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Posted by Sarah Brown on 02 Sept '13

What makes any organisation successful?

Success goes far beyond the brand image, marketing hype and social media position. To be successful, a company, charity or social enterprise must be solid with a clear vision and values.

I was running a training session a couple of weeks ago and in preparing for it I needed to remind myself about data on what makes a successful company. I read “Built to Last” by Jim Collins quite a long time ago, it was originally published in 1994 but it is still very powerful in its conclusions.

The book traces over 40 years of companies that are successful and compares them to those that are not. In summary, it identifies that one of the main indicators of a successful business over the long run is clarity of vision and values. When you think about it, it is not really surprising – know where you are going and what you are willing to do to get there and make sure everyone in the organisation knows it. I summarise it as corporate personality. With a person we like and trust people who are consistent and honest, and we understand, rather than those who are unpredictable and not truthful, superficially one thing and underneath another. The same is true of corporate ‘people’.

If I don’t know if what I have ordered will turn up or do what it says I won’t buy from you. The essence of success is to provide what people need and want and promote that you are doing that. It was always dangerous to underperform as word of mouth about bad service travelled fast but now it travels almost instantly.

While you may think this is all self-evident and that surely everyone knows it I still find when I do the Principles Prioritiser© with organisations that people even within the same team – often the Board- do not agree on what are the values of the company. During the training session I used the tool and again people found that though they thought they would agree when it came to it the values that they believed the organisation stood for were different. That means that like the picture of the house, what is being promoted may not be what is actually happening it may just be surface deep. Does your organisation have the depth to be successful?

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Tags: entrepreneur sellability