Achieving Sustained Success
Few organizations achieve sustained success year after year and decade after decade. Very few of the businesses that were leaders in their industry 100 years ago are still in existence today. Almost all that are still in business experienced periods of great success and periods of mediocrity along the way, sometimes coming close to failure. Some including GM actually failed and came back from bankruptcy.
There are four key drivers which are being done very well at times when organizations are highly successful. These drivers are mission, leadership, culture and innovation. When any one or more of these organizational effectiveness drivers are not being done very well, organizational effectiveness and performance start to drop, sometimes very significantly. Yes, there also are many other drivers of organizational effectiveness (eg. workforce effectiveness, risk management, technology effectiveness, sales and marketing effectiveness, process effectiveness, supply chain effectiveness, etc.), but their effectiveness all rely on the four key drivers to be effective.
Mission – Whether an organization is a business, not for profit, governmental or any other type of organization, the mission needs to be clearly defined and make sense. There needs to be a strong reason for the organization to exist in terms of meeting the needs of a defined group of people or entities (businesses, etc.). The mission needs to be clearly defined and communicated to both employees of the organization (or the organization’s volunteers) and the organization’s constituents. The mission may need to change as constituent needs or desires change, or in reaction to disruptive products or technologies.
Leadership – The effectiveness of an organization’s top leaders and the people they put in other important leadership positions is critical to achieving and sustaining high levels of organizational effectiveness and success. The top leader has enormous leverage in terms of putting in place the conditions necessary for making and keeping the organization effective and achieving desired outcomes in the short and long term. 360 leadership surveys are a great tool for gathering anonymous feedback for use in boosting the effectiveness of leaders at all levels of the organization.
Culture – Organizational culture is a broad issue. It includes integrity, how people treat each other, the extent to which employees or members share and are passionate about the organization’s mission and meeting its desired outcomes, commitment to organizational and individual learning, and many other aspects. A strong, healthy culture is essential for achieving sustained organizational success.
Innovation – Innovation can mean different things to different organizations. To some, it is staying ahead of the competition with new and better products or services that people or businesses want or will want when they learn about these products and services. To other organizations innovation is identifying and implementing better ways to do the things they do to execute their mission.
Recommended Books – While many books provide useful information for assessing and achieving excellence in one or more of the drivers of organizational effectiveness, the following three books are particularly interesting and useful:
- The Fifth Discipline – The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization …. Peter M. Senge
- Creative Intelligence – Harnessing the Power to Create, Connect and Inspire …. Bruce Nussbaum
- Start-up Nation …. Dan Senor and Saul Singer