Part One: Introduction
Your eye care practice is a business, but your busy schedule limits the time you can spend learning about the principles other small business owners use to get ahead.
Over the course of a few short articles, this series will offer all the most important lessons from a classic work on management, as well as specific, targeted advice for how to apply those lessons to the daily work you do at your eye care practice.
What is Good to Great, and How Can It Help Your Practice?
Jim Collins’ book Good to Great came out in 2001, and it has gone on to revolutionize how businesses make their most important decisions. It’s a mainstay in MBA programs and book clubs alike.
What sets Good to Great apart from the hundreds of books like it? Collins’ work is the product of five years of detailed scientific research.
Collins and his team started with a simple question: How does a good company become great? To answer that question, they first had to identify great companies to study. They set a high bar; only companies that out-performed their peers by at least triple over a sustained period of fifteen years made the cut. Amazingly, after combing through thousands of companies, they were left with only eleven they could call great. Several of these great companies are now household names, including Kroger, Walgreens and Wells Fargo. Having nailed down their list, they read everything they could about these companies, and interviewed as many eyewitnesses to the process as possible. They wanted to know what separated the good-to-greats from their peer companies in the same industries – why one company skyrocketed while the others plateaued or sank.
After five years of data collection and debate, Collins synthesized their surprising findings into book form. In Good to Great, he lays out the principles he saw at work in these eleven business dynamos:
Level 5 Leadership: Be a leader that blends personal humility and professional will, not a micromanaging tyrant.
First Who … Then What: Get the right people on your bus and the wrong people off it, make sure that everybody is in the right seats, and only then figure out where to drive it together. People first, then strategy.
Confront the Brutal Facts (Yet Never Lose Faith): You must both maintain a steadfast belief that you will prevail, and simultaneously face the unvarnished facts about your current reality.
The Hedgehog Concept (Simplicity within the Three Circles): Have a deep understanding of the core concept of your business. That concept should come from what you are passionate about, what you can be the best at, and what drives your economic engine.
A Culture of Discipline: When everyone in a company is personally disciplined, you don’t need over-management or excessive bureaucracy. Instead, everyone manages themselves.
Technology Accelerators: Technology is never the cause of greatness, but great companies use carefully selected technologies as one of the tools to ignite their greatness.
Above all, Collins found that greatness never arises from one big action. Rather, it’s the result of slow, stepwise actions that add up to sustained momentum, like pushing an enormous flywheel until it gradually picks up speed. What might seem like a sudden breakthrough is actually the result of years of methodical work and discipline. By contrast, mediocrity and outright failure often come from splashy moves that disrupt momentum, causing the business to devolve into what he calls a doom loop.
The next three sections will examine each of the above principles from Good to Great in detail, and use them to help you develop a path to take your eye care practice from a good one to a great one!