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Good to Great


The following questions and discussion items elicit strategic thinking by those responsible to lead a Christian ministry, especially as they employ strategic planning processes. Jim Collins and his research team identified characteristics of those organizations that transitioned from being “good” to becoming “great.”


Demonstrating Level 5 Leadership

Level 5 leaders embody a paradoxical mix of personal humility and professional will. [They] are fanatically driven, infected with an incurable need to produce sustained results. They are resolved to do whatever it takes to make the [organization] great, no matter how big or hard the decisions” (page 39).

Item one: What evidence can you offer from your experience at your Christian ministry that you possess or are developing this level of professional will?


Assembling the Right Team of People Before Determining Exactly What It Should Do

“Good-to-great leaders began the transformation by first getting the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) and then figured out where to drive it” (Page 62).

Item two: Can you accurately and courageously classify those individuals currently serving with you as either: 1) the right person for his/her role, 2) the right person, but in the wrong role, or 3) the wrong person to serve at your Christian ministry (he/she doesn’t “belong on the bus”)?

Item three: Describe the opportunities you have had at your Christian ministry to exhibit the following people disciplines

—when in doubt, don’t hire—keep looking

—when you know you need to make a people change, act

—put your best people on your biggest opportunities, not your biggest problems



Hearing and Confronting the Brutal Facts, Yet Never Losing Faith

“All good-to-great companies began the process of finding a path to greatness by confronting the brutal facts of their current reality” (page 88).

Item four: What process(es) do you employ to determine the truth of your situation?

Item five: What mistakes have you made in applying the “Stockdale Paradox”—retaining faith that you can and will prevail in the end, while confronting the most brutal facts of your current reality? 

Item six: Have you wasted time and energy trying to motivate people? people who didn’t “belong on the bus”


Understanding What Can and Should Be Passionately and Profitably Pursued (Collin’s “Hedgehog Concept”)

Item seven: Both great organizations and those that are not labor to create strategic plans. Do you have the patience and passion to enter into a process to discover what you can be the best in the world at and what you cannot?

Item eight: “Every [great organization] eventually gained a deep understanding of [the principle of focusing solely on what it could potentially do better than any other organization] and pinned its future on allocating resources to those few arenas” (pages 100-101). Are you willing to engage in difficult and potentially controversial change in order to become part of a great organization?


Pursuing Purpose(s) with Discipline

“Sustained great results depend upon building a culture full of self-disciplined people who take disciplined action, fanatically consistent with [best-in-the-world activities that it can passionately and profitably pursue]” (page 142).

Item nine: Do you and the individuals who serve with you have this diligence and intensity?

Item ten: What should you and your Christian ministry stop doing? “In a good-to-great transformation, budgeting is a discipline to decide which arenas should be fully funded and which should not be funded at all” (page 140).


Using Technology Wisely

“The good-to-great companies used technology as an accelerator of momentum, not a creator of it. You could have taken [these] same leading-edge technologies … and handed them to [subpar organizations] for free, and [they] still would have failed to produce anywhere near the same results” (page 162).

Item eleven: What technology expenditures has your Christian ministry wasted because it was a responding to trends rather than employing technology to accelerate the pursuit of its purpose(s)?


Building Momentum for Long-Term Commitment to Purpose(s)

“Good-to-great transformations often look like dramatic, revolutionary events to those observing from outside, but they feel like cumulative processes to people on the inside. No matter how dramatic the end result, the good-to-great transformations never happened in one fell swoop” (p. 186).  “Tremendous power exists in the fact of continual improvement and the delivery of results. Point to tangible accomplishments—however incremental at first—and show how these steps fit into the context of an overall concept that will work. When you do this in such a way that people see and feel the buildup of momentum, they will line up with enthusiasm” (pages 174-175). 

Item twelve: What long-term payoff actions deserve your Christian ministry’s patient, persistent pursuit and support?

Item thirteen: What costs have been incurred by your Christian ministry for bets on new programs or products that were inconsistent with sustained, consistent pursuit of its purpose(s)?


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