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Top 10 business insights from a master of focus and discipline

Highlights from Jim Collins LIVE

 
Jim Collins lives by the principles he teaches, and his own mantra: greatness is a matter of focus and discipline.

The most successful author of his generation with book translations in 32 languages, Collins spends five to nine years researching and writing each best-selling book.

A legacy of 25 years of business research and unwavering focus and passion, Collins’ books are a must-read for all business leaders. From Good to Great, Built to Last, How the Mighty Fall and Great by Choice (among others), each has inspired and equipped myself and many leaders.

When I met Collins in person, I saw how he applies the lessons he teaches. Written on a whiteboard in his office are the creative hours spent each month (you can see in the picture on this blog), The past three to six months are also counted out on the board. They are Collins’ critical numbers. It’s an important element of his effective business tool: the 20 mile march. It helps him and his team stay focused on key objectives. For Collins, that’s writing and research.

It’s been an incredible privilege to work with Collins and his team in the past ten months, leading up to Growth Summit ’15. His evidence-based approach to business strategy cuts through the complexity that exists in businesses today to provide company leaders with lessons they can easily apply.

Drawing from the expertise in his top-selling books, Jim’s Twelve Questions toolkit was taught by Collins himself to more than 3000 business leaders in Sydney and Melbourne.

A Q&A session also stimulated great conversation. As Collins promises, when people work through the lessons involved in the 12 questions, it will keep them busy well into the next decade.

Here are 10 of my favourite Jim Collins insights:


Do what you are best at
Lasting success will be driven by the fact that you and your company are doing what you are best at. That can be the best service or product for a niche or local community or the best on a global scale, says Collins.

To be great it must matter that you are here
Whatever you do, it must matter to the world around you that you exist to provide the service or product that people need.

Consistent growth is better than faster growth
We all aspire to grow fast, but endurance through consistent growth has proven to be a more reliable indicator of lasting success in the companies researched by Collins.

No great company exists just to make money
Money is like blood, food, oxygen and water: without it, you can’t accomplish much in life. But it is a means to an end.

To be a leader, be yourself
Inspired by a question about gender in leadership, Collins says regardless of gender, be yourself. Tapping into your personal strengths will develop your leadership style and make you a great leader.

Your business can only be great when it does not need you
It is a faulty strategy if a business relies on one person to exist in order to succeed. It’s a matter of fac: we all will die. You don’t want your business to die with you.

Have a healthy dose of productive paranoia – it makes you grateful and fearful
Great leaders have what Collins calls a “functional form of neurosis”. They effectively play Jedi mindgames on themselves. It makes them grateful for their successes and motivates their productivity to avoid failure.

Making fantastic people decisions is a life skill, not only a leadership skil
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Getting the right people on the bus is one of Collins’ most important lessons. It’s about making fantastic people decisions. How you get your business to its destination will depend on who is on the bus with you. As in life, the best experiences involve spending time with people you love. This matters in business as well.

Culture isn’t in support of strategy. It is strategy
It comes back to making the right people choices and shaping your business around critical business decisions that involve humility and the will to succeed; creating a great place to work and getting the wrong people off the bus; getting the facts and believing you can overcome them; making big bets and having a healthy dose of productive paranoia.

Create a ‘stop doing’ list
This is one ‘to-do’ that most of us don’t put on our list. But for every action Collins advises that there should be something we need to stop doing. Think in terms of a balance sheet.

Jim’s Twelve Questions can be downloaded directly from Collins’ website. If you missed this year’s Growth Summit, or you want to relive the experience, watch the video.

It was a fantastic Growth Summit ’15. To all involved, from those behind the scenes, the speakers and the people who registered – thank you!
 
Top 10 business insights - Jim Collins infographic - blog
Jim’s office whiteboard showing his 20 mile march.

 

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