Great by Choice

  • by Jim Collins, Morten T Hansen
  • Narrated by Jim Collins
  • 8 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The New Question.
Ten years after the worldwide best seller Good to Great, Jim Collins returns with another ground-breaking work, this time to ask: Why do some companies thrive in uncertainty, even chaos, and others do not? Based on nine years of research, buttressed by rigorous analysis and infused with engaging stories, Collins and his colleague, Morten Hansen, enumerate the principles for building a truly great enterprise in unpredictable, tumultuous, and fast-moving times.
The New Study.
Great by Choice distinguishes itself from Collins's prior work by its focus not just on performance, but also on the type of unstable environments faced by leaders today. With a team of more than 20 researchers, Collins and Hansen studied companies that rose to greatness - beating their industry indexes by a minimum of 10 times over 15 years - in environments characterized by big forces and rapid shifts that leaders could not predict or control. The research team then contrasted these "10X companies" to a carefully selected set of comparison companies that failed to achieve greatness in similarly extreme environments.
The New Findings.
The study results were full of provocative surprises. Such as:

The best leaders were not more risk taking, more visionary, and more creative than the comparisons; they were more disciplined, more empirical, and more paranoid.
Innovation by itself turns out not to be the trump card in a chaotic and uncertain world; more important is the ability to scale innovation, to blend creativity with discipline.
Following the belief that leading in a "fast world" always requires "fast decisions" and "fast action" is a good way to get killed.
The great companies changed less in reaction to a radically changing world than the comparison companies.
The authors challenge conventional wisdom with thought-provoking, sticky, and supremely practical concepts. They include 10Xers; the 20 Mile March; Fire Bullets then Cannonballs; Leading above the Death Line; Zoom Out, Then Zoom In; and the SMaC Recipe. Finally, in the last chapter, Collins and Hansen present their most provocative and original analysis: defining, quantifying, and studying the role of luck.
The great companies and the leaders who built them were not luckier than the comparisons, but they did get a higher Return on Luck. This book is classic Collins: contrarian, data driven, and uplifting. He and Hansen show convincingly that, even in a chaotic and uncertain world, greatness happens by choice, not by chance.

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What the Critics Say

"Jim Collins has built a reputation as something of a myth buster... This book is recommended." (Financial World, Dec 2011)
"Luck is not a strategy’ the authors conclude. What determines any organization’s success is how it prepares for both good and bad luck. They call this getting a ‘positive return’ on luck and, if Good to Great’s four million-plus sales are anything to go by, this idea will be embedded in corporate speak before you know it." (Philip Delves Broughton, author of What They Teach you At Harvard Business School in Management Today“If you want to understand what it takes to run a great company in any circumstances and you admire brilliant analysis and a clear, evocative writing style, then Great By Choice is worth five stars out of five.” (James Scouller, People Management)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

It's a presentation rather than a reading

I was so looking forward to listening to this book. I have read a couple of other Jim Collins books and found them really well researched and well argued. He always presents confronting new ideas.

Jim's performance made it really hard for me to listen to. I found his delivery more like a presentation to a large audience in a large auditorium, rather than an intimate reading to one person, me. I tried hard to keep going but in the end couldn't.

I suppose I am going to have to go out and buy a paper book.
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- Joseph Di Stefano "He tries hard"

Good content, horrendous narration

What did you like best about Great by Choice? What did you like least?

Best: The content is sound, and only just carries you through the ridiculously bad narration.

Least: Choppy, stilted and over the top narration. I read the other reviews talking about how bad the narration was, and thought, nah, I've never had a problem with any narration on any other audio book in the past, I'll be right. Big mistake.

Jim may write decent books, but he really needs to stick to what he is good at, and get professional narrators to read them. Here's an example


Would you be willing to try another one of Jim Collins’s performances?

Not in a million lifetimes.


Do you think Great by Choice needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

Yes, read by someone else.


Any additional comments?

I would even suggest a second release of this book, read by somebody else.

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- David "D"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-07-2011
  • Publisher: Random House AudioBooks