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Leadership and Vision

Jerry Porrass research interests are the characteristics of visionary companies in both the United States and Europe; the dynamics of planned organizational change process; organizational vision and its influence on the long-term behavior organizations; and leadership.

Jerry I. Porras is the Lane Professor of Organizational Behavior, Emeritus. He received his BSEE from Texas Western College, his MBA from Cornell University, and his PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles. Among the honors he has received are the Brilliante Award from the National Society of Hispanic MBAs, the Silver Apple Award from the Stanford Business School Alumni Association, and the Kanter Medal from the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology. He joined the Stanford faculty in 1972.

Professor Porras is author of Stream Analysis: A Powerful Way to Diagnose and Manage Organizational Change (Addison-Wesley, 1987); co-developer of the Stream Analysis Software Package (1999); and coauthor of Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (Harper Business, 1994) and Building Your Companys Vision, Harvard Business Review (1996). He has served on several editorial boards including the Journal of Organizational Change Management, Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, Academy of Management Journal, and Academy of Management Review.

“This is not a book about charismatic visionary leaders. It is not about visionary product concepts or visionary products or visionary market insights. Nor is it about just having a corporate vision. This is a book about something far more important, enduring, and substantial. This is a book about visionary companies.” So write Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in this groundbreaking book that shatters myths, provides new insights, and gives practical guidance to those who would like to build landmark companies that stand the test of time.

Drawing upon a six-year research project at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, Collins and Porras took eighteen truly exceptional and long-lasting companies — they have an average age of nearly one hundred years and have outperformed the general stock market by a factor of fifteen since 1926 — and studied each company in direct comparison to one of its top competitors. They examined the companies from their very beginnings to the present day — as start-ups, as midsize companies, and as large corporations. Throughout, the authors asked: “What makes the truly exceptional companies different from other companies?”

What separates General Electric, 3M, Merck, Wal-Mart, Hewlett-Packard, Walt Disney, and Philip Morris from their rivals? How, for example, did Procter & Gamble, which began life substantially behind rival Colgate, eventually prevail as the premier institution in its industry? How was Motorola able to move from a humble battery repair business into integrated circuits and cellular communications, while Zenith never became dominant in anything other than TVs? How did Boeing unseat McDonnell Douglas as the world’s best commercial aircraft company — what did Boeing have that McDonnell Douglas lacked?

By answering such questions, Collins and Porras go beyond the incessant barrage of management buzzwords and fads of the day to discover timeless qualities that have consistently distinguished out-standing companies. They also provide inspiration to all executives and entrepreneurs by destroying the false but widely accepted idea that only charismatic visionary leaders can build visionary companies.

Filled with hundreds of specific examples and organized into a coherent framework of practical concepts that can be applied by managers and entrepreneurs at all levels, Built to Last provides a master blueprint for building organizations that will prosper long into the twenty-first century and beyond.


 

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t By Jim Collins

To learn more about Good To Great, click here.

 

Built to Last, the defining management study of the nineties, showed how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the very beginning.

 

But what about the company that is not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness?

 

The Study:
For years, this question preyed on the mind of Jim Collins. Are there companies that defy gravity and convert long-term mediocrity or worse into long-term superiority? And if so, what are the universal distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great?

 

The Standards:
Using tough benchmarks, Collins and his research team identified a set of elite companies that made the leap to great results and sustained those results for at least fifteen years. How great? After the leap, the good-to-great companies generated cumulative stock returns that beat the general stock market by an average of seven times in fifteen years, better than twice the results delivered by a composite index of the world’s greatest companies, including Coca-Cola, Intel, General Electric, and Merck.

 

The Comparisons:
The research team contrasted the good-to-great companies with a carefully selected set of comparison companies that failed to make the leap from good to great. What was different? Why did one set of companies become truly great performers while the other set remained only good?

 

Over five years, the team analyzed the histories of all twenty-eight companies in the study. After sifting through mountains of data and thousands of pages of interviews, Collins and his crew discovered the key determinants of greatness — why some companies make the leap and others don’t.

 

The Findings:
The findings of the Good to Great study will surprise many readers and shed light on virtually every area of management strategy and practice. The findings include:

 

  • Level 5 Leaders: The research team was shocked to discover the type of leadership required to achieve greatness.
  • The Hedgehog Concept: (Simplicity within the Three Circles): To go from good to great requires transcending the curse of competence.
  • A Culture of Discipline: When you combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get the magical alchemy of great results. Technology Accelerators: Good-to-great companies think differently about the role of technology.
  • The Flywheel and the Doom Loop: Those who launch radical change programs and wrenching restructurings will almost certainly fail to make the leap.

“Some of the key concepts discerned in the study,” comments Jim Collins, “fly in the face of our modern business culture and will, quite frankly, upset some people.”

 

Perhaps, but who can afford to ignore these findings?

Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck–Why Some Thrive Despite Them All By Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen

To learn more about Great by Choice, click here.

 

Ten years after the worldwide bestseller Good to Great, Jim Collins returns with another groundbreaking work, this time to ask: Why do some companies thrive in uncertainty, even chaos, and others do not? Based on nine years of research, buttressed by rigorous analysis and infused with engaging stories, Collins and his colleague, Morten Hansen, enumerate the principles for building a truly great enterprise in unpredictable, tumultuous, and fast-moving times.

 

The new study
Great by Choice distinguishes itself from Collins’s prior work by its focus not just on performance, but also on the type of unstable environments faced by leaders today.

 

With a team of more than twenty researchers, Collins and Hansen studied companies that rose to greatness—beating their industry indexes by a minimum of ten times over fifteen years—in environments characterized by big forces and rapid shifts that leaders could not predict or control. The research team then contrasted these “10X companies” to a carefully selected set of comparison companies that failed to achieve greatness in similarly extreme environments.

 

The new findings
The study results were full of provocative surprises. Such as:

 

  • The best leaders were not more risk taking, more visionary, and more creative than the comparisons; they were more disciplined, more empirical, and more paranoid.
  • Innovation by itself turns out not to be the trump card in a chaotic and uncertain world; more important is the ability to scale innovation, to blend creativity with discipline.
  • Following the belief that leading in a “fast world” always requires “fast decisions” and “fast action” is a good way to get killed.
  • The great companies changed less in reaction to a radically changing world than the comparison companies.

The authors challenge conventional wisdom with thought-provoking, sticky, and supremely practical concepts. They include: 10Xers; the 20 Mile March; Fire Bullets, Then Cannonballs; Leading above the Death Line; Zoom Out, Then Zoom In; and the SMaC Recipe.

 

Finally, in the last chapter, Collins and Hansen present their most provocative and original analysis: defining, quantifying, and studying the role of luck. The great companies and the leaders who built them were not luckier than the comparisons, but they did get a higher Return on Luck.

 

This book is classic Collins: contrarian, data-driven, and uplifting. He and Hansen show convincingly that, even in a chaotic and uncertain world, greatness happens by choice, not chance.

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