Jim Collins – Good to Great (EDUCAUSE2009)

Opening keynote of Educause2009, & pretty good it was too – essentially ran through his views about how great company’s can fail – the 5 stages of decline. Bullet points in a haphazard manner below. Further info at http://www.jimcollins.com/.

  • Leadership is a common variable in success & failure – what matters is the type of leadership. Successul leaders were socially adept introverts, signature characteristics were humility, ambition for the work, & a stoic will to make good
  • Universities have a distributed power map – if there were 100 power points to allocate ‘faculty have 1000 points of no’. So a successful leader has to create the conditions in which the right things will happen, without having the concentrated power to make it happen.
  • Leadership is not about power – it only exists when people follow when they have the freedom to choose not to
  • Packard’s Law (as articulated by Jim Collins) – don’t decide where to go, then get the people on the bus, then drive the bus – get the right people on the bus first
  • You can’ motivate people – they motivate themselves – but you can demotivate, & one of the best ways to do this is to ignore the truth, to fail to confront what needs confronting
  • In business, money is a means to success & also a definition of success – in the social sector, money is only a means. 
  • The signature of mediocrity is chronic inconsistency – on the other hand: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesman and philosophers and divines” – Ralph Waldo Emerson. So, you pays your money & you takes your choice
  • You don’t need a to do list – you need a stop doing list. Existential dilemma: do you put the need to prepare a stop doing list on your to do list?
  • Finally, list of to do’s (nothing like being inconsistent ;-))
  1. Do diagnostics of the team (free tool on jimcollins.com)
  2. Think about how many key seats there are on the bus, how many have the right people in, how to get to 100%
  3. Think about having a ‘personal board of directors’
  4. Get young people in place/in your face
  5. Turn off electronic gadgets – create white space for thinking
  6. Questions to statements ratio – double it
  7. Start a stop doing list
  8. Suspend titles & have people articulate responsibilities ie I am the one person with responsibility for A, B, C etc
  9. Work out below waterline ie life threatening risks & take them away
  10. Set a BHAG – Big Hairy Audacious Goal (?)

& then ended up with a bit that got dangerously close to being motivational – so I’m with Emerson on this!

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