Ged Carroll

Good To Great by Jim Collins

Published: (Updated: ) in business | 商業 | 상업 | ビジネス, ethics | 倫理 | 윤리학, ideas | 想法 | 생각 | 考える, oprah time | 書評 | 서평 : 文芸批評 by .

5 minutes estimated reading time

Jim Collins

Jim Collins, the author of Good To Great has been researching and writing about what makes companies successful since 1988, though there are points made about this and the similarity of the work done by Tom Peters at McKinsey. Peters eventually turned the outputs of that research into the book In Search of Excellence.

From this research Collins has written a series of books:

Good to Great was Collins’ sophomore book published in 2001. I was curious to see how it stands up in the 20 years since publication.

What’s the book like?


Collins has written a surprisingly accessible book that at the same time demonstrates an academic rigour to the underlying research. A good chunk of the book is an epilogue, frequently asked questions and referenceable materials at the back.

Each chapter is comes with a summary page and Collins makes good use of visuals to convey his ideas.


Collins bases Good to Great around seven ideas.

Where Good To Great didn’t age well

The example of Wells Fargo standing out as an exemplar jarred with me. Wells Fargo is cited as a prime example of a great company, but there are examples of a number of cracks in its culture over years

Good to Great limitations

Good to Great focuses on American companies, there doesn’t seem to be a consideration of how national culture may have an impact on the firm. Where does China’s wolf culture or Samsung’s punishing culture fit in the kind of model that Collin’s proposes in his book? I don’t know the answer but its a topic worth exploring in a more global business environment. I think that its particularly interesting because Collins’ work has been widely read by Chinese business people, yet their ‘great companies’ look very different to the corporates that Collins cites as good to great in nature.

In conclusion

Collins has created useful management book for departments as well as large corporates, which explains why it has been published in so many languages including Spanish and Chinese. What is less apparent in Chinese corporate culture is how influential the book has really been.

You can find my updated list of professional reading materials here and further book reviews here. Lastly, more on Good to Great here.