Good to meh!

A colleague of mine attended a conference in Birmingham yesterday and was today explaining some of the ideas that were covered by the speakers, one of whom was Sir Clive Woodward. I was listening intently to his explanation, but began to experience a strange sort of word based déjà vu, a split second later and my colleague uttered three simple words that allowed me to reconcile the sense of déjà vu, whilst simultaneously filling me with feelings of “holy crap” and “not this shit again”. Those words were “good to great”. I have a distinct dislike for this book and most of the reasons why are captured excellently in this post by Rob May, suffice to say though that my main objection stems from my feeling that the advice within it can mainly be categorized as blindingly obvious and/or ambiguous beyond all belief. It enables managers to console themselves with the fact that they are on the road from good to great, despite them actually being in a state of moonwalking on a treadmill… next to the road to nowhere. It looks spectacular, but there really isn’t much progress being made and if one of the principles does get some traction, it won’t lead anywhere good.

As for Rob May’s comment about slimy weasels, I’m not even touching that one. <insert evil laugh here>

6 thoughts on “Good to meh!

  1. Must just throw in this article, looking at the fate of some of the companies identified in ‘Good to Great’ (in 2001?) and where there are now…

    I don’t want to be overly critical of a book I haven’t read, but in some ways, its success is its downfall: It has sold millions of copies and still sells 300,000 copies a year, eight years after it was first published (according to the linked article above). So if it’s so good (and lots of people think so), where are all the great companies that should have resulted from such wide readership?

    To be so popular, the book must make valid points, and be inspirational to a degree, but unfortunately, it is still left (quite necessarily) as an exercise to the reader to actually answer the key questions like ‘what can we be best in the world at?’. Discovering that you need to ask these questions is a start, but if you didn’t realise you needed to ask them without getting it from a book, you probably lack the innate ability to be great in business anyway.

  2. @Chris: Thanks for the link, interesting reading.

    I think part of the problem with G2G is that it assumes that the common traits of the eleven subject companies were the reason they all achieved “greatness” and this is not necessarily true. I would also assert that part of it’s success is the “me too” culture prevalent in society today.

    I do agree that purchasing/reading the book is a double edged sword; the book does contain some sensible advice and can serve as a catalyst for improvement, but it is absolutely not the instruction manual for business success that some claim it to be. I don’t think it bodes well for the reader if all they take away from the book are questions, but like you said, they certainly won’t find the answers.

  3. Hmmmm – good to great.

    How great is Clubbed to Death by Rob D?

    Awesome.

    But then so is Suspicious Minds by The King…

  4. @Gruntfuggly: I’m not sure whether your comment is supposed to be humourous (maybe you’ve had a few), or if it is a subtle reference to
    “being trapped in a mistrusting and dysfunctional relationship”.

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