GOOD TO GREAT AND THE SOCIAL SECTORS 3 a university president, a nonprofit leader, a hospital CEO, or a school superintendent, would you have been. GOOD TO GREAT. AND THE. SOCIAL SECTORS. A Monograph to Accompany. Good to Great. Why Some Companies. Make the Leap and Others Don't. Jim Collins Answers the Social Sector with a Monograph to Accompany Good to Great. % of those who bought Good to Great work in the Social Sector.
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The following are short excerpts from the monograph Good to Great and the Social Sectors: Why Business Thinking Is Not the Answer, published in by Jim. Business principles cannot be applied to social sector without modification. Both share issues about moving from good to great – but the concept of greatness. Building upon the concepts introduced in Good to Great, Jim Collins answers the most commonly asked questions raised by his readers in the social sectors.
During my first year on the Stanford faculty in , I sought out professor John Gardner for guidance on how I might become a better teacher.
Gardner, former Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, founder of Common Cause, and author of the classic text Self-Renewal, stung me with a comment that changed my life. I don't know if this monograph will prove interesting to everyone who reads it, but I do know that it results from my growing interest in the social sectors.
My interest began for two reasons. First is the surprising reach of our work into the social sectors. I'm generally categorized as a business author, yet a third or more of my readers come from non-business.
Second is the sheer joy of learning something new—in this case, about the challenges facing social sector leaders—and puzzling over questions that arise from applying our work to circumstances quite different from business.
I originally intended this text to be a new chapter in future editions of Good to Great. But upon reflection, I concluded that it would be inappropriate to force my readers to download a second copy of the book just to get access to this piece—and so we decided to create this independent monograph.
That said, while this monograph can certainly be read as a stand-alone piece, I've written it to go hand-in-hand with the book, and the greatest value will accrue to those who read the two together.
I do not consider myself an expert on the social sectors, but in the spirit of John Gardner, I am a student. Yet I've become a passionate student.
I've come to see that it is simply not good enough to focus solely on having a great business sector. If we only have great companies, we will merely have a prosperous society, not a great one. Economic growth and power are the means, not the definition, of a great nation. We must reject the idea—well-intentioned, but dead wrong—that the primary path to greatness in the social sectors is to become "more like a business. Few are great. When you compare great companies with good ones, many widely practiced business norms turn out to correlate with mediocrity, not greatness.
So, then, why would we want to import the practices of mediocrity into the social sectors? I shared this perspective with a gathering of business CEOs, and offended nearly everyone in the room.
A hand shot up from David Weekley, one of the more thoughtful CEOs—a man who built a very successful company and who now spends nearly half his time working with the social sectors. Mediocre companies rarely display the relentless culture of discipline—disciplined people who engage in disciplined thought and who take disciplined action—that we find in truly great companies.
A culture of discipline is not a principle of business; it is a principle of greatness. Later, at dinner, we continued our debate, and I asked Weekley: Would you have been less likely to practice enlightened leadership, or put less energy into getting the right people on the bus, or been less demanding of results?
That's when it dawned on me: The critical distinction is not between business and social, but between great and good. We need to reject the naive imposition of the "language of business" on the social sectors, and instead jointly embrace a language of greatness. The pivot point in Good to Great is the Hedgehog Concept. The essence of a Hedgehog Concept is to attain piercing clarity about how to produce the best long-term results, and then exercising the relentless discipline to say, "No thank you" to opportunities that fail the hedgehog test.
Would you have been less likely to practice enlightened leadership, or put less energy into getting the right people on the bus, or been less demanding of results?
The critical distinction is not between business and social, but between great and good. We need to reject the naive imposition of the "language of business" on the social sectors, and instead jointly embrace a language of greatness.
The essence of a Hedgehog Concept is to attain piercing clarity about how to produce the best long-term results, and then exercising the relentless discipline to say, "No thank you" to opportunities that fail the hedgehog test. When we examined the Hedgehog Concepts of the good-to-great companies, we found they reflected deep understanding of three intersecting circles: 1 what you are deeply passionate about, 2 what you can be the best in the world at, and 3 what best drives your economic engine.
Social sector leaders found the Hedgehog Concept helpful, but many rebelled against the third circle, the economic engine. I found this puzzling. Sure, making money is not the point, but you still need to have an economic engine to fulfill your mission. Then I had a conversation with John Morgan, a pastor with more than 30 years of experience in congregational work, then serving as a minister of a church in Reading, Pennsylvania.
We're passionate about trying to rebuild this community, and we can be the best in our region at creating a generation of transformational leaders that reflects the full diversity of the community.
That is our Hedgehog Concept. First, we face a cultural problem of talking about money in a religious setting, coming from a tradition that says love of money is the root of all evil. And second, we rely upon much more than money to keep this place going. How do we get enough resources of all types—not just money to pay the bills, but also time, emotional commitment, hands, hearts, and minds? The third circle of the Hedgehog Concept shifts from being an economic engine to a resource engine.
The critical question is not "How much money do we make? They are significant, and they must be addressed. Still, the fact remains, we can find pockets of greatness in nearly every difficult environment—whether it be the airline industry, education, healthcare, social ventures, or government-funded agencies. Every institution has its unique set of irrational and difficult constraints, yet some make a leap while others facing the same environmental challenges do not.
This is perhaps the single most important point in all of Good to Great. Greatness is not a function of circumstance.
Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline. Most social sector leaders, on the other hand, must rely on people underpaid relative to the private sector or, in the case of volunteers, paid not at all.
Yet a finding from our research is instructive: the key variable is not how or how much you pay, but who you have on the bus.