Jim Collins

Both-And and First Rate Intelligence

the test of a first rate intelligence is to hold two opposing ideas in mind, F. Scott Fitzgerald

The test of a first rate intelligence is to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. One should . . . be able to see that things are hopeless yet be determined to make them otherwise. F. Scott Fitzgerald

I loved this quote the first time I read it. And the first time I read it was in Jim Collins book, Built to Last, in the chapter on Both/And. The idea of both-and was powerful and it frames the way I approach life, leadership, and the Christian faith.

Jim Collins used it to talk about how businesses can pursue both profits and make quality products, or be environmentally or socially conscious. He used this way of thinking in contrast to the either-or way of thinking. We can make money OR we can make good products. 


Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death
Great Leadership Lessons, Note 30

greatness is largely a matter of choice, Jim Collins quoteThe search for leader-saviors and silver-bullet solutions has not worked. Decline has continued, maybe even accelerated. At this late point, Collins says two things can happen (pp. 105).

(1)  The leadership believes that giving up, closing shop, shutting down is better than fighting on.

(2)  The leadership does not give up, but like a seriously advanced disease, the organization just dies... or shrinks to the point of irrelevance.

Collins has a profound insight that deserves a complete quote (pp. 111).

Stage Four Decline: Things Are Just About Over

Looking for a Savior, or a Silver Bullet, or a Magic Wand
Great Leadership Lessons, Note 29

It has been some time since I posted about Great Leadership Lessons From Jim Collins. You may want to CLICK HERE AND GO SEE THE LIST OF THEMES I have been covering in this How the Mighty Fall section of leadership lessons.

The last one I did, finished Stage Three of decline. With this thought, we move into Stage Four. Collins says this is now the time when organizations begin to look for the "savior" who will rescue them from their decline. Organizations go looking for the great leader, the genius, the magic-maker, who will wave the wand and fix all the organizational problems.

Here is the point Collins wants to make. Well, there are actually a few points.

Whether You Fail or Prevail...

Jim Collins quote, whether you prevail or fail, personal responsibilityLife Long Learning, Note 04
I have a recent conversation with a young leader. This person has some real gifts and has been working on those gifts. I was actually pretty impressed. They are REALLY working on their personal development.

So I asked them - why? Where is the energy coming from that fuels their commitment to the hard work of personal development. Again - I was quite impressed with what he said. 

Four Signs of Stage One Decline (The Results of Pride)

The Signs are Clear When You Have the Eyes to See
Someone in your organization needs to have those eyes!
Great Leadership Lessons, Note 22

dogmatic, dogmatism, deathIt has been several weeks since my previous post in this series. To refresh your memory - check out Pride is the Deadly Organizational Sin.
There are four signs Collins mentions that are the results of pride. Here is a brief explanation of each.

The Five Stages of Decline

Introducing the Stages
Great Leadership Lessons, Note 20

Today is an overview of the Five Stages of Decline. In following posts, I will give more detail to each stage.

Five Stages of Decline Jim Collins

ONE. Pride.
It is always the original and deadliest of sins.  Whether in your personal life or in that of an organization - it is ALWAYS DEADLY. Organizations themselves take on the character of its leaders. Remember Enron and its leadership tribe who believed they were "the smartest guys in the room"?

How the Mighty Fall - Decline Happens

organizational declineGreat Leadership Lesson, Note 19
Without Constant Resistance Entropy Wins in the End

Decline. Decay. Diminishment. Disintegration. Regression. Going Downhill. Whatever you want to call it. It happens. To all of us. Even to the best of us. Individuals, families, teams, organizations, nations - Decline Happens.

The Boston Celtics are my NBA Team. They were so great (years ago). Now it is hard to watch them!

The Dallas Cowboys WERE my NFL Team. They were great (decades ago...sigh). Now I won't watch them!

Good Enough Never Is

Great Leadership Lessons,

Collins is so ironic and right in one of last paragraphs in the chapter, Good Enough Never Is, that I'll give you most of that quote.

The good news is that one of the key elements of being a visionary company is strikingly simple: Good old-fashioned hard work, dedication to improvement, and continually building for the future will take you a long way. 

Try a Lot of Stuff and Keep What Works

Great Leadership Lessons, NOTE 16
8 Ideas to Guide Your Constant Experimenting

Remember we are talking about  stimulating the periphery. We are not talking about the core. You always keep and preserve the CORE. On everything else, Collins says great organizations are constantly innovating, experimenting . . . trying a lot of stuff and keeping what works. Here are eight ideas to help you do just that.

Remember, preserve your core mission, values and culture.

All innovation and experimentation is in the service of your CORE.

Raving Fans in Every Seat (of the Bus)

Raving Fans book Ken BlanchardGreat Leadership Lessons, Note 13

Raving Fans!
You have probably heard that phrase before. It is the title of a very good book on customer service written by Ken Blanchard. If you haven't read it - you need to.


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