jim collins on thriving in 2009

Posted on April 14, 2009


Inc. interviewed business yoda Jim Collins on how to survive and thrive in the so-called “new economy.”  It is a very interesting read, especially the sections on entrepreneurship and the social sector.  Collins argues that there has been a fundamental shift in the way the business elite view entrepreneurs: from sleazy mavericks to heroic warriors that can build sustainable companies.  According to Collins, entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of the future of business because they see beyond the merits of a “great organization” to creating movements with huge ambitions to change large segments of societies.  One quote that I thought was interesting concerning the social sector:

We tend to think that the business sector will teach the social sector, that the social sector is the less sophisticated cousin. In that, we are wrong . . . .  Obviously, they have fundamentally different economic mechanisms. But leaders of social-sector organizations have to get things done without the same levers of power available to leaders in the business sector. Business owners and chief executives have had a tremendous amount of concentrated power. They don’t really have to lead. If I put a gun to your head, I can get you to do a lot of things. It means I have power. It doesn’t mean I’ve led. In business, we largely have power, not leadership. In a social-sector organization, power is diffuse. So, getting things done requires the ability to truly lead. If you want to create a movement, you can’t order it or demand it or will it into existence by exerting concentrated power. It just won’t work.

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