Good to Great


Jim Collins’ thesis is that most great companies just are great companies and most good companies are content to stay good. In fact, he argues that good is the enemy of great. Good to Great represents Collins’ research to discover what made a select set of organizations go from good to great. In the book, Collins reveals six concepts that propelled this smaller set of good companies to become great companies. Good to Great is a great business read but the principles are timeless and easily apply to any organization or system including self-development and church culture development.

Key Topics or Truths

Business development
Leadership development
Excelling at work

This Book is Good For...

This book is good for anyone who wants to be a great leader, help an organization become great, or who wants to improve their leadership abilities. This book is great for small business owners.
However, it is a must-read for anyone who would guide the vision of a church.

How I Use this Book to make disciples

We use Good to Great in three very specific ways: to champion great leadership; to develop visionary thinking; and, to spur disciples to dream of a great church. Good to Great is a business book but the principles port very easily to church culture and personal leadership development. We use this book in Discipleship 3 almost exclusively. It complements the Discipleship Pathway steps 10-12 very well.

Jim Collins outlines six concepts that take good organizations from good to great. We guide disciples to inspect their organization, business, or departments against these characteristics. Our goals are to champion workers, leaders, and influencers to think with a “great” mindset. More importantly, we ask disciples to compare Collins’ ten characteristics to Biblical truth and determine if the principles are Biblical or, merely, human. My approach to reading is two or three chapters a week allowing disciples the time to check the principles against the Bible and then discuss their findings in the weekly meeting. I push the idea that even successful, secular innovators and researchers are still inspecting and learning about the world that God created. Many contemporary “discoveries” are actually anchored in God’s design and desire for human living. For example, here are a few of the connections I have ready in the event that the disciples could make no connections:

  1. Level 5 Leadership
    A combination of personal humility and professional will. 
    Micah 6:8, 1 Timothy 3, 1 Peter 5
  2. First Who… Then What
    Get the right people on the bus (and the wrong ones off) before you determine where to go.
    Jesus’ approach to ministry again and again. But remember, God hired almost exclusively from the pool of unqualified.

    • People should be recruited primarily for their character and work ethic rather than for education, skills, or knowledge that can be acquired on the job. 1 Timothy 3
    • When in doubt, don’t hire and keep looking. Romans 14:23
    • When you know that you need to make a change, act.
    • Put your best people on your biggest opportunities, not your biggest problems. Saul and David, David and Mighty Men 
  3. Confront the Brutal Facts
    Companies cannot make great decisions without first confronting reality.

    • Lead with questions, not answers. James 1
    • Engage in dialogue and debate, not coercion. 2 Timothy 3:6
    • When mistakes happen, conduct autopsies without blame. Jesus and the disciples when they did not know to pray and fast. 
  4. Hedgehog Principle
    Find your greatest passion, product/service, and economic driver.

    • Lead with your passion. Colossians 3:23-24
    • Do what you can be great at. Ephesians 4:11-18 A bunch of great coming together to make a great church. Romans 12:6-8
    • Focus on the single thing that drives the greatest result. Philippains 3:13-14, Luke 10:41-42, Psalm 27:4 
  5. Culture of Discipline
    Disciplined people, disciplined thought, and disciplined action play critical roles in allowing an organization to thrive with minimal bureaucracy.

    • identify self-disciplined people that are willing and able to go to extreme lengths to fulfill their responsibilities. 2 Samuel 23:14-16, Luke 16:10, 1 Thessalonians 4:11
    • having a fanatical adherence to the Hedgehog Concept and the willingness to shun opportunities that don’t fit. See verses and notes for “single thing” above.
    • a culture of discipline is not just about taking action but ensuring those actions contribute to a larger whole. 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, Ephesians 4 
  6. Technology Accelerators
    The thoughtless pursuit of technology is a liability, not an asset. Innovation alone cannot turn a good enterprise into a great one. 
    Any instance of the people longing to see the miracles of Jesus instead of focusing on the core message.

Interestingly, Collins divides these six concepts into three phases of growth from Good to Great.

  • Disciplined People
  • Disciplined Thought
  • Disciplined Actions

Again, these three phases give an opportunity to expand the “Be Comes Before Do” concept of spiritual growth and the idea that healthy people do healthy things. These three phases of growth from good to great are a great recipe for being a great church!

I love this book because it ties so well to clear, Biblical truths about business and trade. I love it even more because the concepts are helpful in guiding a church from good to great. I have seen this book transform people’s business lives into great, holy work efforts.

Real Life Story

Thomas struggled to get his small office off the ground. He made just enough to keep things going. He hated the administration of the business but he loved serving his customers. Thomas struggled for years but this book, along with a few others, helped him reimagine and reframe his business. His passion was serving his clients. He was good at that one thing. He looked at the brutal facts, developed a consistent discipline approach to finding new clients, and stopped avoiding technology and new ideas. Instead, he began leveraging everything to allow him to do more of the one thing that he was passionate about. As Thomas connected these “business” concepts to the Bible, God reframed him into an incredible leader of his church community. He plays a critical role in keeping his great church great.

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Jim Collins
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Reading Time
Two to Three Weeks
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