Good to Great and the Social Sectors: Why Business Thinking is Not the Answer

By     Sep 17, 2011

A short read—an essay really—this piece adapts the principles of Good to Great to the nonprofit sector. Collins addresses five issues: defining greatness, the exercise of leadership within a diffuse power structure, getting the right people “on the bus” (many wish he had added a section on getting the wrong people “off the bus”), rethinking economics in a sector without a profit motive and building momentum by building the brand. Collins emphasizes discipline and sustainability.

Collins’ little red book has been widely and usefully read by executive directors of museums and managing directors of performing arts organizations. It has added value to their professional development as leaders. However, they have paid little attention to the book’s very important subtitle, Why Business Thinking Is Not the Answer, and, therefore, the book’s high potential for stimulating a shift in a board’s default mantra. Collins, highly respected in the for-profit world, offers an at-a-glance summary of the crucial differences between business and the social sectors.

Available online »