If you don’t think Apple, Zappos, Walmart, Ford, or 3M have something to teach you, look in the mirror. If you know they do, then buy this book by Jim CollinsThe Greatest Business Decisions of All Time. In addition to weaving inspiration with real-world corporate mythology, the book offers a rich dataset of strategic decisions--from Ford’s decision to give workers a wage high enough that they could afford a Model T to 3M’s now oft-copied practice of giving engineers time to dream--to study. Here is what I learned from the book:

1. Echoes are better than cries.
When we think of the critical strategic decisions that changed the course of a company’s history, we like to think about big bets, one-time events that redirected the course of corporate history. But only three of the 18 decisions this book details were one-time decisions. Sure, you have Apple’s board deciding to return Steve Jobs to CEO, or Softsoap’s risky strategy of buying up soap pumps to block P&G from copying, but in most cases, decisions that matter look more like Zappos offering free shipping or Walmart holding 6 a.m. meetings: The decision guides not just immediate action, but future action. The culminating effect becomes huge. Implication: For each decision, think about how this choice might inspire future decisions. Read more...