From Good to Great… to Mediocre


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Remember Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great? It was one of the all time favourite management books of the last decade, selling millions of copies worldwide in many languages. The book identified 11 companies that had gone from being good to great and identified five management principles that explained their success. Like Tom Peters’ In Search of Excellence before it, Good to Great claimed to have found the magic elixir of management success.

Well, maybe not.

Two recent studies by economists suggests that the companies that went from being good to great have continued their evolution to become, just mediocre. The first by Resnick & Smoot found that none of the 11 companies identified in Good to Great delivered superior market performance over subsequent periods using modern market performance measures. The second by Niendorf & Beck found that the 11 companies in fact performed no better than an average S&P 500 company.

Another popular management book bites the dust. Who can you believe these days? Not management gurus, that’s for sure!

Post a comment or email me at graham(dot)hill(at)web(dot)de to get the conversation going?

Tip of the hat to Peter Klein at the Organisations & Markets blog.

Graham Hill
Customer-driven Innovator
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Further Reading:

Jim Collins, Good to Great

Tom Peters, In Search of Excellence

Peter Klein, Good to Great: Neither Good nor Great

Graham Hill (Dr G)
Business Troubleshooter | Questioning | Thoughtful | Industrious | Opinions my own | Connect with me on LinkedIn


  1. Peter Klein at the Organisations and Markets blog has another interesting post that debunks a number of other popular management classics, including Peters & Waterman’s ‘In Search of Excellence’, Collins & Porras’ ‘Built to Last’ and the ‘Evergreen Project’.

    Phil Rosenzweig’s book ‘The Halo Effect’ shows that all of these books (and probably most popular management books) suffer from a number of sampling, methodological and even inductive logic failures that makes their conclusions almost meaningless as a guide to what you should do.

    As Peter Klein points out in his blog post, these books become runaway hits not because of the quality of their authors’ research, or their thinking, but because of the quality of their authors’ storytelling.

    Graham Hill
    Independent CRM Consultant
    Interim CRM Manager

    Further Reading:

    Peter Klein
    The Best Business Book I’ve Read This Year

    Phil Rosenzweig
    The Halo Effect


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