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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  ·  7,813 ratings  ·  356 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

Kindle Edition, 183 pages
Published October 11th 2011 by HarperBusiness (first published January 1st 2011)
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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
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.
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
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
Danny Stokes
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.
Lucas Nguyen
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
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
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
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:
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Henri Quin
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
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
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.
I haven't read one of these kinds of books in awhile and I found it to be pretty underwhelming. While I thought the companies highlighted were very interesting and I appreciated the range of analysis (20 mile march, innovation, bullet then cannonballs, risk, SMaC, etc.), I just found the differences between the 10x companies and their comparisons to be arbitrary. I feel like the difference in long-term performance can be caused by numerous factors - it seemed odd to single-out these factors. Wou ...more
Steve Goodyear
This is an interesting and quick read. I enjoyed the ideas and perspectives Collins offered and how much reflecting they offered me.

In the epilogue, he writes, “We sense a dangerous disease infecting our modern culture and eroding hope: an increasingly prevalent view that greatness owes more to circumstance, even luck, than to action and discipline—that what happens to us matters more than what we do.” He then goes on to say, “...greatness is first and foremost a matter of conscious choice and d
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
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..
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.
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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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...
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 Good to Great and the Social Sectors: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great Turning Goals Into Results

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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
“Victory awaits him who has everything in order—luck people call it. Defeat is certain for him who has neglected to take the necessary precautions in time; this is called bad luck.” —Roald Amundsen, The South Pole” 2 likes
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