Jim Collins immortal business bestseller, “Good to Great,” created a revolution in many businesses and an explosion in book sales. The book was adopted, adapted, taught, and implemented. In many instances, companies did go from good to great – or at least from good to very good.
The key is these companies sought improvement. Self-improvement. Whether it was from within, or from an outside group of impartial experts, the concept was and is to “get better.” Great is an illusive target. Collins knew it.
The concept is not complicated. It revolves around self-assessment, an agreed-upon game plan of action, measurable results, and an overall spirit that includes individual work, teamwork and remarkable leadership. So far it’s simple.
The real issue is, and the thing that has always bothered me about the book, is that the beginning premise assumes you are “good.” Most companies and their people are not. Most businesses are not. And you see them every day, going out of business.
Many companies try to maximize profit by cutting costs, or worse, cutting quality, or way worse, cutting service offerings. Then customers get angry and tell other potential customers through social media, or some form of online reporting like Trip Advisor or Angie’s List. Then reputation is somewhere between questionable and lost. Followed by a downturn in business.
In 1996, I wrote this customer service truth: “It never costs as much to fix the problem as it does to not fix the problem.” Eighteen years later, that statement has never been more true.
“Good to Great” was published in 2001 way before social media dominated the scene. Companies no longer have to self-assess; all they have to do is go to their Facebook page where their customers have already done it. And there’s usually a huge gap between what companies and their leadership think they are, and what their customers say they are. I will always take the latter as the true picture.
So the real challenge is not how you get from good to great. It’s how you get from crappy to good. Things like rundown hotels, lousy food in a restaurant, rude clerk in a retail store, long lines to be served, long waits on hold, not keeping up with technology, and poor management seem to be pervasive in our society.