Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Choosing to be Great

Jim Collins & Morten Hansen, Great by Choice--Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck--Why Some Thrive Despite Them All

“Jim Collins’ Great by Choice study shows that whether we prevail or fail, endure or die, depends more upon on what we do, than on what the world does to us.” We all make mistakes, but we can also self-correct, survive, and build greatness. I used Jim Collins’ nine years of research on why some companies flourish in uncertainty and others do not to guide my thinking on how to create a leading teaching and learning system for all students and staff.

Collins clarified that successful leaders are not bold risk takers, but observers of what is working and figuring out why it works and build upon these proven foundations. It reminded me of the work of Douglas Reeves, a noted expert on education and school reform and author of the Leadership and Learning Antecedents of Excellence Matric. Reeves work builds clarity on how good results with clear understanding of the reasons why it work is “Leading” rather than “Lucky.” Even poor results with a clear understanding of the reason is a “Learning” opportunity rather than a “Losing” prospect.

Collins work helps define how leaders can influence growth and achievement with fantastic discipline, productive paranoia, and empirical creativity. This true self-discipline requires having the inner will to do whatever it takes to create a great outcome, no matter how difficult. During times of change or uncertainty they look to engage directly with the evidence and rely upon observations to determine how to best proceed with the genius of the AND, not the OR. The leaders of enduring great systems are comfortable with paradox, having the ability to embrace two opposing ideas in the mind as the same time and still retain the ability to function well.

They found extensive evidence of having both:
Discipline and Creative,
Imperial Validation and Bold Moves,
Prudence and Big Hairy Audacious Goals,
Paranoid and Courageous,
Furiously Ambitious and NOT Ego Centric,
Performance Standards with No Excuses and Never Going Too Far,

to become “Great by Choice.”

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