from good to great

When I was first introduced to the book, Good to Great, I was a HS English teacher and my then Principal encouraged me to read this book. While reading Good to Great, I was encouraged and inspired by Jim Collin’s simple message: we all have the ability to achieve greatness. As a teacher this inspired me to continue to set the bar high for my students (many of whom were already good students) so that they knew I believed that they could be great and so that they could see how to be GREAT students.

The concept of moving from good to great is not easy. In fact, human nature causes us to even somewhat resist the notion of moving beyond the status quo if all appears well. Yet, I often thought both as a teacher and now as an administrator, what do I mean by “great results?”. In fact, is what I believe to be great comparable to other schools in America and/or the world? As Jim Collins states, ” You must retain faith that you can prevail to greatness in the end…” This close examination of what specifically I am classifying as great (and comparing these results to other organizations) is key to the growth and development of not only myself, but all students.

As Jim Collins notes in his book, Good to Great in the Social Sectors, there are four stages to move any organization from good to great. These stages are outlined below.

Stage 1: Disciplined people

Collins explains that as leaders, we must realize that the only way to achieve greatness is to show others that I am “motivated for the greatness of our work, not myself”. As a result, the culture and climate structure of the organization will reflect this mission.

Stages 2 and 3: Disciplined thought and Disciplined action

The act of disciplining thoughts and actions are categorized as the Hedgehog effect. Collins defines this as knowing why your organization/school exists and what it values (passion), knowing what your organization/school can do to help people and know what resources are needed (time, money and branding) that will cause the organization/school to continue to achieve greatness.

Stage 4: Building greatness to last

Greatness in any organization/ school takes time and Collins argues that when moving the momentum forward, the organization must continue to focus on who they are hiring, examine the results of the organization, continue to brand the organization, and attract others to support the organization (both time and money).

Several times in Collins book, he notes the success of Southwest airlines. One key element that Southwest is known for is people first and the continual desire to achieve greatness. Much can be learned from organizations like Southwest; people first and the thinking,”what can you do today to create a pocket of greatness?”

To read more, check out the book, Good to Great and the Social Sectors by Jim Collins on

Good to Great  and the Social Sectors by Jim Collins

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