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Embarking Blog

...on the journey towards restoration of all things

Filtering by Tag: Jim Collins

Never, Ever, Give Up, Jim Collins


Jim began with one of his famous phrases, made popular in his excellent book, "Good to Great:  Why some companies make the leap... while others don't":

Good is the enemy of great.

He also said very importantly that "Greatness is largely a matter of choice, not circumstances."  That's a powerful sentence.  Certainly circumstance plays a part, and Jim acknowledged this later saying that pride and hubris shows itself often when leaders don't acknowledge at all the luck and blessings that have come their way without any of their doing.  However, circumstances alone do not move people to become companies that are built to last, that move from good to great, or become the reasons why the might fall.

Jim focused on the 5 stages in his recent book, "How the Mighty Fall and why some companies never give in" dealing with organizations and leaders who lose momentum and fall from a place of strength and greatness.  What's really helpful about these 5 stages is the truth that "You can be sick on the inside, but still look strong on the outside."  It's important to note that these stages are largely self-inflicted.  Unlike disease, organization decline is more about what you do to yourself that what happens to you.  It's also important to note that the fall doesn't come until stage 4, so you're over 50% on the way before you have presenting issues.

Stages of "How The Mighty Fall"

  1. Hubris born of success leading:  The signature of the greatest leaders is their humility.  They had a passionate focus to go after the vision and values with all they have, but remained humble in the process.  Here, Collins spoke of an outrageous  arrogance that does not see the balance between disciplined decisions and the blessings of circumstance and even luck.  Of course, disciplined decision-making is key, but it's also key to be humble about the things that are out of our control that often contribute greatly to our success.
  2. An undisciplined pursuit of more:  More is not bad in itself.  It is the over-reaching, the undisciplined pursuit of more.  Patrick's Law:  if you allow growth to exceed the ability of the fantastic people to execute, you have been undisciplined in your growth.  If you do not have fantastic people in who fit the 4 C's (see Bill Hybels), you have to wait and not go after more until those people are in place.  One challenging thing Jim said (which, I think, is true) is that if you do not have the right people in place with the character, competence, chemistry, and fit to your culture, then you must wait for the more for which they are required for execution.  "Bad decisions with good intentions are still bad decisions."
  1. Denial of risk and peril:   In order to this, the great leaders and organizations have to have faith (optimism, positivity, etc.), but also have to confront the brutal facts (cf. the chapter on this in Good to Great.)  Optimism without the facts is just a wish-dream, and facts without faith alone is less than motivational and won't move anyone forward.  Failing to look at the real risks and assess the situation, and then take the strong leap of faith with a serious understanding of the risks involved is just plain foolish.
  2. Grasping for Salvation:  Disciplined people engaged in disciplined thought and taking disciplined action make deliberate movement in a determined direction move the fly-wheel.  Those who begin to grasp for salvation have lost their intentionality and disciplined approach.  Their energy dissipates and ultimately leads to decline.
  3. Capitulation to irrelevance or death:  Lasting organizations had a reason to go endure that is more than just money or success.  They had an answer to the question, "What would be lost if we ceased to exist?"  They are driven by a reason that goes beyond money and success, Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG's)

To Do List:

  1. Take a team/ organizational diagnostic.  Check out for 3 free diagnostic tools for your teams and organizations.
  2. Count and account for blessings. When we forget to count all the good things that happen to us, we're on our way to the first stage.
  3. What is your questions to statements ratio, and can you double it in this next year?
  4. How many key seats do you have on your bus?  How many of the seats are filled with the right people?  What are your plans to get the right people in the right seats?  Are you on the way up as a team, or on the way down?
  5. (missed it... but so did everyone else it appears)
  6. With your team of the right people, create an inventory of the brutal facts.
  7. What are we disciplined to stop doing?
  8. Define results and show clicks/ milestones on the fly wheel.
  9. Double your reach to young people by changing your practices without changing your core values.
  10. Set a BHAG rooted in your purpose to reinforce that your work is never done.

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Summit: Session 5


from Willow Creek Leadership Summit 2008: Session 5, Craig Groeschel,, IT: How Leaders Get IT and Keep IT

Intro:  We've all been to churches that don't have "it."  They're flat.  We've all been to churches that have "IT."  It is that something special of God that is so real that lives are transformed by the very Spirit of God in a special way so that people meet Jesus Christ, and want to tell their friends about it.

Sometimes you can have the same things (same people, same form), and one group has "IT" and another doesn't.  Example:  same forms of worship, same kinds of teachers, same types of ministries.  The same can be true of teams within a church or organization.  You can have IT, but lose IT.  So, what is "IT"?  Don't know.

Theories about IT

  • God makes it happen.  It is from him, by Him, and for his glory.
  • We can't created, produce it, or manufacture it.
  • It is rare that one person will bring, but it's common for the wrong person to kill it.
  • It can't be taught, but it can be caught.
  • It's not a system or a model but can be found in all types of churches.
  • Whereever you see it, you see transformed lives.
  • It attracts critics.  People misunderstand it.
  • "It happens!"  But often, it doesn't.
  • If you have it, it doesn't meant you're going to keep it.
  • If you don't have it, it doesn't mean you can't find it.

Early church had IT.  (Acts 2:42-47)

  • Try to kill them, it grows.
  • Dude falls out window, you just raise him up from the dead.
  • People sell their stuff so other people can eat.

4 Qualities when IT is present

  • Organizations that have IT are laser focused.  Jim Collins:  "What can you be the very best at?To reach people that no one is reaching, you have to do things that no one is doing.  But in order to do things that no one is doing, you can't do what everyone else is doing. [axiom "Planned abandonment." Don't do more.  Do better.  How do we stop entertaining people from other people's ministries? does only five things well: weekend services, small groups, children's ministry, student ministries, missions.
  • Organizations that have IT see opportunities where others see obstacles.  They see potential when others see problems.  They believe they have everything that they need to do everything that God wants you to do.  You have it.  (Again... a Collinsism modified).  God often guides by what he doesn't provide. [axiomMeaning, he's trying to show you something through your greatest limitations.  He may have another route you need to go.
  • Organzations that have IT are willing to fail.  Failure is a necessity. [axiom]  Failure is often the first step into seeing God.  Example:  Peter failed, was restored, got it, and then preached and 3000 were saved. 
  • Organizations that have It are lead by people who have it.  You have to have it for your ministry to get it.  You can have it, and then ministry can sometimes kill it.  When you have it in your heart, you tend to get it around you because it tends to draw people.  If you have it inside, you get it outside.  AFterwhile you begin to think that if you get the outside you'll get what's inside - you misunderstand it and lose the very things that are necessary to have IT.  "I had become a full time pastor and a part time follower of Christ.  I lost IT."  Your ministry will not have it if you don't have it.  If it's become more about your ministry than about His Kingdom, you've lost it."

4 Questions:

  1. What are you doing that you need to stop doing?
  2. What problems or obstacles might actually be potential and opportunity?
  3. What has God called you to do that you're afraid to attempt?
  4. If you don't have IT, what are you going to do to get IT?

Closing Prayer (Franciscan Prayer)

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain in to joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

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