From Good to Great (Jim Collins)

The Importance of Selecting a Great Team: Insights from Jim Collins’s “Good to Great”

Jim Collins’s book, “Good to Great,” delves into what differentiates merely good companies from truly great ones. Among the many insights Collins offers, one stands out as particularly crucial: the critical importance of selecting a great team.

First Who, Then What

One of the central tenets of “Good to Great” is encapsulated in the principle of “First Who, Then What.” Collins argues that the path to greatness begins with getting the right people on the bus before deciding on the strategic direction. This concept might seem counterintuitive in the fast-paced world of business, where the drive to innovate and implement new solutions often takes precedence. However, Collins’s research reveals that having the right people on board is a prerequisite for long-term success.

The success of any endeavour heavily depends on the competence, alignment, and synergy of the team. Selecting a great team means choosing individuals who are not only skilled but also share a common vision and values, ensuring that everyone is moving in the same direction.

The Right People on the Bus

Collins uses the metaphor of getting the right people on the bus and placing them in the right seats to illustrate the importance of team composition. The right people are those who are not only highly competent but also self-motivated and aligned with the company’s mission. When you have the right people on the bus, you don’t need to micromanage them. They are self-managed, taking initiative and delivering results without the need for constant oversight.

In practical terms, this means that selecting a great team involves rigorous recruitment and a deep understanding of each individual’s strengths and potential. It’s crucial to ensure that each team member is in a role where they can thrive and contribute most effectively. This alignment creates a cohesive unit that can propel the organisation from good to great.

A Self-Managed Team

One of the most powerful outcomes of having the right people on the bus is that the team becomes largely self-managed. This doesn’t mean the absence of leadership or direction; rather, it signifies a high level of trust and autonomy. The right team members are those who take ownership of their responsibilities, collaborate effectively, and drive projects forward independently.

In such a team, the leadership role shifts from managing day-to-day operations to setting strategic vision and removing obstacles that impede the team’s progress. This allows leaders to focus on higher-level strategic initiatives while trusting the team to deliver on their commitments. A self-managed team is agile, responsive, and capable of adapting to changing circumstances, which is crucial in the ever-evolving business landscape.

The Hedgehog Concept

Collins introduces the Hedgehog Concept, which encourages companies to find the intersection of three critical dimensions: what they are deeply passionate about, what they can be the best in the world at, and what drives their economic engine. This means leading a team that not only excels in technical prowess but also aligns with the company’s core mission and can drive profitable growth.

Selecting a great team involves identifying individuals who contribute to these dimensions. It’s about finding those who are not only technically adept but also passionate about the company’s mission and capable of contributing to its competitive advantage. This alignment creates a cohesive unit that can propel the organisation from good to great.

The Flywheel Effect

The transition from good to great is not a sudden leap but a gradual process akin to turning a heavy flywheel. Each small, consistent push contributes to building momentum. Leading a team through this process involves patience, persistence, and a relentless focus on incremental improvements.

Selecting a great team is foundational to generating this momentum. Each team member’s contributions, no matter how small, add up over time. The cumulative effect of having the right people consistently pushing in the right direction can transform a company from good to great.


In conclusion, Jim Collins’s “Good to Great” offers invaluable insights for anyone focused on business strategy. Selecting a great team is not merely an HR function but a strategic imperative that underpins the company’s ability to achieve greatness. By prioritising the right people, aligning their roles with the company’s core mission, fostering a culture of discipline, and patiently building momentum, an organisation can achieve new heights of success.

Remember, the journey from good to great begins with who you have on board, not just where you’re heading. The right team will not only get you there but will drive the journey with self-motivation, innovation, and unwavering commitment.