Return on Luck

– a quick personal note: I’m away attending to some urgent family business, so I’ve suspended the 2013 GsD Fall Term for a week. In it’s place, I’m reposting one of the most popular series on 27gen – a look at Jim Collins’ book Great by Choice with application to ChurchWorld. It continues to get views almost every day, so I hope you enjoy the entire series

Today marks the final post this week on Great by Choice, the recently released book by Jim Collins and his colleague Morten Hansen. In much the same way as Collins’ previous works (particularly Good to Great), Great by Choice is written to a business leader audience using primarily business examples – but it is dead-center must reading for leaders in ChurchWorld.

Here are Collins’ and Hansen’s summary thoughts on the final principle in the book, Return on Luck.



A luck event is defined as one that meets three tests:

(1) some significant aspect of the event occurs largely or entirely independent of the actions of the key actors in the enterprise;

(2) the event has a potentially significant consequence (good or bad); and

(3) the event has some element of unpredictability.

Luck happens, a lot, both good luck and bad luck. Every company in the research experienced significant luck events in the era of analysis. Yet the 10X cases were not generally luckier than the comparison cases.

  • The 10X companies did not generally get more good luck than the comparisons.
  • The 10X companies did not generally get less bad luck from the comparison.
  • The 10X companies did not get their good luck earlier than the comparisons.
  • The 10X companies cannot be explained by a single giant-luck spike.

There are four possible ROL scenarios

  • Great return on good luck
  • Poor return on good luck
  • Great return on bad luck
  • Poor return on bad luck.

10Xers credit good luck as a contributor to their success, despite the undeniable fact that others also experienced good luck, but the never blame bad luck for setbacks or failures.

“Who Luck” – the luck of finding the right mentor, partner, teammate, leader, friend – is one of the most important types of luck. The best way to find a strong current of good luck is to swim with great people, and to build deep and enduring relationships with people for whom you’d risk your life and who’d risk their lives for you.

How’s your luck today?

Great by Choice


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