Sunday, July 1, 2012

Good Is the Enemy of Great

Good is the enemy of great.  And so begins our journey with Jim Collin's inspection of over 1400 companies, discovering a very special 11 that transitioned from good to great organizational performance in his book,  Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... And Others Don't.

How these 11 compared to those who settled for mediocrity may just surprise you  -  and the links to domestic staff environments are inescapable.

Unlike many books about workplace success, Collins did not first begin with a leadership thesis and then search for data to prove it.  Instead, he set tough benchmarks for sustained success and then looked for those groups that created long-term performance success.  His mission was to find their specific attributes and exactly how they took themselves from good-to-great over a respectable period of time.  No overnight flash-in-the-pan success stories were allowed here; Collins was searching for the real deal.  Released after 10 years of research, the book has now sold over two million copies.

Great corporate environments know the crucial importance of having the best, most flexible, and passionate people on board, to succeed during inevitably changing market conditions.  Great domestic staffs work in exactly the same way: a team of members who are self-motivated and will switch gears when the estate's unique market  (the principals' priorities) require them to perform different skills, responsibilities, and the continuity of service during quickly changing conditions.  This spells great teamwork, not simply a gathering of good individuals each running on their own agendas.  Collins explains:

Leaders of companies that go from good to great start not with 'where' but with 'who.' They start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats. And they stick with that discipline—first the people, then the direction—no matter how dire the circumstances....

When it comes to getting started, good-to-great leaders understand three simple truths. First, if you begin with 'who,' you can more easily adapt to a fast-changing world. If people get on your bus because of where they think it’s going, you'll be in trouble when you get 10 miles down the road and discover that you need to change direction because the world [i.e., the estate owners' priority] has changed. But if people board the bus principally because of all the other great people on the bus, you’ll be much faster and smarter in responding to changing conditions. Second, if you have the right people on your bus, you don’t need to worry about motivating them. The right people are self-motivated: Nothing beats being part of a team that is expected to produce great results. And third, if you have the wrong people on the bus, nothing else matters. You may be headed in the right direction, but you still won’t achieve greatness. Great vision with mediocre people still produces mediocre results.

By getting the right people on the bus, first, the vision for what the team is trying to accomplish can then be understood and the mission will be performed successfully.