Jim Collins Preaches Conscious Choice & Discipline at ISPA Conference

Jim CollinsJim Collins, author of the best-selling business bible Good to Great, was an inspirational keynote at ISPA's annual conference November 12 15 at the Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee, Florida.

Collins encouraged the audience to 'build pockets of greatness.' 'Big does not equal great, and great does not equal big,' said Collins. 'Greatness is a function of conscious choice and discipline. You can transcend your past. Where you started is not where you will end up.'

Here are some of other gems of wisdom from Collins:

1. Greatness is a cumulative process, not a single move or decision. There is no such thing as an overnight success (It took Starbucks 13 years to reach 55 stores).

2. Great companies always begin with the question of ?ho? First who, then what. Get the right people in the right seats and then drive the bus. The key to scaling service is having the right people. It is cultural, not structural. Motivating people through compensation will not work.

3. Turbulent times amplify strengths and weaknesses. The best companies always assume things will take a bad turn. Never confuse unwavering faith with the need to confront the most brutal facts that we face day to day. The Stockdale principle: The ability to confront the facts without losing faith that you will prevail in the end.

4. Great companies are led by Level 5 Executives. Collins defined the qualities of the ideal leader's humility combined with force of will. Level 5 executives rise above effective leaders (Level 4) and competent managers (Level 3) by studying like college students and deflecting attention away from themselves tp promote the greater good.

5. Can you learn to be a Level 5 Executive? The best way to be a Level 5 Executive is to have ambition for a cause and will do whatever it takes to make good on that ambition. 'When you are involved so passionately, it pulls the level 5 right out of you,' says Collins.

6. Follow the Hedgehog principle: Hedgehogs focus on one big thing. They clean away the clutter and get down to the essence. Have a 'stop doing' list as well as a 'to do' list. Be as focused on what you choose not to do as what you choose to add to your daily routine.