Title: Good to Great Author: Jim Collins

The book starts out giving some pretty strict credentials for what is thought of as a "Good to Great" company. A few of them are:

  • First Who, then What
  • Level 5 Leadership
  • The Flywheel
  • Hedgehog Concept

First Who, then What

This is all about getting the right people on board before you worry about finding the "right" product to make. He argues and backs the idea that most companies who did well did not worry so much about choosing the correct market right away, rather they focussed on getting people on board for the shared mission. Doing so takes away or mitigates concerns about keeping people motivated. He argues that if you get the right people on board this is a non-issue. You shouldn't have to motivate, rather if you have people that share your vision, passion, and ethic, that takes care of itself.

Level 5 Leadership

The CEO is a humble, hard-working, dedicated person that has come from inside the company and slowly worked their way up. They are the type that, asked how they drove the company to its success, will almost assuredly reply "it was the people around me". Though humble, they are hard-drivers. They expect hard work, but they also live a good life. He doesn't say these are people that forgo their families in an effort to get rich by working all the time. He notes many who have at-home hobbies that they consistently attend to. The core comes back to having people around that you trust so that you don't feel you have to do the work. You know the work is getting done by getting these people around you.

The Flywheel

Long story short, "get rich quick" doesn't work. Slowly apply and drive progress bit by bit, but toward a goal. That is key. Knowing your hedgehog concept (described in the next section) is where this is at. Steady growth and development always.

Hedgehog Concept

The analogy here comes from a story that in which a hedgehog is constantly annoyed by a predator. Each and every day the predator (much more powerful in a human's eyes like a fox) comes back and tries to attack it, and each and every day the hedgehog uses its go-to method of defense (flaring its quills) to make the fox go away. The high level concept is that we need one driving motivation that is at the lifeblood of the company. Decisions, meetings, they all come back to this as the core place to point. The concept needs to be an overlap of three chracteristics:

  • You are passionate about it
  • You can be the best in the world at it
  • A measurement that drives the companies "engine" (profit per customer, etc.)


The major take away for me in this book was that the little things make all the difference. Shocker, right? But honestly, Collins shows that it was never the rockstar CEO but rather the person that climbed the ladder from inside. It was never the "get rich quick" schemes. It was never "motivating the employees" through quick motivational speakers or schemes. It was never paying more to "bring in the talent". It was all the things we think of as boring stuff. Character and integrity come to mind. This is what it takes.

Craft on.