jim collins
jim collins articles


(Listed Alphabetically)

Aligning Action and Values

The Forum (originally published in the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management's Leader to Leader, Premier Issue Summer 1996)
Executives spend too much time wordsmithing vision statements, mission statements, values statements, purpose statements, and aspiration statements—and nowhere near enough time trying to align their organizations with the values and visions already in place.

And the Walls Came Tumbling Down

Leading Beyond the Walls, a book edited and produced by the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management and published by Jossey-Bass
The most productive relationships are partnerships rooted in a freedom of choice vested in both parties to participate only in that which is mutually beneficial and uplifting.

Best Beats First

Of all the new economy's supposed "rules," the notion that nothing is as important as being first to reach scale may be the most widely accepted. It's also wrong.

Bigger, Better, Faster

Fast Company
If current growth rates hold up, the company that Sam Walton built will become the world's first trillion-dollar business within a decade. Far-fetched? Perhaps. But if you understand how Wal-Mart keeps growing, you'll know what it takes to keep your company moving in the right direction.

Building Companies to Last

Inc. Special Issue—The State of Small Business
In a world of constant change, the fundamentals are more important than ever.

Building Your Company's Vision (not available online)

Harvard Business Review (with Jerry I. Porras)
This HBR cover story explains how companies that enjoy enduring success have core values and a core purpose that remain fixed, while their business strategies and practices endlessly adapt to a changing world. For the full text of this article, please contact Harvard Business Review.

Change Is Good—But First, Know What Should Never Change

Reengineering and other prevailing management fads that urge dramatic change and fundamental transformation on all fronts are not only wrong, they are dangerous.

Fast Company's Greatest Hits: Ten Years of the Most Innovative Ideas in Business

Edited by Mark N. Vamos and David Lidsky (Foreword to the book published by Penguin Group)
We need to examine life, work, and the connection between the two. We live short and die long, in the words of Dr. Walter M. Bortz, and the urgency of getting on with what we are meant to do with this one short life increases with each passing day.

Fear Not

"Change or die," say many of the experts. "The reason to get better is that bad things will happen to you if you don't." Is that kind of fear a good motivator? Not for long.

Few Hot Internet Companies Are Built to Last

USA Today
Only a small fraction of today's Internet companies will become powerful pistons in the economic engine of society.

Forget Strategy, Build Mechanisms Instead

This article is part of Inc.'s cover story, "What Comes Next?" Jim Collins says that to put your core purpose to work, you need mechanisms—the practices that bring what you stand for to life and stimulate change.

Good to Great

Fast Company
Start with 1,435 good companies. Examine their performance over 40 years. Find the 11 companies that became great. Now, here's how you can do it, too. Lessons on eggs, flywheels, hedgehogs, buses, and other essentials of business that can help you transform your company.

Hitting the Wall: Realizing that Vertical Limits Aren't

Edited by Michael Useem, Jerry Useem and Paul Asel (Chapter 1 and Epilogue from the book Upward Bound: Nine Original Accounts of How Business Leaders Reached Their Summits.)
Jim has been a rock climber for more than 35 years. Here he shares some of his lessons for life and business that he learned in the vertical classroom, such as: climb to fallure, not failure; separate probability from consequence; be an expert beginner.

Why do some companies fall from greatness? By understanding the Five Stages of Decline and avoiding their pitfalls, leaders can better sustain—or regain—great results.

It's not What You Make, it's What You Stand For

This article is part of Inc.'s cover story, "What Comes Next?" Jim Collins says that concentrating on products—or services, if that's what you sell—is a trap.


by Peter F. Drucker (Foreword to the book by Peter F. Drucker)
There are two ways to change the world: the pen (the use of ideas) and the sword (the use of power). Peter Drucker chose the pen and thereby rewired the brains of thousands who carry the sword—and contributed as much to the triumph of the free world as any other individual.

The Most Creative Product Ever

The next wave of enduring great companies will be built not by technical or product visionaries, but by social visionaries—those who see their company and how it operates as their ultimate creation, and who invent entirely new ways of organizing human effort and creativity.

Pulling the Plug

Want to make room for all those new projects? Stop one thing you're doing right now.

The Secret of Enduring Greatness

That most great institutions fall—and we cannot deny this fact—does not
mean you have to be one of them.

Shareflipping Cheats Shareholders of Real Value

USA Today
Responsibility to shareholders is rapidly becoming an irrelevant concept in our country. Increasingly, corporate ownership lies not in the hands of shareholders but in the hands of an entirely different species: shareflippers.

The Silicon Valley Paradigm and Why It Won

The Red Herring—Technology and Investing Monthly and Stanford Business Magazine
Jim Collins compares two Silicon Valley business models.

Sometimes a Great Notion

A surprising number of companies we consider great today did not start out with a compelling idea for a product or service.

The Timeless Physics of Great Companies

Businessweek (published as "Perspectives: Don't Rewrite the Rules of the Road")
The Internet is a big deal, but electricity was bigger. Building a great company requires adherence to principles predating both.

Turning Goals into Results: The Power of Catalytic Mechanisms (not available online)

Harvard Business Review
Catalytic mechanisms are the most promising devices executives can use toachieve their Big Hairy Audacious Goals. For the full text of this article, please contact Harvard Business Review.