Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit

I’ve read quite a few leadership books and been to several conferences. This week I thoroughly enjoyed the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit. If you’re serious about growing as a leader, I recommend you check into attending in 2011. It’s available via satellite to hundreds of locations. In fact, over 100,000 people attended across the globe. Make sure to check out the video links at the bottom of the post.

I’ll post some more of my thoughts later as I have time to take it all in. For now, enjoy some of these resources I’ve dug up.

Speakers – Day 1 (speakers list at willowcreek.com)

Bill Hybels – Taking people from Here to There, practical leadership

Jim Collins -Never Ever Give Up

Christine CaineA21 – abolishing injustice and human trafficking, more

Tony Dungy -The Mentor Leader

Adam Hamilton -When Leaders Fall, practical advice on protecting yourself

Dr. Peter Zhao Xiao – Christianity’s impact on Economics and what’s happening in China

Andy Stanley – Leveraging Tension in your environment/workplace

Speakers – Day 2 (speakers list at willowcreek.com)

Jeff Manion – speaking on The Land Between

Terri Kelly – CEO W.L. Gore and Associates – Amazing company culture and structure

Daniel Pink -on What Motivates Us

Blake Mycoskie -Tom’s Shoes, One for One (Simply Amazing)

Jack Welch interviewed by Bill Hybels – Incredible interview

T.D. Jakes – On Combustible Passion


Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit – YouTube Channel

Interview Clip of Jack Welch (Video)

Interview Clip with Terri Kelly, W.L. Gore (Video)

Jim Collins – How the Mighty Fall – Finale

I just realized I hadn’t completed the series on How the Mighty Fall. To expedite the process, I’ll try to cover the rest in one last post.

To recap, this book is now making its way through our company’s leadership ranks. It started with one of our Executive VPs sending our CEO an article on Jim’s book. Our CEO, Dave Ramsey, then read it in staff meeting. After that, our CEO picked up the book. The EVP, Bill Hampton, picked it up for his leadership team, and we went through it together.

Click here for earlier posts on How the Mighty Fall

Stage 4 – Grasping for Salvation
In stage 4, the company is in a precarious situation. They’ve tried multiple solutions to no avail. Collins starts out the chapter referring to Lew Platt of HP and how he led the company to quintuple profits over a 7 year period from 1992 to 1998. Then in 1999, many viewed Platt as a failure for missing the internet wave. HP hit a wall and perhaps Platt should have left some growth on the table for Wall Street. In mid 1999, Carly Fiorna became the new CEO. Collins then goes on to contrast Carly with Louis Gerstner who was brought in to revive IBM.

Jim moves on to comments on companies searching for “The Silver Bullet” to fix their problems. It doesn’t exist. As companies enter stage 4, the end is not inevitable, but as they continue searching for the silver bullets, strings of bad decisions mount further eroding the likelihood of a recovery. Research showed that 90% of CEOs that led companys from good to great came from inside the company. While over two-thirds of companies that hired a CEO failed to generate the same similar results.

Markers for Stage 4

  • A series of silver bullets
  • Panic and haste
  • Radical change and “revolution” with fanfare
  • Hype precedes results
  • Initial upswing followed by disappointments
  • Confusion and cynicism
  • Chronic restructurin and erosion of financial strength

Stage 5 – Capitulation to Irrelevance and Death

I love the quote, “You can be profitable and bankrupt”.

Collins says his team found 2 basic versions of Stage 5. (1) the leaders in power begin to believe capitulation is a better option than continuing to fight for the life of the business, (2) the leaders in power continue the fight, but they run out of options as their position and finances decline eventually causing the business to die or become a non-factor in the industry never returning to past grandeur.

In the end, Jim leaves us with a spark of hope by providing an inspiring story about Anne Mulcahy as she became the CEO of Xerox. As and insider, Anne was able to believe in Xerox and with some extremely hard work revive it from the throes of death.

The End

Jim Collins – How the Mighty Fall – Day 4

Our leadership team will be wrapping up the book early next week, but this week, I’ll cover Stage 3 – Denial of Risk and Peril.

Jim leads out by describing  Motorola’s Iridium satellite phone project that cost the company several billion dollars. Jim’s point being that in any stage of the project prior to launch, Motorola could have cancelled saving the company billions. Although it would still come with a cost, it would only have been a fraction what came later.

In another case, Texas Instruments made the investment in voice recognition chips. Over a 20 year period, TI continued to invest and grow their technology knowledge until they were able to make a “big bet” on the technology.

Jim draws the comparison of these 2 companies as opposing gambles. Motorola made their bet born of “Hubris of Success” while TI did not. Emphasizing the principle of not taking risk below the waterline.

Jim then goes on to discuss the NASA Challenger catastrophe. I learned quite a bit about the challenger issue and how even the best organizations with the “best of the best” can make bad decisions with poor leadership.

Jims comparison of Leadership-Team Dynamics: On the way up versus on the way down. I don’t to steal all of Jim’s thunder, so I’ll only share a few.

  • (down) People shield those in power from grim facts, fearful of penalty and criticism for shining light on the harsh realities vs. (up) People bring forth unpleasant facts – “come here, look, man, this is ugly” – to be discussed: leaders never criticize those who bring forth harsh realities.
  • (down) People assert a strong opinions without providing data, evidence or a solid argument vs. (up) people bring data, evidence, logic, and solid arguments to the discussion.
  • (down) team members seek as much credit as possible for themselves yet do not enjoy the confidence and admiration of their peers vs. (up) each team member credits other people for success yet enjoys the confidence and admiration of his or her peers.

