Good to Great…or Just Good?

Jim Collins, author of award-winning book Good to Great, identified eleven companies who he and his research team felt had taken the step to become ‘great’ organizations. He felt these eleven companies all possessed the following characteristics: use level five leadership, first who then what, confronting the brutal facts, the hedgehog concept, and the ability to build the company’s vision.

But as the article mentioned, how did the possession of these five characteristics make each company successful, Collins fails to explain this, he only says that each of the eleven companies have all five in common. Two other errors Collins and his team made were data mining and mistaking association for causation. Data mining is the process of collecting and searching for patterns in data and then once the patterns are found, using them to formulate explanations that are considered to be underlying causes or principles. So Collins found the patterns and then tried to use them to explain greatness, rather than explaining what makes a company great and then finding examples that would support his claim. The second problem with his research was his confusion between association and causation, which goes along with data mining, because he didn’t back up his finding with examples, but rather tried to tie the companies he thought were great to commonalities between them all.

I feel like the study is backwards, and many of the characteristics he mentions that determine whether or not a company is ‘great’ or just good are just products of a great system within a company. So he found great companies and looked at their make-up and then said that the reason why they were great was because they possessed such qualities, but in reality, the characteristics show because the company is already doing a great job.

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Published in: on October 20, 2009 at 8:18 PM  Leave a Comment  

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