I recently attended the Global Business Travel Association’s Masters Program with my brother Matt, our COO. While there, we had the privilege of hearing the Concur-sponsored keynote speaker, Jim Collins. Jim is the author of the book Good to Great, which, in my opinion, is one of the all-time great business books on how to build successful, enduring companies.
If you haven’t read his book, you should. If you haven’t attended the Masters Program, you should.
Jim’s remarks summarized some of his famous principles and I took notes as follows:
If you want your company to go from “Good to Great” you must identify how you are doing with regards to the following 12 questions:
1. Do I have the will to become a level 5 leader?
Leadership is the art of getting people to “want” to do what needs to be done
- Level 5 Executive – Inspires people to follow a cause
- Level 4 Effective Leader – Inspires people to follow them
- Level 3 Competent manager
- Level 2 Contributing team member
- Level 1 Highly capable individual
2. Are you humble?
Humility is a most important leadership trait.
3. Do you have the right people on the bus?
This is the single most critical executive decision you need to make with your leaders. Do your leaders have the necessary:
Great leadership isn’t worth much without exceptional unit leadership.
Great unit leaders are really good at building pockets of greatness.
4. What are the brutal facts?
Pick up the “rocks” and look at them underneath to see what needs to be fixed.
5. What do we understand about our hedgehog?
Click here for an explanation of Jim’s hedgehog concept.
Foxes love complexity.
Hedgehogs understand one big thing.
Simplify things, reduce concepts down to a simple concept.
Three things that play into your hedgehog strategy:
- What are you passionate about?
- What are you the best in the world at?
- What drives your economic engine?
6. How can you accelerate your flywheel by committing to a 20-mile march?
Two teams set out to get to the South Pole in 1911. They both left for the South Pole at the same time. Only one team made it there and back by committing to a 20-mile march EVERY day.
- Fanatical discipline
- Productive paranoia
- Empirical creativity
Once you get the flywheel moving, fine-tuned and growing, it can’t be stopped.
7. Where should you place your big bets?
How do you blend creativity and discipline?
Creativity is natural.
Discipline is not natural, it must be learned.
There is a difference between how the winners did innovation.
Those who didn’t win didn’t fire enough bullets.
First fire bullets, then cannon balls.
Keep trying things until you find something that works, then fire cannonballs.
8. What is your BHAG–your big hairy audacious goal?
The “goal” will stimulate progress.
Preserve the core while stimulating progress.
Change practices without changing core values.
9. What is the right 20% that you need to change and why?
10. How can we maximize our return on luck?
Level 5 leaders credited good luck for their success
Are the big winners luckier? No.
The winners got a higher return on their luck.
11. Do you show any stages of the five stages of decline:
- Hubris born of success
- Undisciplined pursuit of more
- Denial of risk and peril
- Grasping for salvation
- Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death
12. What should be on your “stop doing” list?
True discipline lies not in what we do, but to know what to stop doing.
What can we do to seek not to attain a good life, but instead a great life?