Choosing Greatness

Are you a fan of Jim Collins?  Good to Great and Built to Last created a cult like following of Collins research.  The latest tome is Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck–Why Some Thrive Despite Them All.

Whether you run an organization or are simply CEO of your own life you probably experience unpredictable, tumultuous and continuous change.
There was a chapter toward the end of Great by Choice called Return on Luck. There were a lot of different variables studied by Collins and his team as they investigated the phenomenon of luck.  They concluded that luck does not account for success.
Both successful and less than successful organizations have similar amounts of luck.  The research showed that it is how you take advantage of good luck and are prepared for bad luck that accounts for great success.  Other lessons from Great by Choice include:

  • Experiment to Innovate –  Fire Bullets, Then Cannonballs.  Rather than invest everything in a great new idea (the cannonball) you fire a bullet to calibrate and see whether you hit your target.  By constantly experimenting and exploiting the actions that result in success, you are innovating based on the combination of creativity, discipline and data.
  • SMaC stands for Specific, Methodological, and Consistent.  Once you get clear on your  target, create a SMaC recipe. This is a set of durable operating principles and practices that create a replicable and consistent success formula.  As uncertainty increases SMaC is more important.
  •  The 20 Mile March is about sticking to the plan and staying disciplined with consistent habits.  The idea is to manage for the long term rather than chasing short-term results or immediate gratification.  Create upper and lower boundaries that guide your progress forward and you will become great by choice.

You can thrive despite uncertainty, chaos, and luck if you apply the Great by Choice principles to the leadership of your life and of your organization.

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