Sandy's Reviews > Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't

Good to Great by James C. Collins
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's review
Jan 27, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: business
Read in February, 2009

I hope I don't get fired for not thinking this was the greatest book ever. Honestly, business books are not exactly my cup of tea. This book started off really interesting. The author talks about habits that great companies use to keep their companies run smoothly. Many of the suggestions the author gives seem very logical -- don't have negative people work for your company, don't try to put your hand in every pot, don't stop doing things that work well and do stop doing things that aren't working, etc.

I had two major concerns with this book. First was simply the manner in which it was written. The author spent hundreds of pages explaining what could have been explained much more succinctly. It's similar to my thesis. My completed thesis was 60+ pages, but the article I wrote to be published in a journal (which consists of the same material, more or less) was only about 15 pages. I would be more interested in this book if it was written in "journal" form, allowing me to cut out the redundancy. To the author's credit, however, I appreciated that he did give examples, as often I was very confused by his explanation of the concept, and wouldn't have understood without his providing an example they found in one of the companies.

My second major concern was the methodology. The author utilizes no scientific method for gathering data, but instead utilizes a "panning for gold" approach: throw everything into the pot and see what comes out. That, combined with overwhelming hindsight bias, makes me extremely suspicious of any and every conclusion drawn in the book. While reading this book, I was reminded of one of my undergraduate teachers explaining the advantage that Freud had as an early psychologist: because of his theories, he could not be proven wrong. How do you prove that someone isn't in denial? How do you prove that someone isn't obsessed with his mother? Likewise, how do you prove that these theories proposed by Jim Collins actually work? Indeed, Collins later predicts, at the end of his book, that any company that STOPS abiding by the principles he outlines will fail. With his "interesting" methodology, I doubt that his principles would have a causal link to either success or failure. I expect that many companies fail, and that many companies are very successful, without regard to his theories. In addition, a problem with his methodology is that he measured "greatness" by a company's sustained stock market value being a certain percentage (150%) above the general market--what about private companies? How can a private company measure greatness if that is the standard?

So, overall, I enjoyed this book at the beginning and became bored with it by the end. I think there are some good principles that can be pulled out of it, but I fear that some companies will take this book too much to heart and let other important factors slip.

Rob, please don't fire me. :)
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Reading Progress

11/13 page 17
5.31% "I'm trying to reserve judgment until I read more... :)"
07/07 marked as: read

Comments <span class="smallText"> (showing 1-2 of 2) </span> <span class="smallText">(2 new)</span>

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André Pinto I hope you were not fired! Great review

message 2: by Alfred (new)

Alfred I have the same hope. This book becomes disgusting when the author mentioned the word empirical.

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