Just finished the new Jim Collins book, Great By Choice, and it was a home run. Collins is obviously a legendary business author so the bar was set high, and in my mind he cleared it easily. In typical fashion, the book zeros in on a handful of companies that had great success. The difference this time was that these companies thrived in an extreme or uncertain environment. He also does a masterful job of comparing them to some similar peer companies to try and demonstrate where the causality was, which is always tough.
Many great takeaways but I'll give you the two that really resonated with me:
Fire Bullets, and then Cannonballs - The premise here is that the best companies don't take more or less gambles than their competition, they are just more disciplined about the approach. They fire bullets at a variety of targets, and then they unleash their cannonballs on those that worked. Think of Apple building one Apple Store in a controlled environment, getting it completely wrong, doing it again, and then launching it globally.
Return on Luck - I've always had a bit of pessimism about some business books when they write about companies that had great success without talking about luck. Maybe they were just in the right place at the right time. It doesn't take skill to win the lottery, just ask the Pet Rock guy. Collins took this issue head on and actually researched how many luck events that companies had. He statistically made the case that the number of good luck and bad luck events were about the same in peer companies, but what really was different, was what the great companies did with the luck events - or what he called return on luck. Seems obvious in hindsight, but every once in a while a big opportunity lands in your lap, and how you capitalize on it can make all the difference.
A blog post certainly can't do this book justice. If you're involved in business management, this book is a must read.