Lessons from Good to Great: Ask a Rigorous Set of Questions

Nathanael Yellis By Nathanael Yellis • Last Updated May 18, 2021

I finally read Jim Collins' Good to Great a few months ago. And now I'm finally posting it to this blog (lame).

I loved it because it was based on data, but they didn't let the data speak for itself. They dug deep into the people and stories and history and discovered a cogent set of explanations for why the data said what is said. Thus, if you really want to take an organization that's ok and make it great, this is the book tells you how to make that happen.

Great organizations: disciplined people + disciplined thought + disciplined action.

Great organizations are, in a word, disciplined. Everything starts with disciplined thinking. That clarity leads to successful simplicity. Even the most complicated financial company in the analysis set had a simple idea and they rigorously stuck to it.

The lesson I learned is to ask a set of hard questions. In trying to answer these questions, the patterns of that discipline can be built. My list of questions are drawn from the most provocative findings in the Good to Great chapter summaries:

People: Do we have any doubts about the people on the team? Where should these people go? Do our people have the right attitude? How can we help them get the right skills?

Leadership: How can I show personal humility and professional will today? How have I shown today?

Analysis: What set of facts do we not know? What set are we ignoring? What set of facts are we confronting? Potential fact sets are stuff we're passion about or best in the world at and our economic drivers, that which lies at the absolute intersection of all three makes an organization great.

Action: What should we stop doing? What are our parameters for action? How are they enforced or ignored?

Technology: What momentum do we have now that technology can accelerate? What do we need before we can harness new technology?

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