Good to GreatGood to Great is one of the business books that I’ve heard many people talk about and since Kendra had to read some of it in college, we happened to have a copy lying around. I haven’t read many business books, but I really enjoy talking to entrepreneurs and business people because their world is so different from my own. This puts me in the place of the constant student; there’s always something that I can learn from those in business. I am incredibly glad I decided to read it.


Good to Great is truly a great book. I don’t think the “American Dream” is having a house with a white picket fence anymore, I think the dream is to be part of something awesome. This book does a great job of going through companies that fit into this category (even if I don’t particularly like what they’re selling). This book presents the findings of a multi-year study that have pretty interesting ramifications on the way people do and should think about business. Beyond the business side, though, I find Good to Great to be surprisingly beneficial for an individual, non-entrepreneur.

The Gist of It

James Collins wrote a book before this one called Built to Last, that showed how some new companies laid the groundwork for having enduring greatness from the very beginning of their inception. Good to Great was written for the rest of us. What if our hypothetical companies didn’t start out great? Can we get there? The research follows companies that were mediocre or absolutely failing, yet turned it around and became something truly special. They’ve distilled down the things that they all had in common. Here are the things they had in common:

1) Level 5 Leaders. People who put the success of the company above their own ambitions.

2) Focus on the right people before the right business direction

3) Unwavering faith in their ability to succeed even if the current reality is negative, never ignoring the hard facts.

4) A unified vision that they adhere to (the “Hedgehog Concept”) in all of their actions.

5) A company culture of discipline.

6) Utilizing technology to accelerate momentum. Note: It can’t be used to create the movement.

If I had to summarize the entire book into one sentence it would be this:

“Surround yourself with the right people, find your singular focus, and foster the passion for that focus to attain greatness.”

My Takeaways

This book is almost entirely about having the right people around you, from the executives in a company to the lowliest of laborers in the company. Having people who share the same core values and vision allows you to become great, so long as you don’t deviate from your “Hedgehog Concept”. I’ve been thinking about the people I surround myself with for a few months now, so that wasn’t as profound for me as it could have been a short while ago.

The “Hedgehog Concept” is probably the most profound thing that I was able to take away from this book. I’ve become more and more focused on achieving goals recently, but I’m still finding it hard to decide what my goals should be. I really think the “Hedgehog Concept” is going to help that. The idea is that you find something that meets all of these criteria:

1) You can be the best in the world at.

2) It works towards your statistic for success (“economic denominator”)

3) You are passionate about it.

After you’ve found the intersection of those three criteria – your Hedgehog Concept – you can base all of your decisions around whether or not they contribute to you making progress towards that goal. Our culture is one of everyone being incredibly busy, but getting so very little done. I think working to find this central focus to what we do could truly help people feel more fulfilled.

Moving forward, I’m going to be making sure I’ve surrounded myself with the right people and striving to find my “Hedgehog Concept”. I’ll be using another thing I picked up from this book to keep my focus high, the “stop doing” list.