Books and articles that matter
By Dean Andy Boynton
In my role as dean, I often think of Jim Collins’s book Good to Great (HarperBusiness, 2001). Like many of you, I’m trying to build a better institution—the best possible. Collins explores what it takes to turn good organizations into ones that produce excellent, sustained results. While some may argue that Collins’s work is methodologically flawed, he has what I think are important ideas for leaders who are trying to create enduring greatness.
Good to Great offers strategies that lead to excellence as well as tactics that are useful in day-to-day management. The notion of a ”stop doing” list that replaces a “to do” list and helps us focus on the most productive work rather than the work we’ve always done. Or Admiral Stockdale’s confession to the author that the people who didn’t “make it out” were the optimists who refused to “confront the brutal facts of [their] current reality.” Or the idea that if you’re thinking “Isn’t success enough?” you’re probably engaged in the wrong line of work.
Central to Collins’s road map to success is the “Hedgehog Concept,” which guides everything an organization does and answers the following questions: What can you be best in the world at? What drives your economic engine? And, what are you deeply passionate about? For the Carroll School, it’s all about excellent research, great teaching, and a commitment to student formation. Everything we do revolves around these three activities.
At its best, Good to Great is a mirror that corrects our understanding of who we are.