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

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  5,899 ratings  ·  323 reviews

The new question: Ten years after the worldwide bestseller "Good to Great," Jim Collins returns to ask: Why do some companies thrive in uncertainty, even chaos, and others do not? In "Great by Choice," Collins and his colleague, Morten T. Hansen, enumerate the principles for building a truly great enterprise in unpredictable, tumultuous, and fast-moving times.

The new st

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Kindle Edition, 183 pages
Published October 11th 2011 by HarperBusiness (first published January 1st 2011)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Loy Machedo

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
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Morgan
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.
Nicole
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
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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
Keith
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 4 of 5 stars
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
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Mike Ogilvie
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
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Karen Jett
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:
10Xers
20 Mile March
Fire Bullets, Then Cannonballs
Leading above the Death Line
SMaC

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
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Joe Robles
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
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Joel
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
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Tom
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
Shaun
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
Rohan
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
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Jennifer
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
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Nick Brown
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
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Jane
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
Jon 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
Andy
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
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Beth
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.
Sheila
A respected colleague of mine recommended this book to me and I thought it was a wonderful read!

Collins and Hansen make compelling arguments as to why certain companies (of similar industry, age, and circumstances as their counterparts) outperform others over 10 times. These companies (called the 10xers) possess certain traits that have resulted in success.

These are:
Fanatic Discipline (demonstrating the same level of discipline through good times and bad to maintain a level-headed approach to
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Dan Graham
Some of the takeaways were decent but I had a really hard time with a lot of the jumps Collins makes without good data explanations. Maybe the data is there in the background but a lot of his conclusions seems forced and without solid logic.
Samuel Premkumar
Great, "back-to-basics" book. No MBAish clutter, words and phrases. Felt like a Japanese book....
Fanatic discipline(process), Empirical creativity (thinking) and productive paranoia(planning)
Hence a nice back to the basic book..
Jimmy
I really like the entire series of these books. While they are not super entertaining, they actually do contain some good "meat" that you can apply to your business rather than so much of the fluff that's out there.
Patrick
This book is a supplement to Collins other works, Built to Last, Good to Great, and How the Mighty Fall.

In this project, he and his co-author, Morton Hamilton, examine how companies fare and even thrive in industries that are rife with uncertainty, chaos, and wild changes. They then found the common characteristics of those companies that helped them exceed their industry average by more than 10X.

I enjoyed hearing how companies took their futures into their own hands. I enjoyed hearing how they
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Kevin Eikenberry
If you have read Jim’s previous mega-bestsellers, Built to Last and Good to Great, you know the formula. If haven’t, know that the premise for this book was reached through extensive research.

The research in this book is so extensive (a major strength) that the data researched ends in 2002 (a bit of a disappointment). I found myself often reminding myself of that 9 year gap as a read – because the fortunes and trajectories of many of the companies researched have changed drastically since 2002 (
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Taylor Ellwood
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
Abdullah Addar
Once again, Dr Collins gives an interesting study of great management, the book highlights basic concepts of why certain companies are great in direct comparison to others. Great detail is given which acts as some sort of a useful guide when situations occur in real life. At the end the concepts I believe are well known, but reading the book really acts to make you comprehend & hopefully apply these concepts & ultimately benefit from them. I especially enjoyed the ROL section, "return on ...more
Anthony
I thought it had some good information but tended to repeat some of the topics from Good to Great.
Shelly Nelson
I really liked the examination of the different ways in which 10xrs think. The compare and contrast to other great leaders really helps to make these selected 10xrs stand out. The principle behavior traits organized into the 4 quadrants helped give the book a frame of reference of what makes an exceptional leader different from a great leader. I would have enjoyed it more if there were some female 10xrs as this would have been insightful to understand if there are other factors involved, or not, ...more
Laura
The authors of "Good to Great" penned this book some while after the former. It is, in some ways, a follow up, but I think they mainly wanted to target the extreme cases of explosive success for companies like Apple, Progressive, Microsoft and Southwest Airlines. I enjoyed learning about the unique traits these CEO's like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs displayed - one example being prepared paranoia. Much like an expedition leader hiking with his team through Antarctica, these CEO's prepare for the w ...more
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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
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More about Jim Collins...
Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In Turning Goals Into Results Good to Great and the Social Sectors: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great

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