They say hindsight is “20-20”. Here are several key strategies if you are starting a business or have an established one that I have learned from experience in working with great organizations. Either way, you are sure to enhance your business from “good to great” by applying these principles:
Create a vision for your company by answering these fundamental questions: What are our core values? Why do we exist beyond making money? What are our future goals?
The founders of great organizations like Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Johnson & Johnson often did not have a vision statement when they started out. But as they grew larger, these companies realized that to be a truly enduring organization they needed a vision for who they are. Vision can be defined by: (i) why your organization exists (beyond making money); (ii) what are your core values; and (iii) what are your future goals. Vision enables organizations to change processes, methods, tactics in response to an ever-changing marketplace, without changing who they are at the core. It enables them to know what should not change. Great organizations are continuingly aligning outward strategies, methods and tactics based on the unchangeable inner vision of who they are. At great companies, you can see it set forth in concrete ways that brings who they are to life and is translated into action.
For example at 3M, scientists are allowed to spend 15 percent of their time working on whatever they are interested. The company believes in sponsoring innovation while protecting the creativity of an individual in solving problems that makes people’s lives better. 3M requires 30 percent of a division’s revenue come from new products introduced. Their vision brings clarity to its future goals and policies for its employees.
Avoid the trap that has seen great companies become obsolete; another reason to define your vision.
Is the product you make or the service you provide, define – make-up – who you are as an organization? After all, that is how your organization generates revenue. Subsequently, if your product or service becomes obsolete, do you go out of business? The answer is “yes”, if your company is defined by your product or service. It’s more important than ever to define your organization by its core purpose — not by your products or services. Business cycles are getting shorter. Technology is making products obsolete faster. Don’t fall into the trap of concentrating on products or services your organization sells.
Enduring organizations frame their identity in terms of their core purpose. For example, Motorola decided long ago to define itself in terms of what it stood for, not what it was making at the time, which was television sets. By doing this, Motorola has leaped from making televisions, to microprocessors to cell phones. Motorola never defined itself by its product unlike Zenith which also made television sets decades ago but doesn’t exist today.