The authors, Jim Collins and Morton T Hanson began their research for this book with the understanding that “the dominant pattern of history is not stability but instability and disruption.” It is their firm opinion that there will always be disruption and chaos and we should expect them. They consider their research findings important and useful in that they suggest strategies, thinking and actions for preparing and dealing with difficult times.
Although Collins and Hanson applied their research primarily to companies, what they learned can benefit each of us at various levels. Whether we are searching for strategies to enhance our personal lives, family relationships, or leadership roles, this book provides specific approaches that will lead to increased effectiveness and greater success.
The authors examined a number of successful companies, such as South West Airlines, Microsoft and Intel and compared each one with a less successful company in the same type of business. The question they wanted to answer was “what did the great ones share in common that distinguished them from their direct comparisons? What does it take to build a great company?” The question I asked myself while studying their findings was “How can I apply these principles and strategies to build a satisfying, fulfilling life?”
The authors and their research team considered only companies that:(1) had achieved truly spectacular results (at least 10 times that of the industry),
(2) had achieved these results in particularly turbulent and difficult times, and
(3) had begun from a position of vulnerability. They wanted to know, for example, why South West Airlines became so successful in the same unpredictable and difficult environment in which Pacific South West Airlines failed.
They call the highly successful companies 10xers and outline the particular practises, strategies and thinking separating them from the comparison companies.
The authors cite a number of examples of leaders who successfully applied the 10x principles and strategies. They compare these companies with less successful companies that performed poorly in difficult circumstances, because they didn’t apply the 10x thinking and practises.
At various points the authors refer to the South Pole explorers, Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott. Amundsen prepared diligently and ensured that he had adequate and appropriate supplies. Scott was less rigorous in virtually all aspects of the expedition and died on the return leg of the journey.
Amundsen’s meticulous preparation and his rigorous attention to details while en route to the South Pole are exemplified in contemporary leaders like Bill Gates (Microsoft), John Brown (Stryker). Herb Kelleher (Southwest Airlines), Peter Lewis (Progressive Insurance) and others.
In following segments I will write more specifically and in greater detail about Fanatical Discipline, (one of the Three Core Behaviours of the successful companies), the 20 Mile March, the practise of “fire bullets, then cannons,’ and the SMAC recipe.
I am finding that as I apply the thinking, strategies and principles in Great by Choice, I’m increasingly aware of a positive change in my approach to life and leadership. My purpose in giving considerable attention to the ideas presented in “Great by Choice” is to encourage leaders, especially those at the community level, to grow in leadership, wisdom and understanding. The next segment will deal with Fanatical Discipline and will be posted soon.