Growth Insights for CEOs

Jim Collins' Great By Choice: SMaC Develops Your "Brand"

Posted by Pete Hayes

What we can learn from Jim Collins' Great By Choice

I’m a huge Jim Collins fan (and look forward to seeing him at the Global Leadership Summit Aug 9/10). But I will admit that I haven’t read all of his books cover to cover. You know, you pull a few cool ideas then lose interest once the nuggets have been revealed. That was until Jim Collins' “Great By Choice." I couldn’t put this one down and I couldn’t get enough. Perhaps it’s having the perspective from his prior findings, models and perspectives to build upon. But I found “Great By Choice” to be Jim’s best and most practical piece yet. In summary, I found that this wonderful book shares simple, actionable truths applicable to businesses of all sizes.

Use SMaC to Develop Your Brand - Practices Can Last DecadesJim Collins Books

Like many, I use a Kindle and enjoy highlighting and making notes as I go. Then I go back and review the “greatest hits” to be sure I’m activating the concepts I had hoped to retain. Having just done that, I was again taken by the SMaC (Specific, Methodical and Consistent) model and approach with this summary: 

  • “A solid SMaC recipe is the operating code for turning strategic concepts into reality, a set of practices more enduring than mere tactics. Tactics change from situation to situation, whereas SMaC practices can last for decades and apply across a wide range of circumstances.” - Jim Collins' “Great By Choice” Chapter 6

Struck by the phrase “practices can last for decades,” because it’s perhaps an unspoken truth that the 10X (winning) companies build their reputations (their brands) by executing consistently, over time. Collins’ references to company recipes and even the U.S. Constitution Articles that don’t change from year to year, but may evolve with highly considered amendments, is a reminder of knowing what you stand for. In our firm, we find this so important we’ve made it a centerpiece of our approach with clients, specifically our Purpose-Driven Marketing. With a business’ purpose in place – a purpose that reflects their knowledge of the marketplace – one can make plans, decisions and take actions with a consistency that other companies can’t.

Few Changes, Great Impact

In Chief Outsiders’ practice of helping mid-sized companies implement their growth plans, we regularly encounter family-owned businesses that exhibit an amazing consistency in the execution of their purpose. Some of these companies have enjoyed decades if not generations of success. They know why they exist. They’re methodical and consistent in their decision-making and execution. Then, why do they need Chief Outsiders? That’s a great question. Perhaps even long-standing businesses can experience market shifts, or simply get restless in wanting to enter new markets or launch major new initiatives. In one word, they desire growth. And they want to continue their legacy of excellence. We’re honored to get the call. But let’s move on.

Every business makes decisions that affect their brand – who they are, what they stand for, how they’re known, etc. A well-noticed blog by Lois Geller covered this beautifully on  But what is often missed in considering the trials and often resulting successes of major brands, is that the same opportunities for market-leading awareness and preference exist within tighter geographic or niche markets where smaller companies thrive.

Consistency Builds "Brand"

Jim Collins’ “Great By Choice” and SMaC reinforces the power of well thought-out strategy that leads to consistent, systematic, and methodical execution. In so doing, businesses of all sizes and industries build their stature – call it a brand – which their customers and their market ecosystems recognize, respect and count on to deliver.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this book and how SMaC is helping your business. And comment on my next favorite read: Patrick Lencioni’s “The Advantage” – coming up next!

marketing for the savvy ceo b2b and b2c


Topics: Business Leadership and Strategy, Corporate Strategy, CEO Choices, Marketing Strategy, Jim Collins, Purpose-Driven Marketing

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