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

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  9,732 Ratings  ·  418 Reviews
Ten years after the worldwide bestseller Good to Great, Jim Collins returns withanother groundbreaking work, this time to ask: why do some companies thrive inuncertainty, even chaos, and others do not? Based on nine years of research,buttressed by rigorous analysis and infused with engaging stories, Collins andhis colleague Morten Hansen enumerate the principles for buildi ...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published October 11th 2011 by HarperBusiness (first published January 1st 2011)
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Dec 06, 2011 Morgan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It's really 183 pages (the rest is just research notes). The whole book is summarized on page 175. There's some interesting anecdotes and the ideas make sense, but this is a very slight (as in not very deep) book. What makes a company great is that they do deep analysis of the business, prepare, take advantage of success without endangering the company, re-evaluate periodically, and work steadily for success, making adjustments if necessary.
Loy Machedo
Feb 14, 2012 Loy Machedo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

What were some of the most shocking / memorable incidents you can recollect since the last 10 years?
• 9/11?
• The Financial Meltdown? Lehman Brothers? Billions getting wiped out?
• The iPod, iPad, iPhone revolution?

A lot has happened in the last 10 years.

Giants who were invincible are now forever invisible.
The corporations with abundant financial health are today on a dying life support system.
The mortal legends whom we always remembered have become the immortal legacies we will never forget.

So mu
Jonathan Cassie
I am a huge admirer of Jim Collins' research, methods and tight, accessible, methodical writing. "Great By Choice," however, suggests that perhaps the scholarly architecture that made his previous work so great may be losing a bit of its strength. There's a bit of a teabag on its third cup of tea here. The core thesis seems less powerful. The evidence just as good and rich, but in the service of smaller objectives. The narrative less nuanced. Well worth reading, but not as provocative as Collins ...more
Khánh Trình
Tư tưởng quản trị của quyển sách không có gì mới mẻ, không gây tác động mạnh đến người đọc. Chung qui lại để thành công, bất kì nhà lãnh đạo nào cũng cần có sự chuẩn bị, chuẩn bị mọi lúc, chuẩn bị cho trường hợp bất khả - khủng hoảng là điều cần thiết và dễ hiểu,nhưng chuẩn bị sau khi đã mình đã thành công thì không phải ai cũng "nhớ" để mà làm, cái say men chiến thắng cũng tệ hại không kém việc thiếu cẩn trọng trong thời kì suy thoái.

Tạp chí Wallstreet Journal review quyển này như sau: "Collins
Chris Ross
I listened to the audio book narrated by Jim Collins himself. From the very beginning when Jim said he would be reading the book for us rather than narrating his own book I was not impressed and not looking forward listening to him read his own book to us. Normally I am not a fan of authors reading their own books though I don't think anybody else could have read the book with as much passion or done the book as much justice as Jim Collins did! The book uses great, real world examples of compani ...more
Jan 23, 2012 Nicole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The fourth book in the series of business management studies by Jim Collins and his colleagues. Built to Last was the first, followed by Good to Great and How the Mighty Fall.

In a quote from the book jacket, Great by Choice is the result of a study of "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." According to the authors, the
Jul 04, 2013 Rohan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: entrepreneurship
I wish I had not read Black Swan and other books by Authors like Malcolm Gladwell. Because even though there are some real good points throughout this book and even though I like Jim Collins, most of the concepts throughout the book sounded repetitive to me. And even worst is the fact that I started questioning almost every research the Author claims to have done to come to the conclusions he has.

This feeling stayed with me for most of the book: Things he talks about AMD vs Intel and about Micr
Feb 21, 2012 Jane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business, leadership
The concepts in this book are solid. The text seemed somewhat repetitive. Not only that, but just about all of their findings about what distinguishes companies that blow away the competition even in tough times are simply rigorous application of the theory of what works. Zoom out, zoom in? Use both Sensing and Intuition. SMaC? Keeping what works is the strength of those who prefer Introversion and Sensing, and further, is often seen as "resistance" by leaders with other preferences. I've never ...more
David Solomon
Jun 27, 2016 David Solomon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another great insight into the world of successful companies and their leaders. So much to learn from!!!
I had read a few book by Jim Collins before and the things that make his books different are

