Tag Archives: Great by Choice

A Great by Choice Glossary

Last Friday, I presented my synopsis of the new Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen book, Great by Choice:  Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck – Why Some Thrive Despite Them All.  It is a great addition to the Jim Collins canon.

Jim Collins is a vocabulary creator.  In his earlier books, he introduced hedgehog circles, and Level 5 Leadership, among other terms.  In this new nook, he continues his tradition.  So here is a Great by Choice glossary, to help you when you run across these terms.

• A Great by Choice Glossary:

1)    10Xers – companies that beat their industry, over the long haul, by at least 10 times
2)    20 Mile March – a set, pre-decided “advance,” on schedule (Learned from the daily goal of Roald Admundsen’s team, which trekked a set, pre-determined distance every day, on their way to the South Pole)
3)    SMaCSpecific; Methodical; and Consistent
4)    Bullets and Cannonballs – Bullets – an empirical test aimed at learning what works, it meets three criteria:  low cost; low risk; low distraction.  Cannonballs:  big cost, big risk, big focus/energy/distraction.
Two kinds:  Callibrated (based on empirical validation)
vs. Uncallibrated (you don’t want many of these!)
5)    The Death Line – the end, with no coming back.  (you don’t want this – “duh!”)
6)    Luck – there’s good luck, there’s bad luck.  And it is in the response to bad luck that the tale is told…  — ROL – Return on Luck. 


From Viktor Frankl to Jim Collins – We are Free to Choose

Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
Viktor Frankl

We cannot predict the future.  But we can create it.
Jim Collins, Great by Choice


It’s been a lot of years since I was introduced to Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.  It was one of those “assigned readings” in my graduate school days.   It was worth reading.  Viktor Frankl recounted his own experiences in a series of concentration camps ( he was moved from camp to  camp, including a stint in Auschwitz), a true, dire, “hopeless” prison existence. In the midst of that experience, he developed his “logotherapy.”  The quote above is at the heart of his philosophy – you cannot control much of anything, but you can, you always can, choose your attitude in the midst of whatever circumstances you face.

Jim Collins kept reminding me of Viktor Frankl in his new book Great by Choice.  Here’s a key quote, the last paragraph of the book:

We are not imprisoned by our circumstances.  We are not imprisoned by the luck we get of the inherent unfairness of life.  We are not imprisoned by crushing setbacks, self-inflicted mistakes or our past success.  We are not imprisoned by the times in which we live, by the number of hours in a day or even the number of hours we’re granted in our very short lives.  In the end, we can control only a tiny sliver of what happens to us.  But even so, we are free to choose, free to become great by choice.  

In this book, Jim Collins gives a clear call:  that leaders can, and must, choose to be great – “great by choice.”  It’s a pretty good reminder.  Because, at this moment, circumstances – economic unrest and uncertainty — appear to be the daily struggle all companies face.  But, regardless of the difficulty, to choose to be great, and then to work toward implementing that decision, is what sets apart the 10x companies from the rest.  (10x – his designation for the “great companies,” the companies that beat the industry index by 10.

From Frankl to Collins.  There must be something to this.


(I will present my synopsis of this new Collins book, Great by Choice, this Friday at the First Friday Book Synopsis).