What Winning Companies Do to Stay on Top
Successful companies aren’t perfect – no company is – they continually face internal and external challenges. But these companies have reached a point where they can effectively respond to those challenges. They understand their success; they’ve nurtured it, scaled it, repeated it, and sustained it. In fact, these businesses have a pattern of success firmly etched into their organizational DNA. Here are just a few of the strengths they use to stay on top:
Sense of Urgency
Successful companies are leery of their success. Winning companies take immediate action on the critical issues, opportunities, and threats facing the business. They don’t wait until next week, next month, next quarter, or next year. They make real progress every day on the issues that are most important to success and winning.
Urgency is what drives a great company to look outward for new opportunities for success and threats to the survival of the business.
Reinvention is the fountain of youth for all successful companies. To stay vibrant, winning businesses are in a constant state of renewal and in a continual state of transformation. The definition of the organization’s business model is continually challenged so that it never becomes captive to one way of doing things. A successful company is constantly examining long held assumptions and letting go of closely held methods, products, or processes that are no longer working.
Every organization sits on the verge of irrelevance. To survive, a business must be able to change as fast as change itself. A smart company changes before it gets into a situation that forces change. A company stays on top by having flexibility in its DNA.
Success in a winning organization isn’t dependent on any single individual. The organization as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Entrepreneurial spirit, vision, creativity, risk-taking, and initiative are fully institutionalized.
Everyone is responsible for growth and innovation. It is not the exclusive domain of the “creative” folks. The best companies don’t waste any of the imagination or intellectual power from anywhere in the organization. Growth and innovation are systemic.
Great companies have appropriate and unambiguous decision rights that are completely transparent. It is clear who needs to be consulted before a decision is made, who has the authority to make a decision, who needs to know about the decision, and who is accountable for the outcome. There is nothing to hide and nowhere to hide it.
Successful organizations don’t just make better decisions; they act on the decisions that are made. When decisions are made they don’t sit in a stack alongside other decisions waiting for something to happen – it gets done. Because the appropriate levels of the organization were involved in the process, from the beginning, they are committed to seeing it through. Issues are discussed, debated and decided. This is a far different dynamic from having decisions made in the vacuum of the ivory tower and dropped down on the people who are expected to make it happen on the ground. The questions of what needs to be done, why it needs to be done, and how it is to be done all happens simultaneously.
Ownership and Accountability
The best organizations never point out the window to blame external conditions; they look in the mirror and know they are responsible for their results. A sense of ownership signifies the belief employees have that they have a responsibility for their jobs that extends well beyond the accountability described in a job description. Employees of winning companies feel a high degree of responsibility for the success of the business.
People understand that what they do individually, and as a team, influences the success of the whole. They are empowered to make a difference. People are not looking to their managers to make all the decisions and have all the answers. Managers and team members are dependent on each other for success. Teams are encouraged to think and act for themselves because a high level of trust and respect is evident among them. This creates a culture where people act in the best interest of the company. They make tough decisions because it’s the right thing to do for the company, even though it might be difficult individually.
What are some of the key traits you see in winning companies?