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The Timeless “Physics” of Good to Great

The Timeless “Physics” of Good to Great

The Timeless “Physics” of Good to Great I had just finished presenting my research to a set of Internet executives gathered at a conference, when a hand shot up. “Will your findings continue to apply in the new economy? Don’t we need to throw out all the old ideas and start from scratch?” It’s a legitimate question, as we do live in a time of dramatic change, and it comes up so often that I’d like to dispense with it right up front, before heading into the meat of the book. Yes, the world is changing, and will continue to do so. But that does not mean we should stop the search for timeless principles. Think of it this way: While the practices of engineering continually evolve and change, the laws of physics remain relatively fixed. I great organizations—that will remain true and relevant no matter how the world changes around us. Yes, the specific application will change (the engineering), but certain immutable laws of organized human performance (the physics) will endure. The truth is, there’s nothing new about being in a new economy. Those who faced the invention of electricity, the telephone, the automobile, the radio, or the transistor—did they feel it was any less of a new economy than we feel today? And in each rendition of the new economy, the best leaders have adhered to certain basic principles, with rigor and discipline. Some people will point out that the scale and pace of change is greater today than anytime in the past.

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