Great by Choice by Jim Collins

The 10Xers:
10Xer is a company that beat the average index by 10X.
Typified by:

  • Fanatic discipline: consistency of action- consistency with values, long term goals, performance standards, method & over time.
  • Productive paranoia: the channeling of fear into extensive preparation and calm, clear-headed action. Turn hyper-vigilance into preparation and productive action.
    • 1. Prepare for unexpected events before they happen.
    • 2. Bound risk. Stay above the deathline.
    • 3. Zoom out, then zoom in: sense a change in conditions, assess the timeframe, assess with rigour; focus on supreme execution of plans.
  • Empirical creativity: using empirical evidence as the basis for decisive actions and therefore creativity.

The 20 mile march:
Amundsen's successful race to the south pole was successful because each day they got up and marched 20 miles. The next day they got up and marched 20 miles. Consistency of action and achievable goals.
Elements of a good 20 mile march:

  • Uses performance markers that delineate a lower bound of acceptable achievement.
  • Self-imposed constraints- the upper bounds for how far you'll go. Don't expand too far.
  • Tailored to the enterprise- there is no all-purpose 20 mile march.
  • Lies largely in your control to achieve.
  • Goldilocks timeframe: not too long; not too short
  • Designed an self-imposed by the organisation
  • Achieved with great consistency.

Fire bullets then cannonballs.
A bullet is an empirical test aimed at learning what works and meets three criteria:

  • Low cost
  • Low risk
  • Low distraction

There are two types of cannonballs: calibrated and uncalibrated. Calibrated has confirmation based on actual experience that a big bet will likely prove successful. An uncalibrated cannonball can lead to calamity. Failure to fire cannonballs, once calibrated, leads to mediocre performance.

Specific, Methodical and Consistent. A set of durable operating practices that create a replicable and consistent success formula. Clear and concrete, enabling the entire enterprise to unift and orgnise its efforts. Stick to the SMaC during turbulent times.


Return on luck. Everyone gets luck, but what separates good organisations from great ones is their return on luck: how you make the most of the luck you're given.

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