Unleashing Great Companies

Over the years we  have worked in and for great organizations.  As professors and students of culture, we've always been curious about great companies.   What makes them great?  How do they get that way?  And how do they stay that way?  

It’s still not clear why some companies have "IT" and others don’t.  We honestly believe that every organization has the capacity for "IT".  To some extent, that spark is alive in everyone and in every organization, yet it seems to burn more brightly in some more than others.  

If being great company and having "IT" lights you up, then read on.  We've compiled a list of nine elements commonly found in  great companies based upon our on-the-street research:

It Starts With a Spark!
These companies started with a compelling idea -- typically solving a problem with a smart solution.  The orginal idea came from a spark of enthusiasm, these folks just had to do it, there was no stopping them!    

A Clearly Defined Culture 
"This is the way we do things around here."  Great companies have vibrant, exacting cultures.  And the culture informs everything:  their products, their communication, the feel of the place.  Inevitably, a pride develops among employees who find it rewarding to be part of an organization that has congruency between what they say they stand for and what they actually stand for.   

The strategic direction and business model are clear and compelling.  The leadership sets the tone for the organization, providing a role model that is consistent with the culture.  (Nothing is more damaging and painful to endure than a leader who behaves counter to the values and the culture.) 

We’ve met some great leaders who are driven by a compelling purpose, but if you dig a little deeper, they will tell you that without being profitable, there is no mission.  They understand that in order to fulfil their purpose, they need to be profitable. 

Great companies are deeply, genuinely committed to service.  They couldn’t imagine doing business any other way.  The iconic service companies have come to understand that if they take care of their employees, their employees will take care of their customers.  In short, a great employee experience guarantees a great customer experience.  

Everything throughout the organization lines up in accordance with the culture and the company values -- who gets hired, how they are compensated and the language that is used.  If you are exploring a job and the hiring manager uses the term 'subordinates' -- run!!    

The Business Basics Are Understood By All  
Great companies educate their employees about the basics of the business.  The business model.  The part they play in the bigger picture.  The expectations around service.  It’s all been taught and is constantly reinforced, with very little left up to chance.

We’ve noticed that the great companies have a their own set of ‘non-negotiables’, the stuff they won’t compromise on -- ever.  Regardless of outside or inside pressure they just won’t, they can’t budge on this stuff.  It’s so deeply hard-wired into them, it comes from their heart and soul.  It contributes to the foundation of their culture. 

Great companies cultivate loyalty among their employees and customers alike - and loyalty is hard for competitors to steal or replicate.  Customer and employee loyalty is the pot of gold at the end of the culture rainbow.  

© 2012 DillonMarcus, Executive Retreats