Category: Good To Great

“Most corporate mission statements are terrible.” – Jim Collins

I’ve been in corporate “brainstorming” sessions organized for the goal of developing a mission statement.  All too often, these exercises are about developing a marketing position or a tag line for an annual report to shareholders.  The statement usually becomes so generalized as to not tip off competitors and obscure enough as to avoid criticism.  The result is nobody knows what you do or why.

As soon as you hire your first employee, it is very important for you to communicate the purpose for your company to exist on the planet.  This purpose must be concise and memorable but it must encapsulate a vision that inspires and captures the imagination.

Simple and clear!

It’s never too early to develop your core ideology.   Your company culture starts with you. For a start, read or re-read “Good To Great.”

Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson


“When you have disciplined action, you don’t need excessive controls.” – Jim Collins

Jim Collins on Discipline – part 3 of 3

Everything a startup does should be pointed at getting the product in the customer’s hands and then getting the next customer.

There will be a time for processes and middle management… perhaps.

Perhaps you will be acquired by then and not have to worry about it.

Your objective is not to win the next grant or to have a detailed research and development plan.  In fact, your financials will be totally unpredictable so don;t spend hours tweaking the spreadsheet.

Spend the hours getting the product ready to ship.

“When you have disciplined thought, you don’t need bureaucracy.” – Jim Collins

Jim Collins on Discipline – part 2 of 3

Rules generally mean one thing: people can’t be trusted to do the right thing.  Their presence also indicates ineffective leadership.  It’s easier to make rules for everyone than it is to deal with to root cause of a problem.

When you have rules, you have to enforce them and keep track of them and update them.  Before long, you have people whose job it is to enforce, keep track and update the rules.

Then it’s the rules that become the main thing.  Then we have the Federal Government.

Hire the right people.  Make sure they know the mission and their contribution.  Fire the wrong people quickly.



“When you have disciplined people, you don’t need hierarchy.” – Jim Collins

This is “Collins on Discipline, part 1 of 3”

I’ve been in middle management and I found that I spent most of my time explaining to the troops what upper management was doing and why. On the other hand, I tried to spend time letting upper management know what the troops thought. That never went very far.  Somehow, I came to believe this was deliberate.

If the mission is simple and clear, if there is an open line for brutal honesty and creative debate, and if the right people are in the bus, then there should be no need for a complex org chart.

“Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of choice.” – Jim Collins

Jim Collins claims it takes no more time or effort to create a great company than it does a mediocre one.  It’s all a matter of making the right choices early on.  The blue print is in “Good To Great” and it involves simplicity, maniacal focus and discipline, the right people and leadership at the 5th level.

Remember, “good is the enemy of great”.

“Jim Burke, CEO of Johnson & Johnson, estimated that he spent 40% of his time communicating the J&J Credo” – Jim Collins from Beyond Entrepreneurship

At some point you are going to have to hire someone, or even better, sell something.  Things change when that happens.  Up to that point, your dream, strategy, and purpose are safe inside your head and everyone there understands and embraces it.  What’s more, no one challenges it and it all makes sense.  As a Boy Scout, we opened every meeting by reciting the Scout Oath and the Scout Law.  It is to remind us of the values, ideals and the purpose of being a Boy Scout.  After a few decades, I still remember them clearly.

You can’t just write down your mission statement and be done with it.  The leader of the organization must constantly find ways of reinforcing the message with employees, customers, stakeholders and the general public.  It’s like the downbeat of the bass drum in dance music.  It’s the center; the reference point and it is constant.

J&J is a very successful company.  You should check out their credo:

40% of the CEO’s time…. must be important

“Start a ‘Stop Doing’ list” – Jim Collins from Good To Great

We often use “To Do” lists to keep up with all the stuff we have to get done.  It’s never ending.  To make it worse, entrepreneurs are typically wired to get things done.

Jim Collins suggests that having a “stop doing” list is perhaps more important than than our “to do” list.  Learning to say “no” is vital for making time to get the important things done.

Sometimes this happens automatically because we tend to gravitate toward the things in our minds that are the most important.  But this can based on emotional responses.  Even worse, we let the agenda of others manage our activities.

A deliberate process of identifying the things that are strategically important and the things that are not can go a long way to helping you get things done.

“Hedgehogs…understand that the essence of profound insight is simplicity.” – Jim Collins

The Hedgehog Concept described in Jim Collins’ “Good To Great”  is a great tool for developing a strategic vision for your startup company.  It is the intersection between what drives your passion, what you can be really good at, and what can make you money.  These are the essence of a good startup.

Read “Good To Great” by Jim Collins