Radish Blog

Jim Collins on Turning Good to Great — Diary of Radish, a tech start-up

WHAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR in turning good to great? To answer this question, Jim Collins, known as one of the best business researchers/educators in the world, conducted decades of research studying some of the best companies in the world.

He then expanded his research to the social sector to determine what turns a good organization, such as an educational institution, civic group, symphony, or even Girl Scouts of America, into a great organization when financial rewards are not the primary measure of success. Next, he extended this exploration to ask what turns a good life into a great life.

ANSWER. The people. The ability to pick and associate with the right people makes the difference between goodness and greatness. At a recent and rare presentation at Boulder Rotary, Collins explained, “Life is people. It’s not about achievements and awards. It’s about who you spend your life with. Building greatness is not a matter of circumstance or chance. It is a function of conscious choices and disciplines.”

This is consistent with my research published in Pursuit of Passionate Purpose in which I conclude, “it is vital to build relationships with and bring along on life’s journey the proper people and support network and lessen the impact of improper ones.”

VALUES. Find the proper people that align with your values. Collins continues, “The sources of endurance are not strategy and technology. It is values. Values endure. The great companies, organizations, and people have a sense of purpose which is more important than making money. They have a set of underlying values with which they will NOT compromise.”

Values are your core beliefs, ideology, ethics, morals, attitude, and ideals which define who you are and what is meaningful to you. The intersection of your values and your gifts describes what you are passionate about. People in the “Pursuit of Passionate Purpose” study strongly agree that having meaning is important to them and that purpose brings meaning to their lives. Therefore, my conclusion is, “The pursuit of passionate purpose, not merely its attainment, brings meaning and satisfaction to life.”

How do you pass on the values on which the company was formed? Collins answers, “You can’t give someone core values. You need to hire people with them.” That is to say, you need to work hard to get the proper people with the right values on your bus.

Radish Systems Case Study

Radish is built on a strong set of core values. One of the first things we did in starting Radish 1.0 in 1990 and then again in restarting Radish 2.0 in 2009 was to clarify the values of the founders and the company. In line with the endurance of values, here are Radish’s values:

  INTEGRITY, honest, and ethical behavior
  STAKEHOLDER DELIGHT that would produce financial rewards and satisfaction for all involved
  INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS that would contribute to the world in a way that would outlive us
  ENVIRONMENT that would allow an empowered team of people to contribute and be rewarded to the fullest

People are the most important aspect of building Radish into a great entrepreneurial venture. Five of the six members of our current senior leadership team worked with us earlier. We know they have the right values and passion. Hiring “A” players with compatible core values is one of my top priorities as CEO.

CONCLUSION. As a leader of your business and your life, ask yourself, “What do I value? What are the values upon which my business is formed? How can I attract and retain the proper people aligned with these core values?”

Theresa Szczurek

Theresa Szczurek oversees all business operations. As co-founder, Chief Operating Officer, and Chief Planning Officer of RCS, Szczurek was key in transforming the start-up into a thriving firm that sold for over $40 million.

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