Collins maps out good-to-great path
September 13, 2004
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
Greatness. It's something
we talk about in sports and politics. Muhammad Ali and Abraham
Lincoln, but what about greatness in business? Is there a path
At 9 a.m.
today, Chicago's tech community gets a lesson in greatness when
Good to Great author Jim Collins speaks at the Sheraton Chicago
Hotel and Towers. His audience includes more than 600 of the nation's
top information technology executives, including many from Chicago.
While most of us will be sipping our first cup of coffee, these
CIOs will be listening to a former Stanford University professor
who knows the keys to stepping ahead of the pack.
For 16 years,
Collins has studied companies that dramatically outperform their
competitors and the marketplace. Whether you're a tech type or
not, Collins' fact-based findings are insightful.
One of his
gleanings: Technology matters ... and it doesn't. "We did
not find a single case of a company that ignited a shift from
good to great with technology," Collins said. "It just
tell the CIOs to choose their colleagues carefully. Great organizations
emerge from great teams of people, not vice versa.
matter if you're mayor, governor, CEO or superintendent of a school
district," he said, "one of your most important tasks
is to ask, 'What are the key seats on my bus?' 'Do I have the
right people on the bus and the right people in the right seats?'
create a climate where really interesting, creative people want
to be, they make interesting and creative things happen."
He's not simply
talking about Silicon Valley; he's talking about Chicago companies
like Walgreen and Abbott, two of the companies mentioned in his
reaches breakthrough when it understands what it can be the best
in the world at, what it's passionate about and what drives its
economic engine," Collins said. "Walgreen is a textbook
Good to Great case."
to Collins, Walgreen was passionate about drug stores. They understood
they could be the best at establishing convenient drug stores.
They learned their economic mantra was "profit per customer
visit." Once Walgreen had that focus, management built a
tremendous technology infrastructure that enabled them to operate
a national network like a corner drug store.
dollar invested in Walgreen from their breakthrough point beat
Intel," Collins said. "It was the fourth best performing
stock in the universe of stocks from 1972 to 2002."
should make Walgreen CEO Dave Bernauer smile.
a former pharmacist turned chief information officer. He now runs
the company. Most of the CIOs in the room and most people in Chicago
wouldn't know Bernauer. He's not particularly interested in personal
to Collins, that's one more trait of the leaders of great companies.
wins info-tech award
smiling, Chicago Housing Authority CIO Barbara Banks is beaming.
CHA announces today that it's the recipient of an Information
Integrity award provided by the Information Integrity Coalition
and Naperville-based Unitech Systems.
honors CHA for its housing relocation system, a critical support
system as CHA proceeds with its 10-year renovation program.
is the only city in the country where we guarantee that families
can come back to public housing when it is rebuilt," said
Rayne Martin, CHA's director of relocation and supportive services.
The system helps Martin and CHA property managers assure that
resident rights are protected.
hosts a cast of Internet political pundits at Eprairie's "Tech
Elect," event Wednesday morning at Loyola University. Scott
Heiferman of Meetup.com; David Wilhelm, Democrat strategist and
venture capitalist; Jake Parrillo, Republican Internet strategist;
Dan Proft, of Illinois Leader, and Sandford Morganstein of Populex
are on tap. The moderator is David Weinstein, president of the
Chicagoland Entrepreneurship Center and whip of the Illinois delegation
at the Democratic National Convention.
the national supply chain technology show, comes to Navy Pier
today through Wednesday to showcase the latest RFID technology.
Michael Krauss is a Chicago-based tech writer and consultant.