Book Review

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don't

Jim Collins
Harper Business

Good business book for those interested in growing or just improving their business.

Compounding pharmacy is in a state of transition, from the old days of compounding on the “back counter” to the present high-tech world of compounding in the laboratory. With accreditation looming and legislation changing, our profession is changing drastically. If we don’t move with the times, we are going to be left in the dust. This book underscores how these changes can affect your bottom line. Collins writes about “how you take a good organization and turn it into one that produces sustained great results, using whatever definition of results best applies to your organization.”

Although all of the companies they discuss in the book are either “big box” stores or chains, the principles can apply to any size business. My favorite piece of advice is about change. The author speaks about vision and strategy, “First Who… Then What.” He uses a bus to explain this: “First get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats—and then figure out where to drive it.” Similarly, “People are not your most important asset. The right people are.” In Collins’ research, companies that failed did so by first doing what, then deciding who, instead of picking the who first and then deciding on the what.

Some of the principles discussed in this book might be hard to apply in a smallbusiness setting. Many times the owner of the compounding pharmacy is the boss, manager, pharmacist, technician, bookkeeper, and janitor. Collins defines the ideal leader of an organization as a “Level 5 Leader,” a person who “rarely appears at the top of an institution” and “demonstrates a compelling modesty, shunning public adulation and . . . never boastful.” The author’s research shows that the most successful companies have “Level 5 Leaders” at the top. But these are all huge corporations with CEO’s and boards of directors.

I see many successful compounding pharmacies with owners who don’t fit Collins’ prescription. Maybe small businesses are different, or maybe that is why they are still small businesses. Food for thought. You decide!


Reviewed By:  Dana Reed-Kane, PharmD, FIACP, FACA, FCP, NFPPhC
In:  Nov/Dec 2004