How can PRODUCTIVE PARANOIA serve as a virtue?


Jim Collins in his book Great by Choice goes ahead and explains the success recipe of 10X companies and leaders.

Productive Paranoia is one such quality that helps these companies and leaders “course correct ” and hence achieve phenomenal success.

10Xers remain productively paranoid in good times, recognizing that it’s what you do before the storm comes that matters most.  Since it’s impossible to consistently predict specific disruptive events, they systematically build buffers and shock absorbers for dealing with unexpected events.  They put in place their extra oxygen canisters long before they’re hit with a storm.

Adopted from Jim Collins’s book Great by Choice

Thus productive paranoia is a habit that needs to be practices to remain honest en-route a success journey.

Seven characteristics of a good “20 Mile March”


A balanced year on year growth strategy which is born out of fanatic discipline of 10X companies has been termed as the “20 Mile March” in the book titled “Great by Choice” by Jim Collins.

Such a strategy takes into account the fact that we need to respect “unforgiving environment” when the tide is rough for e.g. recession , slowdown etc. and hence pegs the growth figures to an achievable mark fully mindful of the fact that in the infinite game of business not always  the environment will be friendly.

Seven characteristics of a good “20 Mile March” are as follows:

  1. Clear performance markers
  2. Self imposed constraints esp. to settle for lower growth rates when the tide is smooth
  3. Appropriate to the specific enterprise
  4. Largely within the company’s control to achieve
  5. A proper time frame
  6. Imposed by company on itself
  7. Achieved with high consistency

How do “high performing” companies overcome uncertainty?


“The 20 mile march” or the disciplined and consistent year on year growth plans of high performing companies , impose order amidst disorder , consistency amidst uncertain environment.

This sense of “fanatic discipline” manifested in the form of the well thought out growth plans sacrifice the enticement of aiming for greater growth when the tide is smooth.

Better known competitors of these 10X companies have fallen by the wayside because of  a lack of discipline.These are companies who have aimed for higher and higher growth when the tide has been smooth.As a result of such unplanned growth attempts they have failed to survive during difficult times for e.g. slowdown , recessions etc.

These are times when the sense of discipline of these 10X companies have enabled them not only to survive but be profitable as well.

Think of 9/11 attacks in 2001 , outclassing all competitors , South West Airlines still managed to be profitable in 2002

Adopted from Jim Collin’s book titled “Great By Choice”

“Ambition” for self vs a “Just cause”


All high performing leaders are incredibly ambitious.

What makes their ambition different and in turn helps them rally followers and supporters around them is that their ambition is for a “just cause” not for self.

When followers are shown a futuristic “just cause” for achieving something larger than themselves it can lead to a big impact.This is when followers get viscerally involved to realize something in order to achieve fulfillment in their lives.

Thus when ambition is directly towards the betterment of a company , a just cause it has far reaching impact.

Adopted from Jim Collins’s “Great By Choice” and Simon Sinek’s “The Infinite Game”

How to succeed in an “unforgiving environment”?


Look at the behavior patterns of the following 10X high performing leaders:

  1. Herb Kelleher of South West Airlines – Predicting 11 of the last 3 recessions
  2. Andy Grove of Intel –  “Always looking for the black cloud in the silver lining”
  3. Bill Gates – Issuing nightmare memos in Microsoft

By embracing the myriad of possible dangers , they put themselves in a superior position to overcome danger due to an “unforgiving environment”.

These are leaders who succeeded in uncertain , unforgiving environment through deliberate , methodical and systematic practice.

Adopted from Jim Collins’s book titled “Great By Choice”



Fanatic discipline is one of the 4 facets manifested by 10X high performing leaders as mentioned by Jim Collins in his book “Great by Choice”

Discipline in essence means consistency in action , with respect to:

1) Consistency with values

2) Consistency with long term goals

3) Consistency with perfomance standards

4) Consistency of method

5) Consistency over time

Adopted from Jim Collin’s book “Great By Choice”

What does 10X leadership entail?


10X leadership a term coined by Jim Collins in his book titled “Great By Choice” is a term used to understand how some leaders are able to give their organizations 10 times more growth than others , given the same environmental conditions.

The four defining qualities of such leaders are:

1)Fanatic Discipline – These keeps the companies on track

2) Empirical Creativity – This keeps the culture vibrant

3) Productive Paranoia – These keep the companies alive and kicking

4) Ambition – This gives the much needed sense of intrinsic motivation

Watch out this space for more..