Good To Great and how it applies to us

In 2001, Jim Collins and his team wrote a book, entitled “Good to Great.”

They gathered tons of data to determine what made companies truly great, and not just good or mediocre. Scanning through the stock market records, they sought out companies from 1950 to present that had a long period of okay performance, but then had a major increase in profits and stock  value lasting at least 15 years. Of the thousands of stocks, they only found 11 companies that fit their criteria.  Then, they searched those companies (comparing them with each other and contrasting them with others in their business sectors) to find out what made them different.

Over a few posts, I’ll share some of the key concepts, and then discuss them not in a business sense, but in a LDS setting.

1.  The Key Principles are built upon the Flywheel:

Those companies that not only succeeded, but did brilliantly, had these issues all in common.  We’ll be discussing them over the next several weeks.

For this week, I’ll share this concept:  Colllins’ research demonstrates that for a person or company to be successful, she must have the following three criteria:

1. Deeply Passionate about the thing
        If it does not inspire you, then it isn’t something you will want to do in the long term. It has to be something that stirs within you constantly, and that you deeply believe in.
2. Something you can be the Very Best in the World at
        If you are mediocre at something, you will not be able to succeed against those who are truly talented in that same area.
3. It drives your Economic Engine
        If the rewards are not there, then it is not financially (or emotionally, intellectually, etc) worth doing.

hedgehog concept

The key, then, is to find the sweet spot where all three intersect.  Whether it is in business, family, the gospel, service, developing talents, etc., we should focus on those things that we are deeply passionate about, which we are very good at doing, and that reward us.

If I read my scriptures, but I am not passionate about them, then I will not continue studying them for a lifetime.  Or I could be passionate about scripture study, but not very good at it, or I do not receive the spiritual rewards I hear everyone else is getting from reading scriptures.  There are things I can do to solve this issue, as scripture study is very important in our spiritual development.

1. Find a method of study that works best for you. It may include listening to scriptures, taking them in small chunks, studying them by topic rather than straight through, or diagramming them in one sense or another.

2. Find out what in the scriptures makes you feel passionate.  For most people, reading the genealogical lists of King David’s musicians is simply not inspiring. So, find the parts that do interest you.  It may be the war sections, perhaps the poetic prose, or the doctrines themselves.

3. Find out what you are best at, when it comes to the scriptures.  Is it the ability to understand complex concepts?  Perhaps it is the ability to teach and explain things (if so, you can start a blog!).  Find out how it works best for you, or how you are the best at doing something in regards to it.

4. If the Lord rewards you for studying scriptures by sending the Comforter or inspiration to you, then great!  If not, find a reward of your own.  When you complete your studies for the week, reward yourself with your favorites ice cream, candy, time on the beach or another rewarding thing you love.

The same focus will apply to prayer, school work, parenting, etc.  Of course, we need to remember that in the gospel, the Lord sometimes requires somethings from us that we are weak in.  That is okay.  Something “Good to Great” does not consider is the abililty of God to qualify those he calls.  Starting with our greatest strengths, and building on them, is where we should begin in whatever call we receive (Primary teacher, parent, General Authority).   Then, as we are humble, the Lord shall make weak things strong for us, allowing us to have additional strengths we can use to help further the great work of God.

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About rameumptom

Gerald (Rameumptom) Smith is a student of the gospel. Joining the Church of Jesus Christ when he was 16, he served a mission in Santa Cruz Bolivia (1978=1980). He is married to Ramona, has 3 stepchildren and 7 grandchildren. Retired Air Force (Aim High!). He has been on the Internet since 1986 when only colleges and military were online. Gerald has defended the gospel since the 1980s, and was on the first Latter-Day Saint email lists, including the late Bill Hamblin's Morm-Ant. Gerald has worked with FairMormon, More Good Foundation, LDS.Net and other pro-LDS online groups. He has blogged on the scriptures for over a decade at his site: Joel's Monastery ( He has the following degrees: AAS Computer Management, BS Resource Mgmt, MA Teaching/History. Gerald was the leader for the Tuskegee Alabama group, prior to it becoming a branch. He opened the door for missionary work to African Americans in Montgomery Alabama in the 1980s. He's served in two bishoprics, stake clerk, high council, HP group leader and several other callings over the years. While on his mission, he served as a counselor in a branch Relief Society presidency.

7 thoughts on “Good To Great and how it applies to us

  1. Interesting — just 10 minutes ago, I received an invitation from IHS to participate in a “Good to Great” workshop series, and was wondering what it was. I came online to look it up, and decided to check out M* instead. Synchronicity, as Jung would call it.

  2. I was not impressed with GtG. Not so much the advice, but the methodology of selecting the example companies. Reminds me of the “studies” used to prove ESP by having a hundred people to predict coin tosses and declaring clairvoyant the ones who beat the statistical averages. What GtG never addresses, because it never thinks to ask, is what happened to the companies that fit the behavior patterns and still failed? The book starts from the wrong end of things. Actually, you could probably get a pretty interesting blog post comparing that idea to the gospel…

  3. This is fantastic Rame! I think it’s a terrific idea to apply this kind of out-of-the-box methodology to our spiritual lives. Slogging away at the gospel out of a sense of duty will never bring anyone greatness. Your point no. 4 really works! I wasn’t reading my scriptures regularly, so I developed a scheme, whereby I reward myself with a dollar every time I read my scriptures, which goes into a special vanity fund. I haven’t missed a day for months! No. 3 is very important too. Reading the Bible in alternate translations, reading conference talks in lieu of the scriptures, or even watching a spiritual video or some inspiring book from Deseret Book is better than just slogging through out of obedience. The scriptures are there for spiritual food, and if we are not being nourished, we are doing it the wrong way.

  4. Jimyim, I do not expect any book to be perfect. Nor do I expect it to have all that people are looking for. Good to Great is not a perfect book. There is no guarantee that its findings will help someone create a super collossal company that not only endures for centuries, but makes Microsoft and Google look like local dime stores, is just not realistic. It shows key principles that gives a greater chance at success.

    I will discuss those principles here, some of which may be difficult to fit into a gospel context.

    Nate, I agree that we often get lazy. Or our methods are neither efficient nor effective. By discussing some of these concepts, I hope we can try and make our experiences in the church and in our homes great, and not just good.

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