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A Culture of Discipline — Building Toward Great – Part 1 – What is Discipline

Thomas E. Ambler, Senior Consultant, CSSP, Inc.

Strategic Planning Expert

Strategic Planning Expert

In his outstanding book about great organizations, Good To Great, Jim Collins concludes, “Sustained great results depend upon building a culture full of self-disciplined people who take disciplined action, fanatically consistent with the three circles.” (The three circles for an organization are (1) what it can be best in the world at, (2) what its people are already deeply passionate about and (3) what drives its economic engine. Focusing on the intersection of these three circles he calls the Hedgehog Concept.) He further states, “A culture of discipline is not just about action. It is about getting disciplined peoplewho engage in disciplined thought andwho then take disciplined action.”

First, let’s define what is meant by “discipline.”

  • The dictionary defines “discipline” as exhibiting “training, especially of the mind or character,” “a trained condition of order and obedience” and “the training effect of experience, misfortune etc.”
  • Discipline comes primarily from within and it is “grooved”.
  • Typically finish things they start.
  • Capable of facing and dealing with brutal facts, even about themselves.
  • Willing to adhere to the organization’s systems for getting work done.
  • Having a passion for doing certain types of work or advancing certain purposes.
  • Possessing unique skill sets.

We want our organization to be “full of self-disciplined people.” Most important is the CEO, who exhibits not only self-discipline, but also models and practices the other attributes of Collin’s “Level 5 Executive” (see Chapter 2 in Collin’s book). We also need to recruit and/or raise a host of other disciplined adults.  We will address this in a future article.

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© Copyright 2015 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI — Reprint permission granted with full attribution.

Tom Ambler is a Senior Consultant with Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. He can be reached by email at ambler@cssp.com