that put the right people in the right seats on the bus.

Another key insight Collins provides is the concept of “confronting the brutal facts.” The author argues that too many organizations make decisions based on what they want to believe rather than what is actually true. Collins believes that organizations need to make decisions based on facts and data, not on feelings or assumptions. In order to do this, he suggests that organizations need to continually ask tough questions and challenge their own assumptions. This allows them to make better decisions and be more successful.

The hedgehog concept is another key idea covered in the book. This concept states that in order to be successful, organizations need to have a deep understanding of three things: what they can be the best at, what drives their economic engine, and what they are passionate about. By understanding these three core components, organizations can focus their efforts and resources on achieving their goals. 

The key idea here is that companies should focus on the one thing they can do better than any other company and use it to carve an uncontested space for themselves in the marketplace. Collins also provides practical advice on how companies can identify their core competencies and how to use those core competencies to their advantage.

Finally, the author explains the flywheel concept which suggests that success is not the result of a single effort; rather, it’s a function of compound effect. In other words, small changes made over time can have a bigger impact than large changes made all at once. By taking small steps forward, organizations can gradually build momentum and eventually achieve their goals. 

It is therefore important for companies to strive for continuous improvement. This requires implementing processes that make it easier for team members to learn and grow. The book provides advice on how to achieve this, including having a clear vision for the company and investing in relevant technology.

12 insightful and inspiring quotes from Good to Great

Good to Great is so replete with powerful insights that you want to mark every page. Here are some of the quotes and excerpts that we found most insightful and inspiring: 

1. Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.

2. The good-to-great companies made a habit of putting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats – and then they figured out where to drive it.

3. The good-to-great leaders understood three simple truths: (1) You cannot command greatness; (2) You have to create the conditions that make greatness possible; and (3) You have to find, and then nurture and grow, the right people.

4. The good-to-great companies always started small, with a very disciplined focus on a core business. They never tried to do anything grand or heroic in the beginning. They started with what we now call a “hedgehog concept,” an understanding of what they could be the best in the world at, and what drove their economic engine.

5. The good-to-great companies had a culture of self-discipline. They didn’t have a culture of prima donnas or one-man shows. The genius of their leadership was that they were clear about their values but flexible about their practices. They kept their core values intact but were willing to continuously improve their operating practices.

6. The genius of the good-to-great process is its refreshing simplicity.

7. Technology is a tool, not a driver.

8. The good-to-great companies went from ‘we’ve always done it this way’ to ‘there must be a better way’.

9. The good-to-great leaders understood three simple truths: (1) you cannot deliver superior performance unless you have a culture of discipline; (2) you cannot create a culture of discipline unless you have a moral sense of purpose; and (3) you cannot have a moral sense of purpose unless you have leaders who truly believe that their decisions and actions have the power to make a difference.

10. The moment you feel the need to tightly manage someone, you have made a hiring mistake. The best people don’t need to be managed. Guided, taught, led—yes. But not tightly managed.

11. If you want to make a good decision, you need to let the bad decisions teach you.

12. The good-to-great companies never talked about brilliance, genius, or being the best; instead, they talked about doing whatever it took to make the company great.

Bonus: Good-to-great companies are humble, not arrogant. They focus on what they can learn, not on what they already know. [Click to tweet]


Good to Great is a treasure trove for any visionary leader who desires to build a truly great company. Whether you’re a business leader, a corporate professional, or an aspiring entrepreneur, you will get great value from learning and applying Jim Collins’ research-backed insights on how to set standards of excellence and develop the attributes that separate great companies from the rest of the pack.

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