A. A very superb articulation and clean thoughts communicated like an Apple design.

B. analogy is simple and easy to remember.

C. Lots of data is crunched and put across like a Raja ravi varma painting.

D. He is like a Rembrandt with the data that is present.

Now the book Great by Choice is about companies that are called as 10Xers which means the companies that have given returns more than 10 times than tha
Danny Stokes
Jun 08, 2015 Danny Stokes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really good book. Jim Collins has the unique ability to take analytical, empirical research data and couple it with intriguing stories which keep you engaged and learning what makes a great leader and a great company.
Alaeddin Hallak
The key message of this book is:
The most successful companies don’t let chance determine their fate. They are obsessive in their preparation, ensure that they have the evidence to back up their decisions, and practice the discipline to continue with their plans through both good times and bad. It’s this mixture of consistency and evidence-based analysis that allows some companies show long-term success in a chaotic world.
Neither luck nor chance are the reasons why some companies become great. Ev
Mar 23, 2012 Keith rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
All this certainly makes sense, but it could have been put into a white paper instead of a book. I've only read this and Good to Great, but the other two books are mentioned quite frequently. In total, I think Collins' research points out the essential things that make companies great, but I'm not sure they can be replicated by most companies. At the heart of companies that Collins identifies as great, are great leaders. Not talking necessarily about charismatic leaders, but those still, these a ...more
Chad Warner
Jan 18, 2012 Chad Warner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chad by: Holland Chamber of Commerce
This book is an engaging exploration of why some companies become great while others don't, despite experiencing similar uncertainty, chaos, and “luck”. It shows that greatness depends on action and discipline, not circumstance or luck. Essentially, success depends more on what we do than what the world does to us. This finding is encouraging and empowering, since we often feel that we’re at the mercy of forces outside our control.

I liked the point that one of the most important forms of luck is
Mike Ogilvie
Apr 04, 2012 Mike Ogilvie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business-helpful
In some ways Great by Choice is similar to other books I've read on running a business. The advice and strategies are spot-on and undeniably the right course of action if you want your business to become great (particularly through turbulent times). In other ways, this book is much better - it deals with more fundamental aspects of how to sustain a business, the importance of preparation, and overall a general attitude that should be adopted.

The core concept of the book revolves around preparin
Karen Jett
Mar 02, 2012 Karen Jett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book answers the question why some companies thrive while others grow sporadically when facing the same economic conditions.

Jim Collins breaks it down into 5 basic strategies:
20 Mile March
Fire Bullets, Then Cannonballs
Leading above the Death Line

The two that were most memorable and important to me (though they are all intertwined in the end) are:
Fire bullets, then cannonballs and SMac.

The bullets / cannonballs analogy has to do with responding to opportunities. The great companie
Joe Robles
Dec 11, 2011 Joe Robles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: executive-shelf
We live in chaotic business times. Wouldn't it be great to have a guide book on how to handle things? Well, here it is.

I love when I read a book, and it inspires me to read other books. I've never wanted to read about the race to the South Pole, but now I do. Climbing Everest, never interested me before, now I'm adding books to my queue.

The biggest takeaway from this book is that preparation is important. You can't be prepared for every disaster, but being ready for *A* disaster will help you su
Jun 29, 2013 Joel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Doesn't everyone choose to be great? Not even close. You might say it's the difference between wanting and being. In Great by Choice, Collins continues his search for the source of business greatness. Much of the book centers on what it takes to be a "10Xer"---a leader or business that demonstrates a level of success multiples greater than peers.

Three concepts dominate: productive paranoia, empirical creativity, and fanatic discipline, which are bound in the middle by ambitious leaders. Producti
Dec 25, 2012 Tom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Collins, Jim and Morten T. Hansen (2011) Great by Choice, Harper Business, New York, NY. In this book, Jim Collins compares 7 companies that have performed extraordinarily well during times of great turbulence and uncertainty, while 7 comparison companies in the same industries under the same conditions were not able to perform as well. He calls the high-performing companies the “10Xers” because they outperform comparison companies by an average of 10 times better. The practices of the 7 compani ...more
Feb 12, 2012 Shaun rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a quick read for me and very inspiring. I've loved the other Jim Collins' books, including Good to Great, which is a must read for anyone in business. In this book he compares companies that have strived in uncertainty, or companies that did 10 times better than most companies in the same timeframe. He calls these companies 10Xers and they are as follows: Amgen, Biomet, Intel, Microsoft, Progressive Insurance, Southwest Airlines and Stryker. He also relates the story of Roald Amundsen's ...more
Dec 24, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
It usually takes some persistence for me to build momentum enough to read books in this genre. This one was recommended by a mentor at just the right time. There were many kernels of wisdom and interesting takeaways from Collins’ research. If you are interested in leadership, this is a read I recommend. “Greatness is not primarily a matter of circumstance; greatness is first and foremost a matter of conscious choice and discipline.”

