2011 Ranking: #4
Jim Collins, a former Stanford Graduate School of Business faculty member, founded a management laboratory in his hometown of Boulder, Colorado in 1995. He is best known for his books on what makes companies long-lived and great.
Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (1994), written with Stanford colleague Jerry Porras, analyzed the factors that help companies endure, and became a best-seller. Collins’ follow-up book, Good to Great (2001), emerged from the simple question: "Can a good company become a great company?" The answer is yes, Collins concluded, with the right leadership. He identifies two levels of leadership – level 5 (the great) and level 4 (the good).
In How the Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In (2009), Collins examined the process of failure in companies, and whether firms in trouble are able to arrest and reverse their decline. The book identifies five sequential stages of decline which if understood can help managers avoid decline.
His latest book, Great by Choice (written with Morten Hansen), published in October 2011, seeks to understand why some companies thrive in unstable environments while others falter.