In his 2019 hot-off-the-press mini-book, Jim Collins reminds us:
• “When you have disciplined people, you don’t need hierarchy.
• When you have disciplined thought, you don’t need bureaucracy.
• When you have disciplined action, you don’t need excessive controls.
• When you combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you create a powerful mixture that correlates with great performance.”
“Turning the Flywheel” is the latest gem from over 25 years of research from Jim Collins (just 29 pages plus eight pages of helpful summaries in the appendix). The subtitle describes this must-read content: “Why Some Companies Build Momentum and Others Don’t.”
So think about this: You’ve written five powerful business books between 1994 and 2011 (plus a lesser known book in 1992). You’ve sold over 10 million copies worldwide. The assignment in 2019: boil it all down and deliver the key thought—the Big Idea—of what leaders and managers are missing. Pick from this list:
• Level 5 Leadership
• Genius of the And
• Confront the Brutal Facts
• The Hedgehog Concept
• The Flywheel
• 20 Mile March
• Fire Bullets, Then Cannonballs
• Productive Paranoia
• Clock Building, Not Time Telling
• Preserve the Core/Stimulate Progress
• Return on Luck
• Superior Results
• Distinctive Impact
• Lasting Endurance
What one concept would you pick—that rises above everything else—and is your critical message for organizations today? Jim Collins picked the flywheel.
I’ve reviewed Collins’ books over the years and found leadership wisdom in every one—but even if you’re already a Jim Collins zealot—“Turning the Flywheel” will re-energize you. Here’s why: “No matter what your walk of life, no matter how big or small your enterprise, no matter whether it’s for-profit or nonprofit, no matter whether you’re CEO or a unit leader, the question stands, How does your flywheel turn?”
What’s a flywheel? Read Chapter 8 of “Good to Great,” “The Flywheel and the Doom Loop,” or read the nine-line summary in the appendix of “Turning the Flywheel,” including this: “…the process resembles relentlessly pushing a giant, heavy flywheel, turn upon turn, building momentum until a point of breakthrough, and beyond.” (By the way, Collins includes more than a dozen succinct summaries of his amazing body of work in just eight pages. Perfect snippets for your next 14 weekly staff meetings!)
THE BIG IDEA: “To maximize the flywheel you need to understand how your specific flywheel turns.”
Collins illustrates the uniqueness of the flywheel approach with flywheel diagrams from seven companies and nonprofits, including Ware Elementary School, located on the Fort Riley army base in Kansas. Deb Gustafson, the principal, first read the “Good to Great and the Social Sectors” monograph and was absolutely giddy! “When I got to the part about turning the flywheel, I was bouncing up and down out of my seat,” she said.
And note this: Jeff Bezos “…considered Amazon’s application of the flywheel concept ‘the secret sauce.’” But this caution: you need to understand how your organization’s specific flywheel turns—and the sequence of the components. Collins notes seven key steps for capturing your unique flywheel approach—plus this warning: don’t feature more than four to six components.
He includes flywheel diagrams from Amazon, Vanguard, Intel, Giro, Ware Elementary School, Ojai Music Festival, and the Cleveland Clinic. (Wow—Collins must have a love affair with Cleveland. In his first monograph, he highlights “Greatness at the Cleveland Orchestra”—one of my favorite examples for nonprofits.)
He packs all of this—and more—into just 29 pages, plus the appendix. But this is all you’re getting in this review, otherwise you wouldn’t need to buy the book. But I’ll close with this motivational pop quiz:
STAFF MEETING POP QUIZ:
1) If you’re a millennial and you’ve read a book by Jim Collins, please stand. I have a Starbucks card for you.
2) What books/insights by Jim Collins have made the greatest impact on our department or organization?
3) If you have a marked-up/heavily-read copy of any book by Jim Collins, please stand: I have a Starbucks card for you.
4) If you have NOT read a book by Jim Collins, but would volunteer to read and review “Turning the Flywheel” at our next staff meeting, please stand. I have a Chick-fil-A gift card for you!
5) True or False? Using the flywheel concept at Ware Elementary School, the principal and her team saw satisfactory reading levels of just 35% mushroom to 99% in just seven years. (Answer: True!)
Collins concludes on page 37 in the appendix: “Finally, I caution against ever believing that your organization has achieved ultimate greatness. Good to great is never done.”
- Paperback: 48 pages
- Publisher: CENTURY - TRADE (27 February 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1847942555
- ISBN-13: 978-1847942555
- Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 0.5 x 23.3 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 59 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,197 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)