I am a big fan of Jim Collins. When I read Built to Last 10 years ago, I came away committed to being a leader who builds clocks more then simply tells time. His concepts from that book of being a hedgehog, and especially to preserve the core (values) and stimulate progress have guided me as a leader.
His book Good to Great affirmed my desire to be what he calls a Level 5 leader.
Saw while waiting for a flight from Delhi to Chicago to San Diego, and seeing his newest book Great by Choice on sale. I picked it up. You know it’s a good book, when on a day that featured 21 hours of plane time out of 24 1/2 hours, and you can stay awake to read it, then it has to be good. Indeed, it was great.
Collins writing style is based on research he has done with comparison companies. Same industry, 2 companies. One thrives, the other does not. His research seeks to answer why? As the subtitle of the book says: “Uncertainty, chaos, and luck why some thrive despite them all.”
Leaders of the companies that thrive are nicknamed, “10xers” for they led consistent growth over 15+ years. Each company that fit this category outperformed its industry by 10x.
Such leaders demonstrate:
1. Fanatic Discipline: Consistent action based on core values, goals, and methods. They are consistent in their commitment to growth. They don’t look merely for one exceptional year, but consistent growth that fits who they are.
2. Empirical Creativity: They rely on direct observation. They fire bullets, then canon balls. Instead of making the initial big investment. They test and calibrate with small case studies, and then when they hit the target, they fire the “cannon ball”, the big initiative they have discovered that works.
3. Productive Paranoia: They prepare for the worst, and navigate their way through chaos. When tough times come (and they will come), they have prepared the work to do to lead their company/organization forward.
Such leadership is done with humility (a tie into Good to Great).
What I like about Collins writing in this book and his others is his ability to look at the data of his research and discover practical principles to apply to business, organizations, and yes churches as well as one’s life. He communicates this information not with simply stale data, but connecting it with lessons from life. He begins with the story of Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott’s attempts to reach the south pole. Amundsen accomplished his goal, Scott’s attempt ended in disaster.
For a long flight home, Collins book was a great read. For navigating these times of chaos, Collins book was an essential read.
What lessons are you learning to navigate chaotic times?