Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck--Why Some Thrive Despite Them All

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Harper Collins, Oct 11, 2011 - Business & Economics - 320 pages
32 Reviews

The new question
Ten years after the worldwide bestseller Good to Great, Jim Collins returns with another groundbreaking work, this time to ask: Why do some companies thrive in uncertainty, even chaos, and others do not? Based on nine years of research, buttressed by rigorous analysis and infused with engaging stories, Collins and his colleague, Morten Hansen, enumerate the principles for building a truly great enterprise in unpredictable, tumultuous, and fast-moving times.

The new study
Great by Choice distinguishes itself from Collins’s prior work by its focus not just on performance, but also on the type of unstable environments faced by leaders today.

With a team of more than twenty researchers, Collins and Hansen studied companies that rose to greatness—beating their industry indexes by a minimum of ten times over fifteen years—in environments characterized by big forces and rapid shifts that leaders could not predict or control. The research team then contrasted these “10X companies” to a carefully selected set of comparison companies that failed to achieve greatness in similarly extreme environments.

The new findings
The study results were full of provocative surprises. Such as:

  • The best leaders were not more risk taking, more visionary, and more creative than the comparisons; they were more disciplined, more empirical, and more paranoid.
  • Innovation by itself turns out not to be the trump card in a chaotic and uncertain world; more important is the ability to scale innovation, to blend creativity with discipline.
  • Following the belief that leading in a “fast world” always requires “fast decisions” and “fast action” is a good way to get killed.
  • The great companies changed less in reaction to a radically changing world than the comparison companies.

The authors challenge conventional wisdom with thought-provoking, sticky, and supremely practical concepts. They include: 10Xers; the 20 Mile March; Fire Bullets, Then Cannonballs; Leading above the Death Line; Zoom Out, Then Zoom In; and the SMaC Recipe.

Finally, in the last chapter, Collins and Hansen present their most provocative and original analysis: defining, quantifying, and studying the role of luck. The great companies and the leaders who built them were not luckier than the comparisons, but they did get a higher Return on Luck.

This book is classic Collins: contrarian, data-driven, and uplifting. He and Hansen show convincingly that, even in a chaotic and uncertain world, greatness happens by choice, not chance.

  

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Great insight into consistently successful companies. - Goodreads
Good read with tons if research data. - Goodreads
Great illustrations throughout. - Goodreads
Really appreciated for the hard work and research. - Goodreads

Review: Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck--Why Some Thrive Despite Them All

User Review  - AMYunus - Goodreads

Not so innovative book but consistently making readers feel fascinating about the intriguing topic nowadays. Really appreciated for the hard work and research. Be aware that some factors are not considered to make scope as enough as possible. Read full review

Review: Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck--Why Some Thrive Despite Them All

User Review  - Juan Alcala - Goodreads

Good read with tons if research data. Collins has done a wonderful job of wrapping it all up in a package that's easily digestible. Read full review

Contents

10xers 13
39
Fire Bullets then Cannonballs
69
Leading above the Death Line
99
SMaC
125
return on Luck
149
Great by Choice
181
Research Foundations
199
Notes
255
Index
295
Copyright

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About the author (2011)

Jim Collins is author or coauthor of six books that have sold in total more than ten million copies worldwide, including the bestsellers Good to Great, Built to Last, and How the Mighty Fall. Jim began his research and teaching career on the faculty at Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he received the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1992. He now operates a management laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, where he conducts research, teaches, and consults with executives from the corporate and social sectors.

Morten T. Hansen is a management professor at the University of California, Berkeley (School of Information), and at INSEAD. Formerly a professor at Harvard Business School, Morten holds a PhD from Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he was a Fulbright scholar. He is the author of Collaboration and the winner of the Administrative Science Quarterly Award for exceptional contributions to the field of organization studies. Previously a manager with the Boston Consulting Group, Morten consults and gives talks for companies worldwide.

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