By Brian Chernett

How does technology play its part in moving from Good to Great in Business? Jim Collins and his team, as set out in Good to Great (Random House Business Books 2001), asked themselves whether dominance in a technology could lead a company to make the transition from Good to Great. The experience of their research says that technology is not a major factor in making the transition possible but that technology can improve and accelerate the transition from Good to Great once it is underway. Other factors lead that process and we have already talked about most of them.

Collins and his team found that technology-led companies were still governed by the three circles of the Hedgehog Principle. My own observations confirm this. Many technology-led companies have the passion that is needed to succeed, fewer have the ability to be the best in the world at what they do but only a very few have the economic engine that is needed to make the transition. Too many technology companies are built on the mistaken belief that having a solution is enough. Unless enough people are asking the question to which your company has the solution and it is obvious to them where to get that solution at a price they are prepared to pay, there will not be a big enough market to make it a great solution and a great company.

So the advice with regards to technology is to put the basics in place first –

• find Level 5 leadership

• have the right people on the bus

• confront the brutal facts

• work out their hedgehog principle – all three circles

• develop the discipline to move forward towards take off

You can then find and implement the technology that supports these processes.

For the good to great businesses, technology was a late arrival in the process of transition, but when it came, it often made a profound difference to the speed of transition and to the eventual market position of the business. Collins comments that “you could have taken the exact same leading-edge technologies pioneered at good to great companies and handed them to their direct comparisons for free, and the comparisons would have failed to produce anywhere near the same results”.

Technology is important in the right place but according to Collins’ findings, that place is as an accelerator of momentum and not as a creator of it.

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