2012 Global Leadership Summit Session 2b: Jim Collins

jim collins - 2012Session 2 – Great By Choice
Jim Collins

Nationally Acclaimed Business Thinker and Author

  • Relentlessly curious student of enduring great companies, he is the author of the leadership classics Built to Last and Good to Great
  • Groundbreaking researcher and founder of his own management research lab in Boulder, Colorado
  • Former faculty at the Stanford Graduate School of Business
  • His newest release, Great by Choice, answers the penetrating question, Why do some companies thrive in uncertainty, even chaos, and others do not?

Session Notes

  • Level 5 leader – x factor of a great leader is humility combined with will
  • fantastic discipline
    • 2 approaches, 1) we’ll march when conditions are good, 2) we’ll march no matter what
    • Fantastic discipline also includes not overdoing it. Have capacity to face the unexpected.
    • Southwest airlines stock has produced the best return from 1972-2012. In 1996, when 100 cities wanted Southwest, they came into 4 so they wouldn’t’ be over-stretched.
    • Every church and business should have a “20 mile march.”
    • What is our “20 mile march?”
    • “20 mile march” idea is all about consistent, consecutive performance.
    • What do we need to do today so we can hit our “20 mile march” consistently?
    • The signature of mediocrity is inconsistency.
  • imperical creativity
    • Scott bet his expedition on motor carriages which were untested & cracked.
    • Amundsen lived with Eskimos & learned dogs would be better than horses for South Pole expedition
    • “Fire bullets then cannons” – Launch small creative ideas, when one hits then invest more resources.
    • The marriage of creativity and discipline. Discipline should amplify creativity rather than stifle it.  
  • productive paranoia
    • The only mistakes you can learn from are the ones you survive.
    • Successful companies have a high cash to assets ratio.
    • Take paranoia and translate it into preparation and buffers.
    • If you’re only strong when conditions are good that’s malpractice.
  • SMaC – Specific, Methodical and Consistent
  • The greatest danger is not failure but to be successful and not know why.
  • Change your SMaC only based on empirical data.
  • Preserve the core but stimulate progress. Separate values from practices.
  • Think of an event that a) you didn’t cause it, b) potentially significant consequence, c) surprising result. How did you as a leader perform in those circumstances?
  • What is the role of luck in success?  He decided to define and study luck.
  • The key is to see luck as an event that a) you didn’t cause it, b) potentially significant consequence, c) surprising result.
  • 1) Are these 10x winners luckier? No.
  • 2) What did they do in response?
  • It’s not a matter of whether you will face those events but what you do with them.
  • Thousands of people could have created Basic for the first PC. Bill Gates did it.
  • Life is people and time with the people you love.
  • What is your “return on luck?”
  • Great leaders take advantage of the big, unexpected events both good and bad.
  • Greatness is not primarily a function of circumstance but rather discipline and conscious choice.
  • 3 qualities of a great organization
    • superior performance relative to your mission
    • makes a distinctive impact
    • achieves lasting endurance beyond any one leader
  • An organization is not truly great if it cannot be great without you. 
  • Thanked Bill Hybels
  • I hope you will all commit to being a part of something great and enduring.
  • It is impossible to have a great life without having a meaningful life.
What impacted you from this session?  What action will you take as a result?



  1. 30 Memorable Quotes from the 2012 Global Leadership Summit - August 3, 2013

    […] The x factor of a great leader is humility combined with will. -Jim Collins […]

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