Jim Collins’ Turning the Flywheel: Book Summary

What is a Flywheel?

The story begins in the fall of 2001. Collins coached Jeff Bezos and a group of Amazon staff on the flywheel effect, which shows that company growth has an exponentially increasing momentum.

In this case, Collins saw Bezos implement the concept. Amazon staff created their own Flywheels and tried to find out what they needed to do to optimize each element of the Amazon flywheel.

Collin’s model was selected as the archetypal Flywheel to represent Amazon’s powerful business engine. The monograph illustrates it this way:

(c) 2019 Jim Collins in Turning the Flywheel; A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great.

A lot of companies fail because they have no idea why they became successful in the first place. It’s crucial for you to understand your unique Flywheel’s sequence and components if you want to remain successful.

The Principle of the Flywheel

You turn a giant flywheel (a series of good decisions exceptionally executed very well), but even though it’s moving, it starts so slow you can barely notice it. But you don’t stop; you keep pushing. Eventually, the wheel turns and starts multiplying: 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and so on. They’re compounding, building on each other. In the Flywheel, you have accumulative momentum.

The Doom Loop

But the Flywheel can be the reverse too!

Companies not finding success respond to poor outcomes by making rash new decisions, discoveries, tactics, and so on – chronically inconsistent. This method has no traction, leads to disappointing results, and necessitates new decisions, advancements, etc.

The comparison businesses lost traction in a downward momentum loop while Good to Great firms gained it. The Doom Loop-plagued companies kept plummeting into a dismal scenario of defeat.

Important things about the Flywheel:  

· Try to figure out what works. Make a list of your most significant achievements. Your Flywheel is established in your effective and repeatable processes.

· The phrase that describes how to craft your Flywheel. “Then we can’t help but….” For example, “If we do A well, then we can’t help but do B, and if we do B well, then we can’t help but do C.

· The flywheels in this engine are entirely unique, yet they all have a beautiful momentum logic.

Final words from Jim Collins

“I love the Flywheel. One reason is that it’s a beautiful combination of intellectual research and rigor. On the other hand, the Flywheel is about energy, momentum, extension, renewal, and that’s infectious.” – Jim Collins.

Who is Jim Collins?

Jim Collins is the author of Built to Last, Good to Great, and co-author of The Level 5 Leader. He has also written articles for Fortune, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, and Strategy+Business magazines. A United States Military Academy graduate at West Point, Collins spent five years as a commander in the United States Army. After his service he joined the corporate world, where he spent over two decades in leadership positions at three Fortune 500 companies. In 2001, he retired from his career to devote himself to full-time writing and teaching.

Jim’s books have sold over 10 million copies and have been translated into 35 languages. His work has been cited in over 50,000 articles, speeches, and books.

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