What Makes a “Best Company to Work For”?

It’s the time of year for strategic planning and for me that means settling down with some good business books to get the creative juices flowing. At the recommendation of my friend and personal branding collaborator, Maria Peagler of SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com, I just read the book Great by Choice by Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen. Having already read Good to Great and Built to Last by Collins, I knew that I would be in for some very informative and well-researched business advice.


The  book has the subhead “Uncertainty, Chaos and Luck: Why Some Thrive Despite Them All.” Collins studies “10x” companies that have “sustained spectacular results for 15+years.” Criteria included a turbulent environment and and a company that started out young or small.

The good:

The one tip that I found most useful in the book that I plan to put into practice immediately is the “SMaC” principle. It stands for: Specific, Methodical and Consistent. In uncertain times Collins writes, we need to have the discipline to adhere to the “SMaC” recipe by “facilitating dramatic change while maintaining extraordinary consistency.” Throughout the book Collins weaves true tales of  life-threatening mountaineer expeditions that succeeded or failed on whether their leaders used the principles he outlines in the book. Discipline, paranoia, ambition and creativity are woven into the tales that bring Collins’ well-annotated statistics to life. The author says if we’re on a sunny, Sunday stroll with a veteran mountaineer we never see him kicking into the emergency gear for which he has been highly trained. I think the same is true of airline flight attendants. They are prepared to save our lives but most of us (thankfully) only see them in their role of pouring soft drinks and greeting us as we board the plane.

The bad:

The only thing I could find fault with is the slight repetition for those familiar with Collins’ other books. The 10x companies are similar to the “Great” companies we were introduced to in his other books however Collins tries to draw a distinction. The 10x companies are younger and leaner at the start then those profiled in his other books.


I recommend Great by Choice as a good read for other business people who are in the strategic planning mode and who want to learn some proven business methods that work. To me the most fascinating part is Collins conclusion that “the new normal” is actually not that at all. He says that we live in a world of constant uncertainty and the relative calmness of the end of the 20th century was strictly an abberation. As my own late father, an entrepreneur himself, used to say, “the only constant in life is change.” Here’s to a good read and to your company’s positive changes in the new year!


  • Kristen says:

    Sounds interesting. I’ll have to read it!

  • Sue Painter says:

    I love reading good book reviews, thanks for introducing me to this one. I’ll put it on the “check out” list.

  • Bill Painter says:

    It sounds like a dichotomy that you need to be consistant in a constant state of change. It does work however. In the real estaqte crisis over the past couple of years I have a friend who has a system of making x number of calls a day and has followed it. He has continued to get listings and sell houses, where many of his peers just cry about the “new market”.

    • maryellen says:

      Bill, it is funny you mention that. I have a REALTOR friend who did the same thing and she has been highly successful. You have to work the plan!

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