DIY MBA: Good to Great by Jim Collins

It’s not surprising that those obsessed with productivity are also obsessed with audiobooks. Our business section is jam-packed with great titles, like Good to Great.

This book is a classic for a reason. Collins and his team rigorously researched Good to Great and offer frequent sidebars explaining the background details that inform their conclusions. Somehow they manage to make the data sexy and, even better, they make it tell a story.

Collins himself tells the story (or should I say, stories) in the audiobook version. His passion for the subject matter is unmistakeable. He doesn’t just read the book, he reminisces about the experience of researching and writing. Sinking my teeth into this book felt like listening to a great non-fiction book. It helps that the principles are universally applicable – in talking about the qualities that make for the kind of leader who can take a team from Good to Great, Collins talks about how prevalent these people are in non-CEO roles: Scout leaders, elementary school teachers and others who naturally end up in leadership positions because they love building teams that are greater than the sum of their parts.

And at the end of the day, that’s what Collins and his team say is the big difference that can propel a company from Good to Great: they call it “getting the right people on the bus” – and say that where the bus is headed is secondary. There are a million and one theories of how to build a successful business, but Collins makes a very compelling case for getting the right people on the bus, and the right person in the driver’s seat, as job number one.

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