Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck--Why Some Thrive Despite Them All

    By Jim Collins, Morten T Hansen
The new question:

Ten years after the worldwide bestseller Good to Great, Jim Collins returns with another groundbreaking work, this time to ask: Why do some companies thrive in uncertainty, even chaos, and others do not? Based on nine years of research, buttressed by rigorous analysis and infused with engaging stories, Collins and his colleague, Morten Hansen, enumerate the principles for building a truly great enterprise in unpredictable, tumultuous, and fast-moving times.

The new study:

Great by Choice distinguishes itself from Collins’s prior work by its focus not just on performance, but also on the type of unstable environments faced by leaders today.

With a team of more than twenty researchers, Collins and Hansen studied companies that rose to greatness—beating their industry indexes by a minimum of ten times over fifteen years—in environments characterized by big forces and rapid shifts that leaders could not predict or control. The research team then contrasted these “10X companies” to a carefully selected set of comparison companies that failed to achieve greatness in similarly extreme environments.

The new findings
The study results were full of provocative surprises. Such as:

  • The best leaders were not more risk taking, more visionary, and more creative than the comparisons; they were more disciplined, more empirical, and more paranoid.
  • Innovation by itself turns out not to be the trump card in a chaotic and uncertain world; more important is the ability to scale innovation, to blend creativity with discipline.
  • Following the belief that leading in a “fast world” always requires “fast decisions” and “fast action” is a good way to get killed.
  • The great companies changed less in reaction to a radically changing world than the comparison companies.

The authors challenge conventional wisdom with thought-provoking, sticky, and supremely practical concepts. They include: 10Xers; the 20 Mile March; Fire Bullets, Then Cannonballs; Leading above the Death Line; Zoom Out, Then Zoom In; and the SMaC Recipe.

Finally, in the last chapter, Collins and Hansen present their most provocative and original analysis: defining, quantifying, and studying the role of luck. The great companies and the leaders who built them were not luckier than the comparisons, but they did get a higher Return on Luck.


BusinessEconomicsFinance
    ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Jim Collins is a student of companies--great ones, good ones, weak ones, failed ones--from young start-ups to venerable sesquicentenarians. The author of the national bestseller "Good to Great" and coauthor of "Built to Last", he serves as a teacher to leaders throughout the corporate and social sectors. His work has been featured in "Fortune", "BusinessWeek", "The Economist", "USA Today", and "Harvard Business Review". Morten T. Hansen is a management professor at the University of California, Berkeley (School of Information), and at INSEAD. Formerly a professor at Harvard Business School, Morten holds a PhD from Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he was a Fulbright scholar. He is the author of Collaboration and the winner of the Administrative Science Quarterly Award for exceptional contributions to the field of organization studies. Previously a manager with the Boston Consulting Group, Morten consults and gives talks for companies worldwide.

    REVIEW QUOTES

"A sensible, well-timed and precisely targeted message for companies shaken by macroeconomic crises"--Financial Times


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Publisher HarperBusiness
Pages 304
Availability Available
Published 10/2011
Language English