Book: From Good to Great
Author: Jim Collins
Category: Strategy & Management
Rating: 9/10

Concept: The Flywheel

The flywheel illustrates the idea that great companies are different from good companies in the way they operate in a consistent way.

When companies obtain breakthrough results, the outside world might perceive this as a sudden event. Great results however do not depend on one particular genius strategic shift or one brilliant marketing idea. Great companies are disciplined in three ways. First, these companies focus on hiring the right people: start with putting the right people off the bus and the right ones on, then place everyone on the right seat, after this you can define where to go. Second, great companies are disciplined to face the brutal facts. Third, they are disciplined to make use of technology accelerators. Being disciplined on these three topics is what differentiates great companies from good companies. Step by step applying these principles work like launching a flywheel that will start running after intense and disciplined turning.

Books in business comment: a step by step approach

The flywheel is a metaphor illustrating the idea that great results are generated step by step. Like starting up a flywheel, a tremendous amount of effort is needed to get started a new business or project. Once it starts running the additional amount of energy needed becomes marginal comparing to the energy needed in the start-up phase.

During my first start-up years, the amount of failures I made overruled by far the amount of successes to the extent that I started to believe that success was just a matter of luck. Since I didn’t quite consider waiting for luck as an ingenious plan, my more obvious choice was to start from zero and to work hard on all possible levels. All these changes didn’t really seem to create a direct impact. However after a couple of years I experienced a magical moment where suddenly different pieces of the puzzle started to fall together. All these small interventions at different fronts I made over the years seemed to generate an impact, from changing my food habits through ceasing my PhD, over choosing to focus on 3 customer segments, changing apartment etc. A nice parallel can be made with Tony Robbins’ one-millimeter off principle. Small interventions can have a huge impact in the long run.

Jim Collins’ principles reinforced my believs of never giving up, even if results are not quickly showing up. Each time that I have the impression of slowing down, I think of the flywheel that needs time and energy to get started, at a certain moment, the wheel will eventually start turning.

Booksinbusiness take away: great results depend on small and continuous interventions.