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

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  16,271 ratings  ·  629 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 2011)
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Julian Georgescu You can read this book on google books if you buy it from them. Or on your phone.…more
You can read this book on google books if you buy it from them. Or on your phone.

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Loy Machedo
Feb 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing

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
Dec 05, 2011 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.
I liked the lessons this offered, but it felt a little... "toot my own horn" at the beginning, and it kind of turned me off a little. The historical examples, especially those involving the South Pole expeditions and the IMAX trip to Everest, were interesting reads.

3.5 stars, really.
Jonathan Cassie
Sep 03, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Chad Warner
Jan 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Stefan Kanev
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This short book talks about how to create a great company, which it takes to mean (1) performing 10X better than comparisons (2) in wildly uncertain environments. It's a pretty good and even contains some actionable things.

The authors pick a number of companies that outperform the market by 10x or more and compare them to a similar companies that don't. Examples are Intel vs. AMD, Microsoft vs. Apple (before Steve Jobs' return), Southwest vs. Pacific Southwest and so on. The key insights map pre
Rachel Bayles
Dec 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great, great, great! Go out and read immediately. A wonderfully hopeful and logic-based formula for progress.
Dec 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Tõnu Vahtra
Apr 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's not a bad book but it does not stand out like previous Collins books (Built to Last and From Good to Great), I did not find that much novel information from it. Furthermore I was a bit annoyed that the authors claimed about a massive research conducted for high number of companies but the actual results were barely mentioned (a few examples like Southwestern, Apple, Microsoft and Intel were used throughout the book, Amundsen's Sout Pole and Krakauer's "Into Thin Air" as historical case stud ...more
Paweł Skorupiński
Beware! This is a no BS book. I you prefer living fairytales about success, stay far away from it.
I tried out a few books about success before - but this one by experienced researchers of enterprise success is just so much better. First of all, it is not only based on a personal story (10X Rule) or just a subjective choice to support authors point (Bold), it is based on data coming from thorough comparative analysis of enterprises dealing with very specific market conditions. Second, the authors
Feb 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: leadership, business
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
Bartosz Majewski
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
You know those books you wish you'd read 4 years ago? For me that's one of them.

So that's my last book written by Jim Collins. It might be the best one. The book is about how to deal with uncertainty in business, sums up the attitude of business leaders, the framework of testing, avoiding risk, and planning.

Highly actionable, I've read it in 24 hours. Highly recommended.
David Solomon
Jun 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Another great insight into the world of successful companies and their leaders. So much to learn from!!!
Maksym Lysak
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Good book. Several core ideas are hard to prove wrong, thus the extent of how scientific these evidences are is questionable.
However, key things I took for myself:
1. Level 5 ambition leaders:
- passionately driven for a cause beyond themselves;
- doing it not for themselves, for the company (channel their ego to smth bigger than they)
2. Empirical Creativity:
- fire bullets, not cannibals (this idea intersects with SCRUM (Sutherland), Lean Startup (Ries), 4 Steps for Epiphany (Steve Blank)
- reasonin
Feb 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: business
Best takeaway was that luck is based on people. Get lucky with the people that you surround yourself with. The triangle framework of fanatic discipline, productive paranoia, and empirical creativity had some great backup evidence, but it's still unclear whether they can be trained or if they're developed from a young age / which case, how much can we really "choose"? The author seems to imply that Progressive insurance got lucky by having a 10x son (Peter Lewis) to takeover as CEO. I ...more
Nick Brown
Oct 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Tara Brabazon
May 08, 2018 rated it liked it
A heartening read.

This book demonstrates that luck does not create success. Innovation does not create success. Action and discipline are required. Indeed, the successful have three characteristics: Fanatic discipline, Empirical creativity and Productive paranoia.

In other words, hard work, data-based decision making and preparing for the worst are enabling forces for achievement.

Considering all the stuff about the fourth industrial revolution and the creative economy, this book demonstrates tha
Jacek Bartczak
Aug 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
The first impression (not only mine) which come up during reading this book - I'm not such crazy as I thought.

"Great by choice" presents a set of conclusions which:
- clarify the impact of factors like the luck preparation etc.,
- are easy to understand but hard to sustain on daily basis when you are tired, overwhelmed by duties or cannot think 100% clearly because of emotions.

The story about Andy Groove - the masterpiece which mind-blowed my thinking about how deeply things can be analysed.
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
This book might be one of the fundamentals that should be read when starting a business. Strategies of managing businesses gathered from the biggest companies in the world are in one piece here. What worked for them and what didn't work. There are rules that just work.
Angelo Pesce
Aug 22, 2019 rated it did not like it
Terrible, mostly padding and repetition, but what’s worse is that the “concepts” “discovered” are just empty buzzwords with no proven predictive power nor actionable advice. Read “the innovator’s solution” instead.
Ekkirala Vikramaditya
Great book illustrating companies that beat their environments and became great. A must read for all management students, researchers and practitioners alike. You can't resist the temptation to finish the book once you start
Andreas Broby
Dec 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is how every business book should be. Concise, empirical and well-written.
Matias Myllyrinne
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Summarized many of the things we know intrinsically to be true. Does it well based on data and empirical analysis, not feelings.

The book is easy going and quick to devour. Would recommend for those who seek to manage themselves well and to be reminded of the laws of nature and psychology in a nice package.

Expect no huge revelations or large innovations - but also enjoy the logic and a good flow of narrative around the subject.
Alex Schedrov
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It's a great mix of theory and practical examples. I started reading the book at the right moment of my life, so I immediately incorporated the 20-mile march which represents a great life principle.

I definitely recommend this book to business owners or people who want to start own company.
Dec 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great by choice, chance or both?
Some notes on “Great by Choice” of Jim Collins and Morten Hansen
Although this book has been written some years ago, the title is still thought provoking and readers like me that come across this book years after its publication cannot help it but see how applicable is the advice offered by the book not only to companies but also to individuals. Now let’s take a look at the notes related to each chapter.

1. 10Xers
The three attributes have been mentioned in this cha
Mike Ogilvie
Mar 20, 2012 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
Jun 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012-book-list
I was a little disappointed with this book, probably because I had such high expectations especially after Good to Great and How the Mighty Fall. Still, it was a really good read.

Some take-aways:

The book probes this question: Why do some companies thrive in uncertainty, even chaos, and others do not?

Some myths and contrary findings:

Myth: Successful leaders in a turbulent world are bold, risk-seeking visionaries.
Contrary Finding: The best leaders studied did not have a visionary ability to pr
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

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, including the classic BUILT TO LAST, wh

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