I am currently reading an so far interesting book called “From good to great” by Jim Collins. He compared companies performing well with excellent performers to find out what made them shift into a higher gear. Some of the interesting points he uncovered include:
Management – “You can achieve anything as long as you don’t mind who gets the glory”
As one would expect it’s all about management and the right leaders, but maybe not the leaders one would think… The excellent performers were led by exceptional leaders (which he defines as Level 5 leaders), but it’s not the likes of Jack Welch, celebrity or outgoing self-centered leaders, but the humble, reserved, disciplined and strong of will leaders that rather give others the credit when it goes well (and looks in the mirror when it does not go as well).
Employ the right people to figure out what do
The excellent performers always found the right skills first, then wrote the “master plan”, not the other way around. This might sound odd, and it is might prove wrong for very specific tasks that need to get done, but this do makes sense when you think about the challenge of building a company with excellent performance (and of the management team), there is an never-ending flow of opportunities and threats that need to be tackled. You would rather bring the best talent to help you tackle these and adopt the plan as you go.
In a world that changes very quickly, you always need to question you core business. Because you have always been producing a product or service, does not mean that the best thing you could do is to continue to do so. You might become obsolete or marginal before you even realize it.
A corporate culture built in discipline
All companies has a culture, and some have a discipline. With disciplined people you do not need a hierachy, and with disciplined thinking you do not need bureaucracy. When you combine discipline with Entrepreneurship you create the synergy needed to reach excellence.
All the companies Jim Collins studied never used technology as the sole purpose to change, but they were all pioneers in using new technology, with specific purpose and intent to accelerate change.
Dramatic change programs, complex and difficult restructuring where clear inhibitors to excellence. None of the excellent performers change to excellence over-night or through a single event, but rather through consistency.
The book is recommended reading for any Entrepreneur, Senior management, board member or other people involved in management