Good to great

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It’s been a year that can be described as the worst of times for some trucking companies and the best of times for some left standing. The question for the latter is, are you satisfied with being a good trucking company that survived or are you ready to take it to the next level and become a great company? Author Jim Collins in his best-selling book Good to Great researched companies that went from good to great even during economic downturns and found common denominators among the leaders who guided them to success.

The Hedgehog principal
Collins recalls an ancient Greek parable about the difference between a fox, which knows many small things, and a hedgehog, which knows one big thing. All good-to-great leaders know how to leverage one simple idea into a big success.

How do you apply this to your company? In the book, Collins argues that you can settle on your Hedgehog concept when you can answer three fundamental questions:

  • What can we be the best in the world at and what can’t we be best at?
  • What is the economic denominator that best drives our economic engine?
  • What are our core people deeply passionate about?

If you answer those questions honestly, Collins claims that your path to greatness will emerge.

The Flywheel concept
Collins also describes a metaphor for change, the flywheel – a massive disk mounted horizontally on an axle. It weighs about 25 tons, and your job is to get it moving as fast as you can. Momentum – mass times velocity – is what will get you the best economic results. How do you get it going from a standstill?

Getting the flywheel to budge takes tremendous effort, Collins notes. With Herculean effort, you will finally get the flywheel to move an inch or so. A little more effort will get you a revolution. Then, with each revolution, the flywheel moves faster. There comes a point – and it’s impossible to know when – where momentum takes over, Collins says. The flywheel’s spinning actually accelerates due to its own weight. Incredibly, your own effort now becomes almost irrelevant.

Asked by Fast Company magazine how he would respond to the current economic slowdown, Collins had some encouraging advice. “If I were running a company today, I would have one priority above all others: to acquire as many of the best people as I could. Because things are going to come back. My flywheel is going to start to turn. And the single biggest constraint on the success of my organization is the ability to get and to hang on to enough of the right people.”

Start your flywheel moving by figuring out what you are good at and how to get great people to start pushing it with you.