Good to Great

In a recent article written by Theresa Harrington, Education Reporter for the Contra Costa Times, Ms. Harrington refers to MDUSD Superintendent Stephen Lawrence in the following statement:

When I asked Lawrence last month why so many administrators were being moved around, he said decisions were based on retirements, resignations, restructuring and “through conversations with people, looking to see if there’s a match and an opportunity.” He cited the book, “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t,” by Jim Collins, saying it talks about “having the right people on the right seat on the bus.”

Good to Great, written by Jim Collins in 2001 after five years of research, addresses a single question: Can a good company become a great company, and if so, how?  Good to Great claims that greatness is not primarily a function of circumstance; but largely a matter of conscious choice and discipline. The bus reference made by Dr. Lawrence can be found in Chapter 3 – First Who, Then What.

In an excerpt from Collin’s website he summarizes the chapter as follows:

When it comes to getting started, good-to-great leaders understand three simple truths. First, if you begin with “who,” you can more easily adapt to a fast-changing world. If people get on your bus because of where they think it’s going, you’ll be in trouble when you get 10 miles down the road and discover that you need to change direction because the world has changed. But if people board the bus principally because of all the other great people on the bus, you’ll be much faster and smarter in responding to changing conditions. Second, if you have the right people on your bus, you don’t need to worry about motivating them. The right people are self-motivated: Nothing beats being part of a team that is expected to produce great results. And third, if you have the wrong people on the bus, nothing else matters. You may be headed in the right direction, but you still won’t achieve greatness. Great vision with mediocre people still produces mediocre results.

Wiki Summaries adds:

With the right people in the right positions, Collins contends that many of the management problems that plague companies and sap valuable resources will automatically dissipate. Collins also underscores the importance of maintaining rigorousness in all personnel decisions. He recommends moving potentially failing employees and managers to new positions, but not hesitating to remove personnel who are not actively contributing. He also recommends that hiring should be delayed until an absolutely suitable candidate has been identified.

Jim Collin’s website
Wiki Summaries

This is a highly regarded book in the business world. What do you think? Is this the beginning of the Superintendent’s plan?


One thought on “Good to Great

  1. Schools are not a business and cannot be run under a management model. Lawrence needs to read Diane Ravitch’s book, The Death and Life of the American School System before he starts trying to run our district as a business!

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