Thoughts on Jim Collins’ Good to Great
I recently listened to an audio book by Jim Collins titled Good to Great. I don’t know about you, but I never can find enough time to actually sit down and finish a book. So I always have one downloaded on my iPhone so I can listen when I’m in the car for a long drive.
Mr. Collins and his research team chronicle the rise of eleven U.S. companies that were able to make the difficult transition from good companies to great ones during the last three decades. Rigorous criteria were used to identify the eleven noteworthy companies. Several of the eleven we would all easily recognize. They include Abbott Laboratories, Circuit City, Gillette, Kroger, Phillip Morris, Walgreens, and Wells Fargo. Rounding out the eleven are slightly lesser known companies like Fannie Mae, Kimberly Clark, Nucor, and Pitney Bowes.
Good to Great by Jim Collins is one of the most influential business books of recent years, but even if you’re not interested in business, there are a number of “great” take-away messages from this book that are applicable to all aspects of our lives. The essence of Mr. Collin’s work is that these eleven companies shared similar characteristics that contributed to them becoming great. One of these characteristics was having a Level Five leader. These are leaders who are humble, but driven to do what is best for the company. Level Fives may possess an unwavering discipline and passion to become the best.
As I was listening, I couldn’t help but think about how these characteristics shared by the Good to Great companies relate to the field of medicine. I can’t help but believe our health care system would be so much better if we had more Level Five physicians in this country (i.e., doctors who are driven to do what is best for their patients). I have had the good fortune to train under several physicians who I would consider to be Level Fives. Two in particular come to mind: Dr. Charles Krause and Dr. Shan Baker, both pioneers and giants in the field of facial plastic surgery, who taught me a great deal about always putting my patients first above all else. Dr. Krause would always give his patients his home telephone number. At the time, this was unheard of in the academic world. A call in the evening usually meant one of his resident doctors screwed up, but he was always gracious and compassionate in addressing the problem and alleviating the patient’s concerns. Dr. Baker, who is still practicing at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, taught me the importance of detail in surgery. He wasn’t satisfied with his work until he was convinced he had done his best for the patient.
All too often these days, I hear stories about physicians providing services outside their level of expertise. All too often, I see patients with unsatisfactory results from procedures performed by inadequately trained physicians. How does this happen? For the most part, cosmetic services are a cash business, and as medical reimbursement shrinks, some physicians will resort to anything to maintain their revenue. Because these are outpatient procedures, there is very little oversight unless an unsatisfied patient files a complaint with the medical board. Unfortunately, cosmetic services like BOTOX® and Juvéderm® injections, as well as some plastic surgery procedures, have become trivialized by the media and untrained providers. Unsuspecting patients see a cosmetic brochure in the waiting room and think the doctor is properly trained to provide the service. Nothing could be further from the truth.
When you’re expecting the best possible outcome for plastic surgery or non-surgical cosmetic procedures, I recommend searching for a Level Five plastic surgeon, aesthetician, or licensed cosmetic therapist. These professionals always strive to do their best and have the discipline to continually hone and perfect their talents. Most importantly, these professionals have the unbridled desire to always do what is best for their patients.
The concept of Level Five can be extrapolated to all aspects of our lives. We should all strive to do our best, whether it is at work or at home, or as a parent, spouse, or friend. There are many more worthwhile lessons in Good to Great that make it a worthwhile read. Interestingly enough, I have heard that the book is required reading for all of Jim Tressel’s incoming freshmen football players. And who can argue with Jim Tressel’s success?