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In his book Good to Great, and in a subsequent monograph, Jim Collins talks about “turning the flywheel.” His research on companies that went from good to great revealed that there was “no single defining action, no grand program, no single killer innovation, no solitary lucky break, no miracle moment.”
What did mark the great companies? They kept pushing at things as if they were pushing a giant, heavy flywheel. Collins writes:
Effort - Flywheel - Effort - Flywheel - Turn
Pushing with great effort, you get the flywheel to inch forward. You keep pushing, and with persistent effort, you get the flywheel to complete one entire turn. You don’t stop. You keep pushing. The flywheel moves a bit faster. Two turns... then four... then eight... the flywheel builds momentum... 16... 32... moving faster... a thousand... ten thousand... a hundred thousand. Then at some point—breakthrough! The flywheel flies forward with almost unstoppable momentum.
Applying this concept to Amazon, Jeff Bezos and his team determined that their flywheel, that which powered their business, was low prices. As Brad Stone outlined in The Everything Store, the lower the prices, the more people visited their site. With added customers, you add sales as well as third-party sellers. This enabled Amazon to get more out of fixed costs like the fulfillment centers, not to mention the servers needed to run the website. All this in turn led to even lower prices. “Feed any part of this flywheel, they reasoned, and it should accelerate the loop.” So the principle is clear: push the flywheel at the points that power your business, and keep pushing.
Over and over and over.
So what is the flywheel for the church? What “business” are we in? Where do we push? It has...
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