In the article I read opposing Collin’s book Good to Great the author states that Collins’ team did not properly conduct their research, that the research fit inside the “Corporate Barnum Effect”, and that the entire book can be summed up by making good business decisions. He states that the error in research existed because Collins used the “good to great” concepts to analyze the comparison companies. He argues that they were not judged by none-bias standards and the research did not reflect the possibility that companies could have exemplified the “good to great” concepts but still did not become great. The Barnum effect is such that a concept is so generic that we all can apply them from our own viewpoint to make them true. Lastly, he claims that all concepts in Collins’ book can be summarized by “making good business decisions”.
A few companies cited in the book are still great today. Companies like Hewlett-Packard and Wal-Mart are still one of the most powerful leaders in their industry. These companies are still great. Collins even suggests that these companies were built to last for their inception. Their sustainability was a result of a different group of concepts, which he discusses in his previous book, Built to Last.
I enjoyed this book and believe strongly in the concepts contained therein. However, I do not believe that cumulative stock returns should be the only measure used to define greatness. This would automatically prevent non-profit organizations from participating in the conversation. I believe that Collins and his research team used these returns as a basis for studying their success. The very nature of the concepts contained in the book leads me to believe that he too believes that stock returns are only a part of what made those companies great. The stock returns were a result of their greatness and not a requirement for it.
Prior to reading Collins’ book Good to Great I had not really thought extensively about comparing good companies to great companies. On the other hand, I have always believed that the right people working in the right company model would produces monetary results. I think that great companies are those that care more about people than profits. I do believe that the “Good to Great” concepts can apply to education. Weather an educational institution in nonprofit or the new for-profit, it is a company that offers goods and services to clients. The concepts in this book can help the institution raise the quality of the services offered and therefore establish themselves as a great educational institution. If you are in the non-profit sector then I recommend the book Forces for Good. It presents very similar advice using similar rigorous research methodology as Good to Great.
Collins, J. C., & Porras, J. I. (2003). Built to last, successful habits of visionary companies. Harper Paperbacks.
Collins, J. (2001). Good to great: Why some companies make the leap…and others don’t. New York, NY: Collins Business.
May, R. (2006). Why “Good to Great” Isn’t Very Good. Business Pundit. Retrieved from: http://www.businesspundit.com/why-good-to-great-isnt-very-good/