Quicklet on Jim Collins' Great By Choice

by Jason Shen

What's in the book?

Quicklets: Your reading sidekick!

    • About the book
    • Summary & Analysis
    • Key terms and definitions
    • Major themes & important lessons for startups

Description

ABOUT THE BOOK

I just finished reading Jim Collins’ new book. Great by Choice: Uncertainty Chaos and Luck—Why Some Thrive Despite Them All (often GBC from here on out) describes the results of a deep investigation into how young companies can survive and thrive in chaotic, turbulent environments to achieve spectacular results.

The book is of great value to startups and entrepreneurs seeking to build enduringly great companies. In this ebook, I look at how his concepts of fanatical discipline, productive paranoia, and empirical creativity apply to building a startup that succeeds over the long-term.

To Note: I think that if you’re trying to found-n-flip a business, most of these lessons do not apply. Rather, they’re specifically for founders/leaders who want to be a long-lasting business success. Additionally, I don’t want readers to come away with the idea that these are the only ways to become an enduring success. However, we have more evidence to suggest that these ways will work compared to many other approaches.

MEET THE AUTHOR

Jason Shen is the co-founder of Ridejoy - a Y Combinator-funded community marketplace for ridesharing. His blog, The Art of Ass-Kicking, has been featured by Lifehacker and ReadWriteWeb. Jason studied biology and philosophy at Stanford where he led the men's gymnastics team to an NCAA national championship.

Ridejoy is a company where friendly and talented people can do their best work and make the world a better place. We would love to have you join us: http://ridejoy.com/jobs

 

EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK

Luck: the dirty word in all success, business, and self-improvement literature. Perhaps some people and companies just get lucky, and our ability to draw useful lessons and conclusions from their success is just not possible. But Collins and his team anticipated the curiosity, at any rate, and devoted an entire chapter to luck.

GBC applied a consistent methodology to both pairs of companies to analyze how luck played a role in their outcomes. About 230 luck events were categorized and studied, each meeting all three criteria of being unpredictable, independent of the actions of key players, and having significant good or bad implications for the business.

Examples of luck events include Amgen isolating the gene for EPO, which it likened to “finding a sugar cube in a lake a mile wide/long/deep,” or the New England Journal of Medicine publishing a paper that challenged the effectiveness of one of Genentech’s major drug products.

What they found: Neither 10x-ers or comparison companies had substantially more good luck or bad luck events, nor did one giant piece of good luck carry a 10x company through all its success. Luck exists, but it tends to even out the playing field. What matters is “Return on Luck,” or how you take advantage of good luck and avoid choking.

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