Why Great Isn't Good Enough

Mountain climber
Sometimes, great isn't good enough. (iStock photo )

Most leaders have been exposed to Jim Collins' book Good to Great. The book stirred plenty of discussion within organizations about the journey to great.

Unfortunately, the underlying assumption made by many leaders is that they have a "good" organization. If good to great is a progression, what precedes good? Do we earn the label "good," just because we show up?

Sears had an industry leading price-line strategy of "Good, Better, Best."

Good really wasn't too good. But the label "good" meant it was the lowest priced offering in the product line. It was an effective price strategy for Sears for many years. Consumers understood the pricing at both ends of the spectrum. Sales teams were taught to up-sell by asking customers, "Wouldn't you rather have the best?"

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It seems much is missing from our attempts to quantify performance.

Rapid shifts in market leadership occur in large part by a company's sellout to optimal performance. Companies who seek "optimum" rather than excellence, tend to be the companies that ultimately define the height of the bar. In every industry, one company defines optimum performance. Metrics are established and "second movers" benchmark performance based on market leaders.

If good to great is our only goal, we will almost certainly define greatness by another organization's metrics.

I submit that market leaders seek optimum performance. Leaders are not satisfied with excellent marks of distinction. Leaders have an inner voice screaming, "We can do better." Continuous improvement isn't old school ... it's the mantra of a march toward optimum.

Good to great assumes good. Have we yet achieved good? 

How do we measure "good" in our company? Do we review metrics and seek continuous improvement?

Does your team understand the difference between "great" and "optimum? If your team is comfortable, I suggest your company is not achieving optimum performance.

Comfortable is a cousin of complacency.


"Brothers, I do not count myself to have attained, but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal to the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:13-14).


Dr. Steve Greene is the publisher and executive vice president of the media group at Charisma Media and executive producer of the Charisma Podcast Network. His book, Love Leads: The Spiritual Connection Between Your Relationships and Productivity, is now available.

Leaders, Dr. Greene wants to help you understand the spiritual connection between relationships and productivity. Read his new blog, here.

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