I’ve finally got round to reading Good to Great, many years after everybody else!
One of the entertaining things about reading a business book that’s nearly a decade old is seeing how it has aged. The comments about Fanny Mae revolutionising their business through the creation of mortgage backed securities was not a high point!
The bulk of the book is all pretty obvious and solid stuff: you need to get the right people in place first, once you’ve got the right people the strategy will emerge, you should focus on one thing as much as possible, you need to have a rigorous culture, etc.
I think my favourite comment was about the importance of “To Not Do” lists which in the author’s view is more important than the traditional To Do list.
I guess the other thing that came clear from reading the case studies is that no company goes from good to great very quickly. One of the CEO’s talks about a twenty year overnight success story.
Even step one – getting the people right – generally took a couple of years to do. The businesses tended to have high staff turnover for that initial period then very low turnover from then on.
As I spend more time working with our businesses I am personally finding it much more satisfying to try to help create a great business than simply to flip the business for cash.