Book Review: Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck—Why Some Thrive Despite Them All

Udupa, Shrihari. (2013). Book Review: Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck—Why Some Thrive Despite Them All. Global Business Review June 2013 vol. 14 no. 2 364-371.

Book Review by Shrihari Udupa: Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen, Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck—Why Some Thrive Despite Them All. London, UK: Random House Business Books, 2011, 320 pp. ₹ 799 [Hardback] (ISBN: 978 1 847 94088 9)

Excerpt: How do some companies thrive in uncertainty and even chaos and others do not? This is the key question addressed in this book. The companies classified as great, were not only included based on performance, but on the extremity of the environment, the companies that endured it. How the truly great differed from merely good in environments that exposed and amplified those differences.

Industries face tumultuous events like deregulation, radical technology shifts, price wars, fuel shocks, consolidation and recession. These are different from crises which the individual organizations might meet. The events referred by the authors are generic, experienced by industry and are not firm specific. Basis of greatness therefore become independent yardsticks, which makes the study very reliable.

The companies classified as great, with the moniker ‘10X’ were those that out-performed the industry by at least 10 times on stock returns over 15 year periods. In order to understand what these companies did differently, the authors picked comparison companies against each 10Xer, from the same industry, which was similar in size and age. The authors shortlisted a group of seven companies which met the criteria of 10 Xer and an equal number of comparison companies. The criteria and approach undertaken to identify the 10 Xers and the comparative companies were well suited for the study.

The details provided in the Research Foundations are very useful for the students, academicians and practitioners. It helps understand the process in depth and also the approach to analysis of complex dimensions impacting the performance of organizations...

...basic findings were that (a) the successful leaders are not necessarily bold, risk-seeking visionaries, but they were more disciplined, more empirical and more paranoid; (b) it is not the more innovative but less innovative, more important was the ability to scale innovation to blend creativity with discipline; (c) they were not necessary always fast, demonstrating fast decisions, and fast actions, but ‘going fast when you must, going slow when you can’; (d) radical change outside does not necessarily need radical change inside; (e) all companies had their luck, good and bad in comparable amounts. The critical question was what they did with the luck. Return on luck is what the 10Xers decided...

...This paranoia, highlights the need to be sensitive with higher the level of consciousness, and be aware of the macro picture. The bigger the horizon one can see, the better the ability to foresee the changes. This provides greater preparation time to respond to the change. There is a dimension of humility here, the need for each leader and organization to accept that they are vulnerable and hence the need to collectively work- together and take care of the mutual interest...

Read the article.

(Something interesting I found)Posted:Jun 01 2013, 12:00 AM by brendah
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