Good to Great to Gone

This is a post I started to write, but got bogged down with life, so I am posting this in process…

A few years ago, Jim Collins book Good To Great (subtitle:  Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t) was a bestselling business book filled with many ideas that resonated with those in church leadership.  I loved this book and still think about many of the concepts that are presented therein as they relate to good leadership.  Some of the principles identified as making some companies great even resemble biblical characteristics (e.g. humility at the leadership level).

This book has been back on my mind the past few days with the closing of Circuit City.  Why?  Circuit City was identified in Good to Great as a great company.  But now it is good to great to gone (and for this I am very sad for another large round of people who have lost their jobs).  My point is not to criticize Collins, for indeed Circuit City was at one point a great company (especially by his rubric/litmus test to identify great companies).  We might even look further to see if they departed from the concepts that Collins identifies as indicative of a great company – something I won’t do here.

All of this takes me to  further questions.  What is greatness that lasts?  Can we be great in an enduring way?  And in keeping with content of this post – can our institutions be great?


3 responses to this post.

  1. The title led me to believe this was a post of a personal nature… but you’re still here, and that’s good.


  2. Interesting observation– I had forgotten that Collins identified Circuit City as a “great” company. That certainly suggests something about them. Two thoughts in response:
    While they were portrayed as a Great company, they were not (to my recollection) considered a “built to last” company, as detailed in Collins’ previous book (written with Jerry Porras) by that name. Collins would probably respond simply, “great ≠ built to last”– and he would be right. But wise leaders will give mind to the principles in BOTH books.
    Here’s what really bugs me about the Circuit City bankruptcy: the media is playing it up as a big symptom of the crumbling economy, which of course is scaring everyone even more. But the truth is, Circuit City has been fighting this for over a decade. I remember the struggle beginning when Best Buy came onto the scene in the early/mid-90s, and I’m frankly surprised they lasted this long. They were never able to compete with Best Buy’s model. So that’s one more way the economy is being blown out of proportion. (Look for something on this on my blog soon…)


  3. Still here Ken.

    Ed: thanks for these thoughts – I think the point you make about CC troubles being at least a decade old carries a lot of weight.

    I have Built to Last but have not read it.


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