Great by Choice by Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen
Nine years of research and amazing case studies that vividly illustrate what make the world’s best leaders and companies thrive even in the most uncertain and chaotic times make this an invaluable book for leaders. Collins and Hansen compare companies that started from a position of vulnerability and rose to become great to companies that faced a similar set of extreme circumstances but failed. Using the contrasting results, they uncover the distinguishing factors that allow the successful leaders and companies to thrive. They label the high-performing companies “10Xers” because they beat the industry index by at least 10 times.
Collins and Hansen dive deeply into the three core behaviors that distinguish 10Xers:
- Fanatic Discipline – extreme consistency of action; consistency of values, goals, performance standards, and methods.
- Empirical Creativity – when facing uncertainty, rely on empirical evidence: direct observation, practical experimentation, and direct engagement with tangible evidence.
- Productive Paranoia – maintain hypervigilance, stay highly attuned to threats and changes in the environment, and even when things are going well, have contingency plans and maintain margins of safety.
Additional lessons meticulously describe with case studies when and how to innovate and how to maximize good luck and be ready for bad luck, and they demonstrate how great companies change less in reaction to extreme circumstances. They stay true to who they are. The best leaders are not bigger risk takers, more visionary, or more creative. Instead, they are more disciplined, empirical, and paranoid. They focus on a blend of creativity and discipline to drive innovation.