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In this book, Jim Collins also challenges the notion that "people are your most important asset" and postulates, instead, that "the right people are." Despite the author's emphasis on finding the right people, there's no evidence that a company has to have concern for its employees as a core value for it to be great. There are a number of inherently great companies that didn't have this. I don't think Walt Disney cared about his people. He cared about films, and Disneyland, and smiles of kids. On the other side, with Hewlett-Packard and IBM, you had the antithesis of Walt Disney. When you look at corporate history, what matters is not what core values you have but that you have core value, and that you believe them. As another example, take David Maxwell's bus ride. When he became CEO of Fannie Mae in 1981, the company was losing $1 million every business day, with $56 billion worth of mortgage loans under water. The board desperately wanted to know what Maxwell was going to do to rescue the company. Maxwell responded to the "what" question the same way that all good-to-great leaders do: He told them, "That's the wrong first question.
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There are two sides to that coin. If you don't have concern for employees as a core value, don't say that you do. That will cause more harm. Fundamentally, if your value system is the mission, then be honest about it and pursue it fanatically. The author had stressed on the importance of giving an honest and objective analysis of the company. Organizations have to embrace reality, but they must believe they will prevail. The other side of the coin is equally important: there's no evidence that you're at a competitive disadvantage if you do have a tremendous concern for your people. You can have a great company having that as a core value. So the real question is, what are your company values? Live them fanatically. These values must prevail in the changing world.
Relevance to Filipino Entrepreneurs. Dean Rudy Ang would always say that entrepreneurs are greatly needed to help boost the Philippine economy. Entrepreneurs who create successful businesses "give something back to their community." They create jobs and lessen the increasing unemployment rate in the country, they uphold the talents and skills of their kababayans, they are able to make efficient use of the country's natural resources, and so on. In particular, Level 5 Leaders are those that our country needs. Who are these leaders? No one knows for sure because there is a direct relationship between the absence of celebrity and the presence of Good to Great results in a company. First, when you have a celebrity, the company turns into "the one genius with 1,000 helpers." It creates a sense that the whole thing is really about the CEO. At a deeper level, for leaders to make something great, their ambition has to be for the greatness of the work and the company, rather than for themselves. That doesn't mean that they don't have an ego. It means that at each decision point at each of the critical junctures when Choice A would favor their ego and Choice B would favor the company and the work -- time and again the Good to Great leaders pick Choice B. Celebrity CEOs, at those same decision points, are more likely to favor self and ego over company and work.
Like the anonymous CEOs, most of the Good to Great companies are unheralded. The truth is, few people are working on the most glamorous things in the world. Most of them are doing real work -- which means that most of the time they're doing a heck of a lot of drudgery with only a few moments of excitement. People who make cars, who sell real estate, and who run grocery stores or banks, do the real work of and for the economy. One of the great findings of this study is that you can be in a great company and be doing it in steel, in drug stores, or in grocery stores. No one has the right to whine about their company, their industry, or the kind of business that they're in ever again.
For promising Filipino entrepreneurs, the basic message of Jim Collins' book is this: Build your own flywheel. Entrepreneurs need to believe that they can do it. They can start to build momentum in something for which they've got responsibility. They can build a great department or a great church group. In response to the current economic slump of the country, Good to Great suggests that companies must try to acquire as many of the best people as they could. They must put off everything else, specifically those projects requiring large amounts of investments (and large "contributions" to the local government), to fill their buses. They mustn't give up. If they do things right, their flywheels are going to start to turn. The single biggest constraint on the success of their organizations is the ability to get and to hang on to enough of the right people.
Companies that make the change from Good to Great have no name for their transformation and absolutely no program. They neither rant nor rave about a crisis and the Philippines is home to many (crises, that is) and they don't manufacture one where none exists. They don't "motivate" people to do their job right despite the many temptations to make easy money because their people are self-motivated. In the Philippines, the chances of making easy money is even more disastrous than the slow and steady process of improving one's business. For example, during the 1990's, so many Filipinos lost their money to the "pyramid scam." This was pioneered by the arrival of the company named Amway. Eventually, some unregistered businesses following the same scheme duped a lot of Filipinos to invest their money in their company with pretty offers such as "be you on boss" without offering substantial financial returns. There is no easy way to make money. Filipinos must learn the value of hard work in order to reach their goals successfully.
Everyone can transform from Good to Great. I'm also convinced that the Good to Great findings apply broadly not just to CEOs, but also to you and me in whatever work we're engaged in, including the work of our own lives. For many people, the first question that occurs is, "But how do I persuade my CEO to get it?" Don't worry about that. Focus instead on results on subverting mediocrity by creating a Flywheel Effect within your own span of responsibility. So long as we can choose the people we want to put on our own minibus, each of us can create a pocket of greatness. Most Filipinos would think that getting "connections" to ride their own minibuses is synonymous to getting the right people in. For this same reason, the country becomes more and more deeply immersed in graft, corruption, plunder, and nepotism. We need to get the good people on our minibuses. These are the people who are willing to work hard and do their job right. Each of us can take our own area of work and influence and can concentrate on moving it from Good to Great. It doesn't really matter whether all the CEOs get it. It only matters that you and I do. Now, it's time to get to work.