In Search for the Ideal Company
Over the last two decades I have worked for a number of companies, consulted even more. Some of them were outstanding, others were, well, less so. It is time to reflect and share what I believe are
3 characteristics of a well-run business and desired place to work and be
(1) Client delight
- You don’t just satisfy, you delight your customers. You listen, understand and address their needs. It is a relationship, a dialogue. Not too surprising your customers not only come back to you but refer and recommend your company and its products and services to family and friends.
- The products and services you provide are of high quality. Period. And it doesn’t end with the delivery of a product; it continues with an outstanding customer service. Want an example? Try Tesla Motors.
- High quality of development of products and/or services. Whether you follow traditional best practices or practice lean and agile production methodologies and frameworks, the development of your product and/or services is committed to quality from the beginning to end, without compromises. This is faster, cheaper, safer and more rewarding to everyone involved.
- You have an ear to the market and you deliver fast.
- Your employees are committed to delight your customers because they know your and their customers. They understand and live quality and support company goals because they are shaping them, too.
(2) A happy workplace
- Your employees are not human resources, they are people and you treat them as such. Consequently, there is no “Human Resources” department; you call it “People Services” or “People Centre”. It not just a term, it is a philosophy and practice.
- Your employees are inspired, motivated and performing, they enjoy their work because they can identify with the purpose of the company, love working with their colleagues and serving their customers, are passionate about their work and enjoy a safe, secure workplace.
- The workforce is one big functioning organism. There is no place for static organizational hierarchies and distance between management and “the rest”. The communication style is open, transparent and conversational (vs. top-down and hierarchical).
- You have and support autonomous teams with clear visions, objectives, roles & responsibilities.
- Corporate leadership doesn’t cling to external “power and authority” but actively build future leaders and empowers their workforce.
- Your company is the place to work. Not too surprisingly, turnover and sick days are low, very low.
(3) Business value
- You understand that short-term profits (EBIT) are the means and not the purpose of organizational performance. Instead you focus on long-term business performance parameters such Returns on Assets (ROA).
- Your company has a positive business outlook. This is reflected in a positive, expected revenue stream, forecasted ROA, outstanding quality of the development of your products and/or services and, last but not least, a happy workplace (see above).
- You continuously strive to become better, better and better. Innovation spans products, services, processes and your own people.
- Innovation is not limited to a closed and exclusive „innovation department“. Innovation is open and everyone in the company is involved and participates. You encourage and empower your people to think outside the box. You don’t punish mistakes and failures but take them as learning opportunities. Hence, you recognize people’s ideas and celebrate successes together.
Excite! – Build your own ideal company
Over the last 18 months I have developed a comprehensive toolkit to evaluate and unfold the organizational potential and performance. It is simple, practical and applicable for short-, mid- and long-term organizational needs. It helps deliver measurable business results for client delight, a happy workplace, and business value. It does not create administrative effort without any sustainable value. As a matter of fact it fosters self-organizing, scalable best-practice sharing.
I call this toolkit and approach “Excite!” because unfolding organizational potential can and is exciting indeed. But, and this is a big “but”, it requires an open mind and common intent to unfold organizational potential and performance. Not every company has this mindset. But then, not every company is the ideal company, the best place to work and be. It is a matter of choice.
Have I always worked for an ideal company? Well, no, not always; but, yes, I have worked for companies and teams that followed the principles outlined above (one of them was (during my times there) Cambridge Technology Partners and Vail Resorts). And if a company I work for is not ideal I always have a choice: I leave the company or help unfold its potential and performance. The latter is what motivates me.