Good To Great
Good To Great: Why some companies make the leap … and others don’t.
New York, New York: HarpersCollins Publishers, Inc., 2001. p 1-19.
Good Is the Enemy of Great
That’s what makes death so hard—unsatisfied curiosity.
West with the Night
Good is the enemy of great.
And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great.
We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools.
We don’t have great
government, principally because we have good government.
Few people attain great lives, in large part
because it is just so easy to settle for a good life. The vast majority of companies never become great,
precisely because the vast majority become quite good—and that is their main problem.
This point became piercingly clear to me in 1996, when I was having dinner with a group of
thought leaders gathered for a discussion about organizational performance.
Bill Meehan, the managing
director of the San Francisco office of McKinsey & Company, leaned over and casually confided, “You
know, Jim, we love
Built to Last
You and your coauthor did a very fine job on the research
Unfortunately, it’s useless.”
Curious, I asked him to explain.
“The companies you wrote about were, for the most part, always great,” he said.
had to turn themselves from good companies into great companies.
They had parents like David Packard
and George Merck, who shaped the character of greatness from early on.
But what about the vast
majority of companies that wake up partway through life and realize that they’re good, but not great?”
I now realize that Meehan was exaggerating for effect with his “useless” comment, but his
essential observation was correct—that truly great companies, for the most part, have always been great.