Good to Great by Jim Collins

Jim Collins’ book Good to Great is a study of what distinguishes successful companies from the rest.

For this study, a great company had to beat the market and comparison companies for a duration of 15 years. They didn’t start with a hypothesis, but they took the 11 qualifying companies and determined what those companies had in common that separated them from comparison companies.

Here’s what they found:

  1. Level 5 Leadership. The senior leader is not a big personality, but has a blend of self-effacing personal humility and unbending professional will.
  2. First Who… Then What. A team with the right people is your most important asset. So your first priority is getting the right people on the bus AND the wrong people off the bus.
  3. Confront the Brutal Facts (Yet Never Lose Faith). It’s the Stockdale Paradox. You must simultaneously have unwavering faith that you will overcome the difficulties in the end AND the discipline to face the most brutal facts of your current situation with total honesty.
  4. The Hedgehog Concept (Simplicity within the Three Circles). Focus with tenacity on one thing—at the intersection of your expertise, your passion, and your profitability.
  5. A Culture of Discipline. Self-starting people don’t need to be disciplined to have discipline; they are disciplined. A Culture of Discipline + Ethic of Entrepreneurship = Great Performance.
  6. Technology Accelerators. Good to great companies aren’t built around new technologies; rather they carefully select and apply new technologies to leverage what they are already doing.
  7. The Flywheel and the Doom Loop. Rather than sudden stops and starts or innovations and programs, great companies were focused on building momentum by relentlessly pushing a flywheel in the same direction for an extended time.

As a staff, we read Good to Great not to build a great company, but to think about ministry at Redeemer. We’re always reading a leadership book to discuss monthly, and we just finished this one.

Reading about the humility and determination of Level 5 leaders, it felt like they were describing our Senior Pastor, Elbert McGowan, and Mike Campbell before him.

Looking around the table, the Lord’s generosity in getting the right people on the bus is obvious: our staff have a passion for the Gospel, a love for people, and an unwavering commitment to God’s word. They’re bursting at the seams with creativity, wisdom, humor, vulnerability, and attention to detail. It’s a remarkable team.

Beyond the staff, the bus is full of the right people: amazing Elders and Deacons, ministry leaders, Sunday School teachers, and volunteers—all that serve faithfully out of a love for Jesus.

I’ve found Redeemer to be a place where people are passionate about Jesus and motivated to move into the spheres entrusted to them. There’s a culture of discipline uniquely combined with freedom and innovation. We strive to be honest with difficult things and at the same time have great faith that the Lord will build his church.

Redeemer’s Hedgehog

The Hedgehog principle is about simplicity. When a fox hunts a hedgehog, it will use all its cunning and craftiness to kill the hedgehog. The hedgehog only has one defense: to pull into a ball, spikes out. But the Hedgehog’s simplicity triumphs at every turn.

To find your Hedgehog concept, Collins encourages exploration of the intersection of three questions: (1) What are you deeply passionate about? (2) What drives your economic engine? And (3) What can you be the best in the world at?

Here’s how that plays out at Redeemer:

  1. Passion: Jesus’ mission to rescue, save, connect, change, and transform people for his glory.
  2. Driver: We’re here to serve our people.
  3. Expertise: Serving a multiethnic congregation to reach a multiethnic neighborhood.

Our vision statement articulates our Hedgehog understanding:

Redeemer Church, PCA, is a multi-ethnic community of Christians committed to glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ and proclaiming the Good News of His Kingdom both in word and deed to the Broadmoor / Broadmeadow neighborhoods, the city of Jackson, and the world.

May we keep pushing on that flywheel for years to come.