Patton's Picks from the PMA Library: Good to Great

June 2020

"Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap.. and Others Don't" by Jim Collins


If you're looking for book recommendations in the productivity and professional development genre, Patton offers a weekly summary of some of the essential and emerging titles from the PMA Library. 
This title is a personal recommendation, but also a favorite of Podcast Guests Carrie Bhada (#33)  and Brian Maness (#37). 

Jim Collins' Good to Great is the result of a research project focused on what distinguishes companies that make the leap to greatness, while others aren't able to move beyond "good." These great companies out-performed their industries as well as the market at large, and saw sustained and measurable successes which catapulted them far above the ranks of their competitors. Collins and his team studied not only what all of these organizations had in common, but what their market competitors distinctly lacked. This leads to invaluable advice on leadership, how you can best identify your nonprofit's focus, and how to best face the realities of your sector.

"[Great Leaders] all maintained unwavering faith that they would not just survive, but prevail as a great company. And yet, at the same time, they became relentlessly disciplined at confronting the most brutal facts of their current reality."


  1. Great companies have great leaders. All of the companies Collins' team examined had what they coined "Level Five Leaders." These individuals were characterized by their humility, perseverance, and an attitude of quiet confidence and success. Great leaders blamed themselves for failures, and attributed their successes to those around them. To be an ego-driven leader means that your successes outweigh those of the company, and that you don't care about the company's success once you've departed. Great leaders recognize the "Stockdale Paradox," which is the notion that they must confront the realities of their situations and work from there.
  2. Great companies utilize the "Hedgehog Concept," meaning the mastery of the one thing led to their successes. Great organizations realize that in order to get their priorities straight, it is vital to determine what their ONE strength is, and figure out how they can be the best at it. In determining one's niche, one's reliable "hedgehog" strength, they can become great. 
  3. The "Flywheel Effect" is how great companies let positive change affect their whole business without baseless motivation. The flywheel effect is the step by step demonstration of your small successes, which eventually gains momentum and mobilizes real, effective change across the entire organization.  Once these organizations gained momentum, rapid growth followed and their success and spoke for itself.

James C. "Jim" Collins is an American researcher, author, speaker and consultant focused on the subject of business management and company sustainability and growth.