Confront the Brutal Facts (Yet Never Lose Faith) Good to great: Chapter 4

Superstores: Kroger vs. A&P


  • Old companies headed into 1970s
  • Strongholds outside major growth areas
  • Had knowledge of how world was changing

A&P: Ignored results of The Golden Key research & looked for different solution

Kroger: Made every store in every region like the research suggested

Facts > Dreams

Good-to-great decisions were based on infusing the process with the brutal facts of reality

Pursue a vision for greatness, but refine the path to greatness with reality

The liability of a charismatic personality

  • Don't become the primary reality people worry about
  • Ex: Winston Churchill and the Statistical Office

A Climate for Truth

Leadership is about vision, but is equally about creating a climate where the truth is heard. False hopes only de-motivate people.

4 Practices

1. Lead with questions, not answers

  • Leading means having the humility to know you don't know the answers and to seek insights

2. Engage in dialogue and debate, not coercion

  • Good-to-great companies were notable for intense dialogue used to search for the best answers

3. Conduct autopsies, without blame

  • If you have the right people on the bus, you almost never need to assign blame, just to learn

4. Build "red flag" mechanisms

  • The key is not better information, but making information impossible to ignore

Unwavering Faith: The Stockdale Paradox

Admiral Jim Stockdale: "I never lost faith in the end of the story."

Strength through Truth

Reaction to competition: Scott Paper vs. Kimberly-Clark

Facing the brutal facts, good-to-great companies became stronger, more resilient, and exhilarated

The Stockdale Paradox is used by those who create greatness

Thank You


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