Jim Collins’ book Good to Great is widely regarded and used by businesses and non-profits around the world, and with excellent reason. I regard it as one of the most important books ever written.
However, understanding the principles of Good to Great is not enough — and I think Jim Collins would agree. This is because Good to Great is about taking a good organization and making it great. It’s about principles of excellence. As such, it does not focus on or go into detail on the basics of how to run an organization at all. It assumes those things. Its focus is the next level — namely, once you know those things, how do you take a good organization and make it great?
Let me say this again: Good to Great assumes you know the basics of how to run an organization. Hence, it’s not enough simply to read it or even implement it. You also need to actually understand those basics.
To get those basics, here are the three chief books I would recommend. Interestingly, the first two are about entrepreneurship, or starting an organization. They’re on the list because knowing how to start an organization familiarizes you with the basics of how to run an organization at all (even though the start-up phase is very different from the ongoing phases). The third, on the other hand, is about the central concepts you need to know for understanding and running an organization.
Here they are: