Thursday, June 9, 2005

Climbing to Greatness with Jim Collins

In this article by Art Kleiner, Jim Collins is being analyzed from Jim Collins' grandfather down to Collins' childhood in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district. Kleiner termed Collins' turn from a mathematical sciences graduate to an MBA student in Stanford as another "epiphany" (Kleiner may have the Christian meaning of this word in his mind). Collins' rock-climbing experience helped him talking off, said Professor Porras whom Collins studied Interpersonal Dynamics course with in Standard Business School.

Art Kleiner is also a business book authors who wrote "Who Really Matters – The Core Group" and "The Age of Heretics". Kleiner quoted Harvard Business School professor Morten Hansen saying that Collins' study aimed at Managers and best methods of academic research was followed. In fact Collins himself said he wasn't aimed at Manager at the beginning. It was the Chimps (Collins' research associates) who championed the inclusion of the Level 5 Leadership concept. Kleiner pointed out in this article that Collins' study led to a series of questions about virtue and when the 11 companies were singled out for in-depth analysis the key factors were found one of them being the Level 5 Leadership. Indeed Collins' methodology was uncommon. He didn't pick companies with continuous growth such as Coca-Cola, GE, Intel or even Microsoft. This possibly has made Collins' book stood out because most management books used stories surrounding glamorous companies like those mentioned above or charismatic leaders working for these companies to attract readers. Collins picked companies that took off suddenly after many years of flatten performance then 15 years of accelerated growth. One can tell the meaning of this from the choice of the verb "catapult" in Collin's 2001 article. In the description by Kleiner on how Collins managed to write his book "Good to Great" you will know Collins was doing what Nick Sagar did on "The Crew". Collins was determined to climb that rock (research and write the book) his way by having no faulty appointment and rejected punditry financing scheme of taking consulting jobs. $750,000 of Collins' own money was spent in the research and writing of his book "Good to Great" and while collaborating with Professor Porras the Collins couple lived in a small Palo Alto cottage on an annual income of $33,000. Kleiner also called Collins a perfectionist. The 7 key factors found by the Chimps were

  1. First Who….Then What

  2. The Stockdale Paradox

  3. A Culture of Discipline

  4. Technology Accelerators

  5. The Flywheel

  6. The Hedgehog Concept

  7. The Level 5 Leaders

Collins refused to get a Ph.D and he made no secret of his contempt for the specialization (he called them, the "churches") of management theory. Ironically the churches like Collins' idea as you can tell from the number of results you may get by putting "fallure + church" as your search texts in a Google search. Few churches and Christianity groups have quoted Collins' climbing experience as metaphor of life in their webpage.A few is listed below:

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