The thing that makes great companies great is…

I’ve spent quite some considerable amount of time investigating what makes great companies great. Readers will know that i’ve read a lot of Clayton Christensen, but i’ve also interviewed CEO’s and been fortunate enough to hear some great speakers, or been past great tit-bits via various social media.

Here are the key takeouts that appear to make great companies

  1. They have great leaders, people who are prepared to make decisions even hard ones, and act
  2. They have a cause, purpose or set of common belief – wheather that is competitive, aspirational or humanitarian
  3. They take risks – the culture supports risk taking (ie doesn’t punish it at the very least), and these companies are prepared to do things that make the sharemarket shudder (let go of legacy money streams or beliefs)
  4. Great companies get the right people on the job and give them the autonomy and support to get the job done – and are prepared to loose today’s key personnell in order to get tomorrow’s business
  5. To get results you need to free up resources – expecting people who have day jobs and targets to hit to be the agents of change is insane…
  6. Organisations are conservative – they unknowingly become uniformaty machines systematically erraditcating anything that doesn’t fit with the entrenched model or way of doing things. Middle managers become experts at the ‘considered no’ to new ideas, and its for this reason organisations can’t grow and you hit stall points. Fear typically beats creativity, fear of career limiting moves, punishment or even of fame.
  7. When it comes to innovation, the more perfect your knowledge, the less attractive the innovation is. If you’re feeling comfortable with an idea, then someone’s already doing it…
  8. If you are serious about change, you need to invest in it.
  9. As scary as a seperate spin out is to the CEO, these are about the only proven way to build a new business model.

And now for a collection of my own thoughts

  1. Companies love a crisis – nothing will happen until it absolutely must – but by then its too late so..
  2. Business is about momentum – its much easier to make small changes in trajectory than to pull a business out of a nose dive….
  3. What seems like a big scary decision now, will look small and logical when you look back at it. So get on with it
  4. In doing this, remember that the people that go you into the current situation, aren’t the ones that will get you out – turkey’s don’t vote for Christmas and neither will they like you telling them that their time has past…
  5. If you want to do something new, get someone in who has a history of doing that new thing – whether thats dealing with decline, new product growth or product launch…. assuming your capable people can do it is wrong
  6. Often doing nothing is the absolutely worst case…even going the wrong direction is better because at least you are in motion

And finally, the only thing that really makes a difference is execution. You can collect as much information as you like, get all your best thinkers writing documents till the cows come home… the reality is that the only thing that really matters is executing better ….

The best companies in the world do this better than anyone else

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