Good to Great: Flywheel Animation

Jim Collins and his team of researchers set out to find the top turnaround companies that made the leap from good to great. Good to Great is the result of that massive research project. The team started with 1,435 good companies and narrowed them down to 11 that became great, based on their performance over the last 40 years. Jim wrote an article for FastCompany on Good to Great back in September of 2001 which gives a really good overview of the Good to Great principles.

One of my favorite principles that Jim outlines in this book is the principle of the Flywheel. When companies make the leap from good to great, analysts and newspapers go crazy and wonder what big thing that they did to make their company great. The reality is that it took a lot of work and buildup over time.

All of the good to great companies had level 5 leadership, and had done things right. They had the right people on board, and had confronted the brutal facts. They had found the one thing that they could be the best at, that they were passionate about, and that drove their economic engine. In other words they had embraced the hedgehog concept. They had a culture of discipline, and used technology to accelerate their business, although technology wasn’t their driving force. All of these elements together were the constant pushes that they made the flywheel turn.

In his book, Jim describes the flywheel as a “massive metal disk mounted horizontally on an axle, about 30 feet in diameter, 2 feet thick, and weighing about 5,000 pounds.” He says that it’s your job to turn this wheel and get it going as fast and long as possible. Turning this flywheel is like moving a company in a way that it will begin to produce results.

Here is my Flash animation that illustrates this concept:

Click to Play the Animation


It’s been almost a year since I did any kind of drawing/animation with Flash, and this took way too long to do, but I think it makes for a good visual of the flywheel concept.

30 thoughts on “Good to Great: Flywheel Animation”

  1. Jimmy,
    Your Flywheel animation is exactly what I’ve been looking for! I’ve been scanning the internet to at least find a useable graphic to use to describe the flywheel concept but yours is perfect! I was wondering if I would be able to get a copy of it to use. Our organization is in the middle of a fundamental change to our direction and many of our leadership team have taken the principles of Good to Great and are attempting to now apply them in our new world. Please advise if and how I could use your animiation. Thanks!

  2. Jimmy,

    I am in agreement with Jen, this is really a GREAT way to explain the flywheel. I have a PPT to make on Good to Great on 23rd July, is there any possibility of getting a copy to use. (Naturally, I will acknowledge the source)

    Andy M

  3. Thanks for the great animation. I will make it part of my presentation to the team about taking on board the principles in Good to Great. Love your work.

  4. Hey Jimmy,

    I would like to use the flywheel animation in a PPT presentation. we don;t have web access so can’t access the link. Is it downloadable as an mpeg or something?


  5. Hey Jimmy,

    I would like to use the flywheel animation in a PPT presentation. However, I would like to use the image and just talk through the narration – rather than have it appear on the screen. Do you have an image only flash file that you could email? THANK YOU!


  6. Hi Jimmy
    I Chair the PR & Marketing for my Rotary International District in Sydney, Australia. Rotary of course has a wheel as their logo. Your flywheel animation fits well with the idea that many Rotarians globally, little by little, achieve outstanding results – for instance in the eradication of Polio, the promotion of peace and literacy, the provision of shelter, safe drinking water and tools for self-sustaining food security. I would love to be able to embed your flywheel animation in my monthly Newsletter and also use as part of a powerpoint presentation. I would of course, acknowledge your IP and the authorship of Jim Collins. I do hope you can help me to help the Rotary wheel keep turning. Could you email the animation please? Many thanks from Downunder. Ann Burleigh

  7. If possible I would like to use your great animation for purpose of illustrating the flywheel concept at our company which is attempting to implement Good To Great principles.

    Thank you!
    Jim Dale

  8. Brother:

    Can I get your animated flywheel for a presentation, as others have asked? The link doesn’t seem to work or at least I don’t know how to download the file to insert in my powerpoint?


  9. hey jimmy
    I really like ur animation of the flywheel,especially the simultaneous explanation u hav given.
    i was hoping u would email the file to me so that i may use it in my presentation work,as it would fit very well.

  10. Jimmy,

    Such a wonderful, succint illustration of the flywheel concept. I just love it. I was wondering if you’d be willing to share the FLA or executable file for us to use internally when there isn’t internet connection?

    In any event, I’m a big fan.

  11. This is a great Flash. Do you mind if I use it on my website to help explain the flywheel effect?



  12. Jimmy,

    I’ve tried explaining the flywheel concept to coworkers who have yet to read the Good to Great book and to be frank, they’re a bunch of knuckleheads who cannot visualize it. This will do the trick. Thank you

  13. So I was wondering if anyone used the flywheel to construct a magnetic linear motor? If you use the flywheel concept, using magnets to permanently charge a solenoid, wouldn’t you be able to get at least 100% energy back no matter the friction or current or gaussian?
    Has a company ever tried that, it would help my laptop run much faster of course 😉

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  15. I played, and attributed, your flywheel concept in a talk on leadership. The animation perfectly illustrates the amount of effort needed to help volunteers in this case become successful. I’ve repurposed the talk in a blog post intended for someone new to the field of technical writing and again have attributed your work. No copyright infringement is intended.

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