Book Review: "Good to Great"

Essential Principles

I. Define your Level 5 Leaders

1.     You must put in place leaders who have “personal humility” and “professional will.” The leaders are focused upon inward humility but have an outward aspiration to be excellent in their work. 2.     You must get the right people “on the bus” if it will end up in the correct destination. 3.     Confronting the “brutal facts” is the only way to achieve greatness in any organization. 4.     Level 5 leaders look out for the interest of the organization before themselves. 5.     Do not hire someone who is not a fit for the job.

II. The Hedgehog Principle

1.     This process is to clearly communicate the simple and understandable meaning of the business. 2.     A healthy organization makes money, is passionate and has self-discipline. 3.     Technology is not the focus but is used as a motivator for change.

III. Culture of Discipline

1.     Great companies have a spirit of sacrifice and discipline. 2.     The structure of discipline helps build a culture that helps people live out their vision for the organization. 3.     The “stop doing” list was a fascinating approach to helping the organization lead people to greatness and not mediocrity.

VII. Strengths

1.     This book is a clear presentation for businesses to be streamlined and focused upon principles for growth. 2.     The communication of resisting apathy was felt throughout the book. 3.     It conveyed the importance of leadership setting the tone and direction for any organization. 4.     Biblical principles can be transferred into the business world and this book highlighted them well.

VIII. Weaknesses

1. The book was written mainly to businesses and it is hard to apply some principles into the church world. 2. It was somewhat hard to follow and used explanations of “great” companies that were secular with no mission for the gospel.

Personal Assessment

Good to Great has a great starting point for setting the strategy, “Good is the enemy of great” (Collins, 1).  Jim Collins displays a clear presentation of the need for leaders and organizations to achieve greatness over mediocrity. This book is written more along the lines of businesses, but some aspects can be transferred into the church organization. To understand what great really is, one must define it. Collins explains, “the crucial question in our study is not, what did the good-to-great companies share in common that distinguished them from the comparison companies?”(Collins, 7). From the explanation of the book, greatness is much more than an idea, but it is a conscious choice.

The emphasis is upon making a choice of unwavering commitment to excellence within all aspects of the organization. Collins characterizes the Level 5 leader as, "a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will." Collins is focusing on the importance of the motivation and skills of leadership. This principle, although not backed by specific scripture, can be applied under the realm of Christian leadership. The relevant topic that stood out to me was the leaders (level 5) always put the needs of the people of the company before their own. It reminds me of servant leadership and the example that Christ left the disciples at the Last supper (Luke 22). Humility was another character trait that is applicable to God’s Word (Philippians 2:8).

The book to me was not applicable as much to leadership in the church as the earlier books we have read. The emphasis is upon human leadership more so than the Holy Spirit’s power. I have heard Jim Collins speak and he is intelligent and engaging but this book would be more fitting in a business class. I prefer to look at the thought of “good to great” more along the lines of “character leads to excellence.” Churches must become unsatisfied with the status quo to improve but not at the cost of making it man-made. There were gems of wisdom found throughout the book but found the business strategy quite irrelevant to Christian leadership.

Overall, Good to Great was a research-based book on business principles. I would agree that it can be helpful in the church, but I would rather spend my time reading Simple Church or Purpose Driven Church to find help and insights into leadership. The thesis of this book is important to remind oneself of not becoming mundane or comfortable, but to strive for God’s glory in everything.