Good to Great

By Jim Collins | Reviewed by John Lowe, PT

What distinguishes an enormously successful company from the rest? Is it the result of having driven, larger-than-life leadership? Or is it just a matter of being in the right place at the right time?

Jim Collins and his group researched a number of business organizations in an attempt to identify common elements in businesses that have outperformed their peers. Many of the companies researched went from doing fairly well to the next level. Others were underperforming and turned the corner to producing outstanding results.

Collins and his group identified the following features found in the business organizations they researched:

  1. Realizing that being good can be a barrier to becoming great.
  2. Traits of leaders who have built great organizations.
  3. First who then what: Getting the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off).
  4. Confronting the brutal facts of their current reality.
  5. The Hedgehog Concept: understanding what their organization can excel at and what it cannot excel at.
  6. Creating a culture of discipline.
  7. Applying technology in a carefully selected manner.

This book was published in 2001, and it is interesting to look at the current state of some companies surveyed. Circuit City, for example, turned the corner in the early 1980s and over the next 15 years outperformed the general stock market more than 18 times. They pioneered the consumer electronics superstore; however, the company no longer exists as an independent entity. Wells Fargo, on the other hand, is still alive and thriving. Did Circuit City somehow lose direction, abandon its core principles, and fail to adapt to changes in the appliance and electronics retail industry?

The features that were found in successful organizations are easily understood and may be applied to any type of business. Good to Great is written for business people and therefore may be an excellent resource for physical therapists who own and manage businesses and are looking for ways to stand out from their competition and otherwise take their practice to the next level.

*This book was last reviewed for Impact in 2009. Lowe,-John

John Lowe, PT, MPT, is currently employed by WorkWell Prevention and Care and has been a member of the American Physical Therapy Association’s Occupational Health Special Interest Group board for 6 years. He can be reached at

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