Collins’ “Great by Choice” for Business Practitioner

The book “Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck – Why Some Thrive

Despite Them, all” by Jim Collins can be evaluated as one of the best works on how to be successful in business despite the ever-changing and unstable situation of the global economy and its numerous difficulties faced by the enterprises’ management. Within the book, the audience will find a coherent and cohesive representation of varied methods which were successfully applied by the companies working in different areas in order to make their business as efficient as possible. In the following paper, this book will be addressed in terms of practical value for any particular business practitioner. Generally, the book can be described as a great piece on coping with a variety of difficulties presented to the companies by the unstable economic situation providing sustainable data and an involving layout.

First of all, speaking about the central pillars of the book under consideration, it should be stated that they are all connected to a number of methods and strategies applied by the management of successful companies in order to make their business thrive even under the hardships of the ever-changing economic situation. One of the central pillars of the book is its sustainable data and reliable research. Jim Collins, his co-author Morten Hansen and a team of more than twenty other researchers and specialists in the area of business and economy spent nine years in finding out why certain companies are flourishing even under the conditions of economic crisis and other undesirable situations. They furnished these researches by particular examples of the companies which are seen as leaders at their markets performing so even in unpredictable and fast-moving times. According to Grams (2011, par. 12),

Their research led to a set of companies that they refer to as the “10x” cases because, during the study period, these companies outperformed the rest of their industry by 10 times or more. After looking at over 20,000 companies, the final organizations that made the cut were Amgen, Biomet, Intel, Microsoft, Progressive Insurance, Southwest Airlines, and Stryker.

“10x” are central in the book’s argument as they are applied as a basis for the conclusions made by the author, and simultaneously they appear to be living examples proving that thriving under the ever-changing and challenging economic conditions is possible. Evaluating the results achieved by these companies, Collins presents the concepts applied by their management in order to perform so well. Grams (2011, par.27) comments on these concepts:

Many of these concepts come with an awesome allegorical story to illustrate them. That’s the great thing about a Jim Collins book: you can’t always tell whether you are reading a business book or an adventure book. In this case, Collins (who is also an avid rock climber himself) shares tales from an ill-fated Everest expedition, the race for the South Pole, and a near-death climbing experience in Alaska interspersed with specific stories from the businesses he is profiling.

Among these concepts is SMaC or being Specific, Methodological, and Consistent. The SMaC concept can be mentioned as one of the other pillars of the book’s findings. Below, it will be addressed in more detail.

With regards to the SMaC concept, it is important to ascertain that the author associates it with the formula of success. This formula is a complex of reliable operating principles and strategies which can be applied under the most complicated and uncertain situations. The author argues that leaders are to implement the SMaC concept as often as it is possibly reasonable. In addition, he explains how important it is for the leader to constantly improve one’s SMaC concept reflecting on the ever-changing market conditions (Goleman 2000). Upgrading the SMaC concepts is set as one of the principal tasks for the company’s CEO by the author.

Among the other pillars of this incredible book, the concept of ROL can be seen. Collins explains ROL as Return on Luck strategy. This amazing strategy seems to be one of the most important principles not only in the business environment but in people’s daily life as well. This concept can be explained as taking full advantage of the profitable or Lucky situations and minimizing the effects of the unprofitable situations or the situation with Bad luck. With regards to this amazing principle, common sayings by people who did not manage to succeed can be mentioned. These people blame their poor lot in life along with their bad luck in their every misery and failure. They also state that those who succeed have a better situation, they are favorites of Fortuna, and failures are afraid of them. However, Collins in this book ruins this myth by the ROL concept. In accordance with him, all the situations faced by any particular business can be turned into much more positive in case they are wisely approached by both the company’s leader and its personnel (Collins & Hansen 2011).

Reflecting on the findings of the book, it appears that any business enterprise can be successful in case its management applies relevant business strategies, and such great result does not depend on the economical conditions and undesirable market conditions. More than this, hardships can be often turned into advantages in case they are approached wisely. Collins supports his findings by reliable economical researches of a nine-year period and illustrates them with the examples of 10xs. It seems that such illustrations, full of inspiring stories and teaching important lessons, are among the most valuable characteristics of this book for a business practitioner. The book is full of practical concepts which are critical for any enterprise’s leader. Two of the most outstanding of these concepts are SMaC and ROL. As far as the global economic situation can be evaluated during the current period of time, these two concepts must be the two main ‘business commandments’ for those who make important decisions in their company.

As a final point, the book “Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck – Why Some Thrive Despite Them All” by Jim Collins is a valuable guide for business leaders under any economic situation. The author along with his team put a lot of effort into conducting vast economic research lasting for nine years. The results of this research appeared to be not only mind-blowing but very practical for any company including those of a few men and those with thousands of employees. Within the pages of the book, the business audience will find a coherent and cohesive argument easy for comprehension and implementation helping to see how to cope with all the variety of problematic issues of operating a company.


Collins, J., & Hansen, M. (2011). Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck – Why Some Thrive Despite Them All. New York: HarperBusiness.

Goleman, D. (2000). Leadership that Gets Results. Harvard Business Review, 1, 78-90.

Grams, C. (2011). A review of the new Jim Collins book “Great By Choice”. Web.

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