The only way to remain great is to keep applying the fundamental principles that made you great. —Jim Collins


What do Great Leaders Have?






Chapter 6: A Culture of Discipline


Another defining characteristic of the companies that Collins defined as great in his study was an overarching organizational culture of discipline. He is quick to point out that a culture of discipline is not to be confused with a strict authoritarian environment; instead, Collins is referring to an organization in which each manager and staff member is driven by an unrelenting inner sense of determination. In this type of organization, each individual functions as an entrepreneur, with a deeply rooted personal investment in both their own work and the company’s success.

Although this discipline will manifest itself in a high standard of quality in the work that is produced by managers and employees alike, its most significant outcome will be an almost fanatical devotion to the objectives outlined in the "hedgehog concept" exercises. Disciplined workers will be better equipped to hew to these goals with a single-minded intensity that, according to Collins, will foster the transformation from merely Good to Great. In addition, the author asserts, it is important that within this overarching culture of discipline, every team member is afforded the degree of personal empowerment and latitude that is necessary to ensure that they will be able to go to unheard-of extremes to bring the firm’s envisioned objectives into existence.

• Sustained great results depend upon building a culture full of self disciplined people who take disciplined action, and who are fanatically consistent within the three circles.


• Bureaucratic cultures arise to compensate for incompetence and lack of discipline, which arise from having the wrong people on the bus in the first place.  If you get the right people on the bus, and the wrong people off, you don’t need stultifying bureaucracy.


• A culture of discipline involves a duality.  On the one hand, it requires people who adhere to a consistent system; yet, on the other hand, it gives people freedom and responsibility within the framework of that system.


• A culture of discipline is not just about action.  It is about getting disciplined people who engage in disciplined thought and who then take disciplined action.


• Good to Great companies could appear boring and pedestrian looking in from the outside, but upon closer inspection, they are full of people who display extreme diligence and a stunning intensity.


• The single most important form of discipline for sustained results is fanatically adherence to the Hedgehog Concept and the willingness to shun opportunities that fall outside of the three circles.


Unexpected Findings
• The more an organization has the discipline to stay within its three circles, with almost religious consistency, the more it will have opportunities for growth.
• The fact that something could be a ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ is irrelevant, unless it fits within the three circles.  A great company will have many once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
• The purpose of budgeting in a Good to Great Company is not to decide how much each activity gets, but to decide which arenas best fit the Hedgehog Concept and should be fully funded and which should not be funded at all.
• ‘Stop doing’ lists are often more important than ‘to do’ lists.


Circle One - What we can be the best in the world at?
We do this ‘one thing’ really well
We can be one of the best in the world at this


Circle Two - What drives our economic engine?
We can figure this out to make our business work
We have a plan as to how we can be profitable
We have a “profit per customer” number


Circle Three - What we are deeply passionate about?
We exist as a company to do this ‘one thing’
We are ‘go’

A culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship creates a magical alchemy of superior performance and sustained results.


Build a Culture
• Who knows and stays within the Three Circles
• That honors freedom, accountability, responsibility and trust within a framework
• Of folks who are willing to go to extreme lengths to fulfill their responsibilities
• Of Discipline not Tyranny
• That sticks to the ‘one  thing’
• Who can unplug and disconnect anything that is extraneous

Four things:


1. Buy the book and read it
2. Reach out to us and let’s see how we can help you
3. Don’t settle for Good when you can have Great
4. Consider taking the assessment that is tied to our Performance Coaching System -- send an email to: [email protected] -- please include your first and last name