Good to Great: Confront the Brutal Facts


In Good to Great, the first part of disciplined thought is to confront the brutal facts, but never lose faith.

Key points from this chapter:

  • Confront the brutal facts of your reality
  • When you’re honest and diligent, the right decisions become apparent
  • You need to create a culture where people can be heard and the truth comes out
  • To create a culture where truth is heard, there are four practices:
    • Lead with questions not answers
    • Engage in dialogue and debate but not coercion
    • Conduct autopsies without blame (that’s a hard one)
    • Build red flag mechanisms that make information unable to be ignored (what does this really mean?)
  • You have to respond to adversity but hitting it head-on in order to emerge from it stronger
  • This chapter also introduces the “Stockdale Paradox” which is that you confront the brutal facts of your current reality but also know that regardless of the battle you will come out a winner
  • Charisma can be a liability as well as an asset, as it might deter people from raising the brutal facts
  • Leadership starts with inviting people to confront the brutal facts and act, not with a vision
  • Spending time and energy motivating people is a waste; if you have the right people on the bus, they will self-motivate, and if you ignore the brutal facts this acts as to demotivate them… (I think we’ve all been here before)

Whether this really does lead to a great company, I think the Stockdale Paradox is great match for the Best Year Yet process. At the beginning of a year, and reflecting on the past year, you have your accomplishments and disappointments and limitations. This is “confronting the brutal facts” in action. And setting yourself up for the next year with the mind you will prevail is necessary in order to have a successful year.


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