Good Is The Enemy of Great

In his 2001 bestseller, Good To Great, Jim Collins set out to find companies that achieved true greatness – and reveal their secrets.

Collins and his team analyzed hundreds of businesses over three decades, through recessions and explosive growth. They evaluated company strategies, business practices and economic success. Hoping to find what separates exceptional leaders from the rest.         

Collins learned that great companies have disciplined leadership and an ego-free culture. Managers function as entrepreneurs and risk taking is baked into their culture.  But what distinguished great companies was their relentless push for change and never taking their foot off the gas.

Compare that with those who find success, then slip into a comfortable groove. Think network TV, shopping malls and car dealers who ignored the warning signs. They liked the future just as it is, and didn’t evolve.

Now, it’s probably too late.

Out of the 1,435 companies reviewed, Jim Collins identified 11 that achieved greatness, including Phillip Morris, Kroger, Walgreens and Circuit City. Since then, many of those ‘great’ companies have fallen down the list, giving way to tech giants.

Here’s my take: Fast forward twenty years. Fortune recently published their list of the most admired companies, led by Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Disney, Netflix, Google etc.

Brick & mortar retailers fell back with the ‘good’ companies.

The list changed. But what makes companies great hasn’t. The best foster a culture of  innovation. They accept failure as part of the growth process and focus on the edges of the paradigm, where change incubates.

But above all, the best companies don’t settle. Because being good is the enemy of being great.

Beau Phillips is President of Rainmaker Media. 
He’s a creative marketing consultant, strategist and speaker.
Reach him at 203-256-9347 

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