SPOILER ALERT: I chose to give the following synopsis as part of
Nick Brown
Oct 30, 2011 Nick Brown rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow another classic from Jim Collins! Great by Choice is a definite read for anybody trying to make an effect change in the world through organizations and companies.

This time around Jim is joined by University of California Berkeley Business Professor Morten Hansen as they work to answer the question, "Why do some companies thrive in uncertainty, even chaos, and others do not?" To answer this question both Collins and Morten use the matched-pair case method in which they pair a 10Xer or high fl
Apr 18, 2016 Kenny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
these types of books cherrypick examples that suit their narrative. the concepts that he preaches are fancy business jargon for "slow and steady wins the race" (fanatic discipline), "fail fast, cheap and often" ( empirical creativity) and "assess risk / don't be stupid" (productive paranoia).

that said, this book has done a really good job of presenting the relevant data and examples. lots to learn from it, and recommended for anyone seeking to be a more effective leader.
Taylor Ellwood
Sep 19, 2014 Taylor Ellwood rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
Great by Choice continues the fine tradition of work and business excellence that is described in Built to Last and Good to Great. If you are a business owner that wants to understand what makes a business great, as well as learn how to implement those standards this book will provide further insights and ideas on what you can do to make your business great. The authors draw on excellent case studies to show what works and what doesn't work as well as explain why. I've already gotten a lot of gr ...more
Jul 10, 2016 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed Good to Great, and I think this makes for a wonderful follow up (though I know I still need to read "How the Mighty Fall"). I loved the direct descriptions of qualities of the "10x"ers and the connections to level 5 leaders from GtoG. The three key points I want to remember from this:

1) Productive Paronia
2) Empirical Creativity
3) Fanatic Discipline
4) Level 5 ambition

The authors explored these themes through many stories of the comparison companies, and teased out lots of int
Jul 09, 2016 Vipul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jim Collins explains the concept very patiently, in simple terms, by giving real-time examples. The research that his team has done is commendable.

What has made some companies thrive in uncertainty and chaos? he answers this question by boiling down to three crucial points which make perfect sense
- Fanatic Discipline
- Empirical Creativity
- Productive Paranoia

While a study like this can be very boring for most (even for me who loves business management genre of non-fiction) Jim Collins beautiful
Henri Quin
Feb 16, 2015 Henri Quin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some books, when you start to read them , give you the feeling you are levitating, ... you feel excited, and your life from then on takes a slightly different direction, you have a new compass , more accurate, and certain phrases in the book stick in your mind and become part of your own inner vocabulary, and after you have recommended the book to the person who sees what you see, you develop a common vocabulary . That's how it was for me with The 20 Mile March , and Fire Bullets Then Cannonball ...more
Aug 05, 2014 Andy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting yet boring, lacking in scientific rigor.

This isn't exactly a page turner. It's an analysis of corporations and some opinions on what made them successful while their competitors struggled in the same situations. Framed from the perspective of corporations, the advice loses its human value and becomes a chore to take in. If you want to build the next big giant company, these might be some guidelines to start from. Those aren't part of my personal goals, so the advice is hard to relate
Shorel Kleinert
May 04, 2016 Shorel Kleinert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economic-track
I admit, this is my first Jim Collins book. It just happened to be at the local library and so I grabbed it first.

Really great concepts on the factors of choice that contribute to great businesses.

1. 20 mile March - make sure progress, not too much and not too little, every day regardless of weather.
2. Fire bullets, then cannonballs - make many low cost and fast test shots to find what works, then lob the cannonball
3. Leading above the death line - have reserves built up to weather the storms
Mar 11, 2012 Beth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my favorite business books! I love how he references Roald Amundsen and Robert Scott, the arctic explorer to show the differences in choices they made. One made choices that that took his team to death, and the other made very different choices and led his team to be the first to reach the South Pole. Seeing those small decisions were so transferable to choices we make each and every day.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Jim Collins is a student and teacher of enduring great companies — how they grow, how they attain superior performance, and how good companies can become great companies. Having invested over a decade of research into the topic, Jim has authored or co-authored four books, i
More about James C. Collins...

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“Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity To seize everything you ever wanted in one moment Would you capture it? Or just let it slip?” —Marshall Bruce Mathers III, “Lose Yourself”1” 5 likes
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