A (mini)bus as a pocket of greatness

'Get the right people on the bus and in the right seats' is a concept coined by Jim Collins in his famous book: Good to Great.

More recently, I've heard Jim break this idea down further to describe a business or team to be more like a fleet of mini-buses than one big, 72-seat coach powering down the highway.

Jim encourages all of us that are leading a 2-12 person team to consider it a mini-bus and 'make it a pocket of greatness.'

I really like this idea of leaders being responsible for a mini-bus.  It seems a whole lot more practical and achievable when applied to growing a small to medium-sized business**.

Do I have the right people on the (mini)bus?

Leading a team (aka a mini-bus) and growing it into a pocket of greatness is an exciting idea, but, once we're down the road a bit, what's the best way to check if the right people are on board?

According to Collins, it's best to check, and check often, that the right people are on the minibus.

Jim's research suggests that leaders should be reviewing and assessing the performance and alignment of team members as often as they review finances.

That is, if revenue, expenses, cash and/or profit are reviewed every month in your business, then Jim suggests that's the rhythm to check that you have the right team members too - every month!

7 questions to assess team members

Checking if team members continue to be the right people to be on the minibus you're leading is a difficult and often subjective concept.

If there's any doubt as to whether a team member is a right fit to continue on your minibus journey, Collins suggests these 7 questions are considered to get more clarity:

  1. Are we losing great people because this person, _____________, is on our team?
  2. Do we have a values, will or skills problem with this person?
  3. When something goes wrong, does this person take responsibility or attribute blame?
  4. Does this person see their work as a job, or a responsibility?
  5. Has your confidence and trust in this person increased or decreased in the last year?
  6. Is the perceived problem a (mini)bus problem or a seat problem?
  7. How would you feel if this person left?

Balancing the finite versus the infinite game

When deciding and taking action on the right people being in the right seats on your minibus, I really encourage you to check with yourself and/or with your Council (aka your most trusted advisors / personal board of directors) that you are continuing to play the long game (or the Infinite Game as Simon Sinek recently wrote).

Creating a great place to work that is built on the foundations of a strong and repeatable team culture is a long, winding journey.  The long game is the lens through which leaders make decisions in teams that become enduring great companies, businesses and purpose-driven organisations.

**If you'd like to hear a bit more about the minibus v coach idea and turning your minibus into a pocket of greatness, please have a listen to episode 62 of the Think Big Act Small podcast - it's the first part of the '3 lessons from 3 sessions with Jim Collins' series I've created.

Have a great day and week,


PS - Want to learn even more about Jim Collins' work with me?

For emerging leaders of small to medium-size teams, I think Great by Choice, another book by Jim Collins is even more valuable and practical than Good to Great.

I'm about to re-read Great by Choice in the next few weeks and then host an online Zoom call to discuss what I learned in the first event of what will be known as the Think Big, Act Small Book Club.

If you're keen to join me and sign up, please CLICK HERE.