Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Book Review: Good to Great

I recently finished listening to Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...and Others Don't. In it the author, Jim Collins, combs through years of data to find 11 companies who've made the jump from good to great. Those 11 companies were Abbot Labs, Circuit City, Fannie Mae, Gillette, Kimberly-Clark, Kroger, Nucor, Philip Morris, Pitney Bowes, Walgreens, and Wells Fargo of which Circuit City and Fannie Mae's inclusions really made me laugh due to their recent troubles. However you have to take it with two grains of salt 1) the book was written in 2001 and 2) they had a great run before they lost their way.

My favourite part about the book was the Hedgehog Concept:
You’ll know that you’re getting closer to your Hedgehog Concept when you align three intersecting circles that represent three pivotal questions: What can we be the best in the world at? (And equally important—what can we not be the best at?) What is the economic denominator that best drives our economic engine (profit or cash flow per “x”)? And what are our core people deeply passionate about? Answer those three questions honestly, facing the brutal facts without blinking, and you’ll begin to see your Hedgehog Concept emerge.

As I was listening to the book it struck me that the hedgehog concept could work not only for businesses but for individuals as well. If you can find something that you are passionate about, that you are skilled at and can make a living at you will be a happier person. Sometimes this means giving up that high paying job for something that you enjoy doing more. In the long run you'll be more successful. If you don't believe me you should read Jonathan Coulton's bio.

Anyway, it's a great book and it's well worth the listen from a personal standpoint even if you are not a Fortune 500 CEO.

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