Jim shares a few more good comparisons.

Markers for Stage 3

  • Amplify the positive, discount the negative.
  • Big bets and bold goals without empirical validation
  • Incurring huge downside risk based on ambiguous data
  • Erosion of healthy team dynamics
  • Externalizing blame
  • Obsessive reorganizations
  • Imperious Detachement

Jim Collins, How the Mighty Fall




Jim Collins – How the Mighty Fall – Day 3

Loving Jim’s book, How the Mighty Fall.

The interesting point of this book for me has been realizing that as a whole, our company is doing very well in the areas that Jim outlines. However, as you compartmentalize some of our business segments, you can see elements of How the Mighty Fall creeping in. In Stage 2, Jim explains how a company’s success can create the undisciplined pursuit of more. Through several examples, Jim’s research explains details as company’s struggle to maintain or create accelerated growth. As they strive to acheive this growth, companies can loose focus on the things that made them successful or overstretch and take unnecessary risks with their resources.

I agree strongly with “Packard’s Law” as mentioned by Jim. No company can consistenly grow revenues faster than it’s ability to get enough of the right people to implement that growth and still become a great company. The creates the counter wisdom of a great company is more likely to die from an ingestion of too much opportunity than starvation from too little. It is imperative that you fill key seats on the bus with the right people.

As companies start to fill key roles with the wrong people, a typical response is to add more rules and regulations to control quality. However, this accelerates the downward spiral of the company as the most talented people expect and require more freedom to produce results. A bloated bureacracy drives away the most talented people further compounded the problem. You no longer have to hire quality people to continue growth. You also have to replace talent to maintain past results.

Markers for Stage 2 – Undisciplined Pursuit of More

  • Unsustainable Quest for Growth, Confusing Big with Great
  • Undisciplined Discontinuous Leap
  • Declining Proportion of Right People in Key Seats
  • Easy Cash Erodes Cost Disciplined
  • Bureacracy Subverts Discipline
  • Problematic Succession of Power
  • Personal Interests Placed Above Organizational Interests

Enjoying Jim’s Material

Jim Collins

How the Mighty Fall – Jim Collins

Jim Collins, How the Mighty Fall – Day 2

My apologies. I’ve been reading the book, but I haven’t been posting. I’ve got some catching up to do.

We covered Stage 1, Hubris Born of Success, 3 weeks ago. It was a great discussion about how past success can make a company arrogant to the point they get careless. “We can do no wrong.” This in turn can cause the company to neglect the very things that made them successful in the first place. Usually, a company finds success by stringing together a series of good decisions and initiatives. Seldom does success come in one fell swoop. It is that ongoing series of good decisions that  companies begin to stray from that is brought on by Hubris of Success. Jim first cited Circuit City as an example of how Hubris began with their CEO in an interview back in late 1998. 10 years later, Circuit City folded.

Once a company has built their successful flywheel, that flywheel must be maintained. Extending the company’s business lines can be done, but care must be taken to maintain the primary flywheel. In Circuit City’s case, they ran unopposed for years and soon found their market share eroding to the upstart Best Buy. Circuit City failed to adjust accordingly.

Jim listed several other compelling examples of the Hubris of Success including A&P with Wal-Mart as the comparison company.

Jim’s Markers for Stage 1, Hubris of Success

  • Success Entritlement, Arrogance
  • Neglect of a Primary Flywheel
  • “What” Replaces “Why”
  • Decline in Learning Orientation
  • Discounting the Role of Luck

Jim Collins’ How the Mighty Fall

Jim Collins

Jim Collins – How the Mighty Fall, Day 1

I recently started reading How the Mighty Fall by Jim Collins. Dave Ramsey, our CEO, was given an article by my boss, Bill Hampton, that summarized How the Mighty Fall. Dave, being the driven and forward thinking guy that he is, went out and picked up the book. Recently, I found out that he’s going through the book with some trusted friends. Several years ago, Dave purchase another of Jim’s books, Good to Great, and covered it with his team leaders. It was a great book, and greatly added to my development as a professional.

As I began reading How the Mighty Fall before going to bed, I’ve found the book to be well written and very thought provoking. As such, I’ve decided to blog about my journey through the book in hopes to aid other leaders trying to make the most of their opportunities and carry their companies through these tough economic times.

If you’ve read one of Jim Collins’ other books, Built to Last and Good to Great, you know that Jim’s approach is to conduct tons of thorough research that supports his conclusions and writing. How the Mighty Fall follows this same approach using the data from his other books but with a twist. Instead of using the data to support the decisions and approaches that turn good companies into great companies, Jim flips the data and shows us how companies descended from good stable or perhaps great companies to irrelevancy or death. Circuit City is one of those examples.

One of the early statements from How the Mighty Fall goes something like this: While Good to Great shows that great companies usually follow the same track to success, companies that descended to irrelevancy have followed any number of routes. 1 general path to success. Numerous paths to decline or failure.

Unlike Good to Great where Jim walks you through the data and takes you on a journey of success to validate his level 5 leadership formula for a companies success, How the Mighty Fall introduces the 5 Stages of Decline on page 25. While How the Mighty Fall is a short read, the anchor statement of the book is delivered very early in the read. Since I am only on page 33, I expect the rest of Jim’s material to validate the 5 stages while letting us look into companies that have taken the fall from success.

The 5 Stages of Decline

  1. Hubris Born of Success
  2. Undisciplined Pursuite of More
  3. Denial of Risk and Peril
  4. Grasping for Salvation
  5. Capitulation to Irrelevance and Death

If you just can’t wait for my review, check out Amazon.com reviews.