Good to Great

by

Jim Collins

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Good to Great can help.
The Flywheel Symbol Icon

Collins uses the idea of an enormous, heavy metal wheel—the flywheel—to explain how good-to-great companies bring together all the different concepts discussed in the book and eventually make their transitions into greatness. The essence of the flywheel metaphor is that greatness comes from consistent, small pushes over time, all of which move the company in the same direction. The flywheel turns slowly at first, but its momentum builds steadily until it reaches the point when it is powered forward through the force of its own weight in motion. There is no one big push that makes the flywheel go fast; similarly, there is no one moment or dramatic transition during which companies go from good to great. Rather, Collins argues, the flywheel shows that consistent, repeated effort in which everyone is working toward the same simple goal is the key to becoming great.

The Flywheel Quotes in Good to Great

The Good to Great quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Flywheel. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Possibility of Transformation Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harper Collins edition of Good to Great published in 2011.
Chapter 8  Quotes

But the good-to-great executives simply could not pinpoint a single key event or moment in time that exemplified the transition. Frequently, they chafed against the whole idea of allocating points and prioritizing factors. In every good-to-great company, at least one of the interviewees gave an unprompted admonishment, saying something along the lines of, “Look, you can’t dissect this thing into a series of nice little boxes and factors, or identify the moment of ‘Aha!’ or the ‘one big thing.’ It was a whole bunch of interlocking pieces that built one upon another.”

Related Characters: Jim Collins (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Flywheel
Page Number: 168
Explanation and Analysis:

Although it may have looked like a single-stroke breakthrough to those peering in from the outside, it was anything but that to the people experiencing the transformation from within. Rather, it was a quiet, deliberate process of figuring out what needed to be done to create the best future results and then simply taking those steps, one after the other, turn by turn of the flywheel. After pushing on that flywheel in a consistent direction over an extended period of time, they’d inevitably hit a point of breakthrough.

Related Characters: Jim Collins (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Flywheel
Page Number: 169
Explanation and Analysis:

Consider Kroger. How do you get a company of over 50,000 people—cashiers, baggers, shelf stockers, produce washers, and so forth—to embrace a radical new strategy that will eventually change virtually every aspect of how the company builds and runs grocery stores? The answer is that you don’t. Not in one big event or program, anyway.

Related Characters: Jim Collins (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Flywheel
Page Number: 177
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Good to Great LitChart as a printable PDF.
Good to Great PDF