Good To Great #7: Technology Accelerators

Posted: June 16, 2010 in Change Leadership, Good To Great, Jim Collins, Success, Technology
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In this the seventh post from Jim Collins book, Good To Great, I will examine his discussion of technology accelerators.  Collins details that good to great companies think differently about technology than mediocre companies. Collins reveals good to great companies avoid the distractions of technology fads and bandwagons, yet they become pioneers of carefully selected technologies that enhance their pursuit to be the best in the world at what they do.

Good to great companies always ask this question of themselves when it comes to the use of technology:

Does the technology fit in with our Hedgehog concept?

Good to great companies show us that technology should be used as an accelerator, not a creator of momentum. Comparison companies often sought out technology as a means to an end, whereas good to great companies always used technology to enhance what they have already decided on as their hedgehog concept.

Due to the measured deliberate approach of good to great companies, you could have taken leading edge technologies pioneered at the good to great companies and given them to their direct comparisons for free, and the comparisons would have failed to produce anywhere near the same results.

Good to great companies go through the process of asking:

  • How can technology connect to our hedgehog concept?
  • How can we link it to our economic denominator?

The Hedgehog concept must drive the use of technology, not the other way around. Good to great companies see technology as an accelerator, not a creator, of momentum.  Comparison companies often have the opposite approach looking for a magic bullet to fix their problems or create some magic needed to take them to the next level.

Look at how a good to great company might discuss a new technology that has just hit the market place:

Does this technology fit directly with our Hedgehog concept?

  • Yes: We need to become a pioneer in it
  • No: Do you need it at all then?
  • Yes: Then all we need is parity with it
  • No: This technology is irrelevant and we can ignore it

Collins reveals to us that 80 of 84 good to great company CEOs did not even put technology in the top 5 factors of their success as companies.

This highlights the fact that mediocre results come first and foremost from management failures, not technological failures.

Although you will see lesser companies blame their failures on the latter in order to remove the responsibility from where it should actually be, on their shoulders.

Not one of the comparison companies’ demise was found to primarily come from a technology torpedo that blew it out of the water.

The study of comparison companies reveals that when technology is used without a deep understanding of how it links to a clear and coherent concept, technology simply accelerates your own self-created demise.

There is no technology can:

  • Make you a level 5 leader!
  • Turn wrong people into right people!
  • Instill discipline to confront the brutal facts!
  • Supplant the need for a deep understanding of the three circles!
  • Create a culture of discipline!

So the lesson here is not to get seduced into taking the technology drug as the magic pill to cure-all your organization’s ills and set you on the path to greatness. Technology should instead be viewed as an accelerator to your already determined path to success and greatness, not a creator of!


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