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Jim Collins has been taking quite a beating in the news recently for a lot of what he wrote about in Good to Great and Built to Last. As it turns out, much of what he praised companies like Fannie Mae and Circuit City for has been emulated by thousands of companies around the globe. The problem: well, if you’ve had a pulse and watched the news for more than 10 minutes in the past year you’ll know that both of those companies aren’t in the best shape any more.
In response, Jim Collins has written a follow-up book called “How the Mighty Fall“. Fortunately for you, you can skip buying it at the book store and, instead, read this summary to capture what he’s trying to get across. Unfortunately, the book reminded me a lot of the scene a couple of years ago where Mark McGwire (one of my favorite baseball players of all time) sat in front of Congress and kept repeating over and over again, “I don’t want to talk about the past”. If you missed it, I found the video on YouTube.
The book was hastily put together, is a shorter read than Parade Magazine on Sunday (it’s only 123 pages), and feels more like Jim trying to save his reputation than actually get any point across.
That being said, here are the TWO nuggets that I was able to capture (and hopefully they’ll save you the pain of reading his short story):
PEOPLE NEED RESPONSIBILITIES (Page 57) “One notable distinction between wrong people and right people (in key seats) is that the former see themselves as having ‘jobs,’ while the latter see themselves as having ‘responsibilities.”
Verne Harnish suggests, “Every person in a key seat should be able to respond to the question “What do you do?” not with a job title, but with a statement of personal responsibility. “I’m the one person ultimately responsible for x and y.” Think columns two and three on our Accountability Worksheet. In fact, Collins, when he’s hosting executive teams at his research lab often challenges executives to introduce themselves not with titles, but by articulating their responsibilities.”
MANAGE WITH DISCIPLINE (Page 119) ”If you’ve fallen into decline, get back to solid management disciplines — now!” ”In fact, our research shows that if you’ve been practicing the principles of greatness all the way along, you should get down on your knees and pray for severe turbulence, for that’s when you can pull even further ahead of those who lack your relentless intensity.”
Tags: A-Players, built to last, circuit city, congress, fannie mae, flywheel, good to great, hedgehog, hire better, how the mighty fall, jim collins, management discipline, mark mcgwire, testimony, verne harnish