Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Good-to-Great: Good is the Enemy of Great (new)

This is the second post Sky View is featuring on Jim Collins' book, Good to Great. Here, we cover the basic points of the first chapter: “Good is the enemy of Great.” At bottom of the post is a brief commentary on how his insights apply to missions, ministries and apostolates within the Church.

The value of Good to Great principles and its findings can serve a purpose for all Catholics who aspire to lead, not just a small business, but any mission that advances the kingdom of God. No doubt, we can learn from what Jim Collins discovered in his search for good-to-companies.

Chapter 1: Good is the enemy of great

Unconventional Findings:

“Ten of eleven good-to-great CEO’s came from inside the company whereas the comparison companies tried outside CEO’s six times more often.”

“Strategy per se did not separate the good-to-great companies from the comparison companies. Both sets of companies had well-defined strategies…”

“The good-to-great companies did not focus principally on what to do to become great; they focused equally on what not to do and what to stop doing.”

“The good-to-great companies paid scant attention to managing change, motivating people, or creating alignment. Under the right conditions, the problems of commitment, alignment, motivation, and change largely melted away…Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice.”

Level 5 Leadership:

“Compared to high-profile leaders with big personalities who make headlines and become celebrities, the good-to-great leaders seemed to have come from Mars. Self-effacing, quiet, reserved, even shy- these leaders are a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will. They are more like Lincoln and Socrates than Patton and Caesar.”

First Who…Then What: Good-to-great leaders “got the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats- then they figure out where to drive it.”

Stockdale Paradox:” You must maintain unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, AND at the same time have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

A Culture of Discipline: “All companies have a culture, some companies have discipline, but few companies have a culture of discipline. When you have disciplined people, you don’t need a hierarchy. When you have disciplined thought, you don’t need bureaucracy. When you have disciplined action, you don’t need excessive controls. When you combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get the magical alchemy of great performance.”

Technology Accelerators: Good-to-great companies “never use technology as the primary means of igniting a transformation.”

The Fly Wheel and the Doom Loop: “Now matter how dramatic the end result, the good-to-great transformations never happened in one fell swoop.”

Summary: “Yes the world is changing, and will continue to do so. But that does not mean we should stop the search for timeless principles. While the practices of engineering continually evolve and change, the laws of physics remain relatively fixed.”

Sky View comments:

In the early Church, bishops were selected from within the diocese. I understand today that many dioceses draw from within and from without under the leadership of Rome. However, there is great wisdom in drawing men for the episcopate from within the diocese. One plus is that the new leader is familiar with both the people and the circumstances he has to manage. It is also an advantage that the leader has the confidence of the people.

Some of us have yielded to the “grass is greener on the other side of fence” phenomenon. Perhaps, this is why the Lord said that a prophet is not welcomed in his home town. Familiarity tends to breed contempt. But it can do at the expense of overlooking great men and women in their own backyard.

Dioceses now days are encumbered by strategies, meetings, programs envisioning processes and bureaucracy in general. As Collins alluded to, it is not well-defined strategies or technology that can make a company successful. Rather, it is the people…the right people!

This is why the Lateran Council taught the following: “If it should ever be impossible to maintain the present number, it is better to have a few good priests than a multitude of bad ones." With holy bishops and priests, come good missions and therefore good strategies…not the other way around. This is why it is of great importance to not only get the right people on the bus, but to get the wrong people off of the bus!!

In the name of compassion, many of our religious leaders- locally and nationally –struggle with the latter. But, as many of us know, it is better to have a few good workers- who are passionate for the cause -than to have at your side a multitude of bad ones; people who are unwilling to make the necessary sacrifices to achieve the goal.

Compassion must be directed towards persons in their human need. But by allowing unqualified employees to retain their job or position the goals of the mission (or the company) and the common good end up getting undermined.

Collins further adds that good-to-great companies not only focus on what to do but also on what not to do. As this applies to the Church, sin is not a common theme in today’s sermons and teachings within the Church. Catholics, in not addressing sin by name, have inadvertently omitted this principle at hand: focusing on “what not to do.”

The problem is that if we leave sin out of our discussions and public discourse, we are essentially doing away with the need for a Savior. This, in part, explains why Mass and Holy Matrimony (as well as other Sacraments) are commonly seen as “less necessary” as compared to five decades ago. Who needs grace when sin is barely mentioned even by the Church? This is why it is important to focus, not only on the positive, but the negative as well.