I am finally feeling like I’m back among the living. I managed to preach Sunday and make it through a staff meeting…but other than that I’ve pretty much been wiped out for the last week. It turns out that I had some kind a weird virus that caused most all of the symptoms. All I know is that by Friday I was in pretty bad shape. I basically just shut down and stayed n the bed for about six days straight…which really stunk!!!
My "time off" did give me an opportunity to read a book "everyone" has been talking about…"Good To Great" by Jim Collins. What a colossal pile of crap! I can’t decide what was worse…not keeping down any food for three days, having an eye swollen shut, breaking off a tooth or wading through several hundred pages of that mindless written dribble? As I was reading it I kept thinking, "From what hand holding, singing ‘Kum Ba Yah’ around the campfire, tree hugging, Oprah episode did Collins get this feel good garbage from?" It is nothing more than a cheerleader skirt and pompoms bound in a hard cover…pure fluff!!! Only someone that has no real business experience would take it as a serious leadership book!
Strictly from a business sense…the majority of these companies that made the leap from good to great…only did it in the short term. All but Walgreens, Kroger and Wells Fargo are now in serious decline. Some are borrowing millions of dollars to keep their heads above water. Others are being besieged by legitimate class action suits. Still others are being investigated for securities and accounting fraud. All of them (except the ones listed above) have had their stocks sharply decline or free fall since the book was written. The simple business conclusion is that the principles of "Good To Great" only work for a short time…they have no real lasting positive effect.
From a leadership stand point the examples they used to derive the principles for "Good To Great" companies are a joke!!! It’s hard to take the principle of a CEO with "personal humility and professional will" seriously when you know that said CEO had millions of dollars in incentives, large salaries (hurting the bottom line) and multi-million dollar golden parachutes if the ship still sunk. To use a word like "humility" with a leader like that is just plain hilarious!
I guess I was most taken back with the principle of eliminating weak people, adding top performing ones, and establishing a culture of top talent putting out extraordinary effort. In this process very few CEOs or upper management were affected. It was mainly the blue collar workers and lower echelon "Joe Public" people that had their jobs slashed…their lives and families forever changed while the "great" leaders made it in a book. I realize that companies have to make cuts…but it is never a "good or great" company that has to do it…always a struggling, sinking one!
The only principle I could totally agree with is using facts to develop a simple concept that is iteratively reconsidered to focus action on improving performance. So let’s look at the facts about "Good To Great" by Jim Collins. Only three of the companies he focused on as "great" companies can still retain that title (in reality the jury is still out on Kroger). The cold hard facts prove that "good to great" principles work for company in a sprint…that only want to react to the now for positive effect in the short term…but they have no bearing on those companies that are in it for the long haul.
So the facts are that the majority of the companies featured in "Good To Great" are no longer great and the principles have been proven to have no merit in the long haul. So the improved performance we can derive from these facts…throw the book in the trash…it’s a waste of money!!!