After extensive research by TomorrowToday’s Innovations and Futures Research Lab we are uncovering what makes companies great in the new world of work. Here is a snapshot these six competencies or behaviours that successful companies are displaying:
- They implement Strategies@Speed: In a fast paced ever changing world, implementing strategies (before the competition) is essential for success. Our research reveals that “faster companies” have 40% higher sales growth and 52% higher operating profits than their slower competitors. Opportunities rapidly present themselves and then disappear – either because the market changed or more likely a competitor met the need. Deliberating too long on creating the ideal strategy results in missed opportunities for growth and productivity improvements. Great companies focus on having a clearly articulated and communicated vision or “destination” – They empower their people using values to guide behaviour and united people to a common cause or quest. They encourage agility and the acceptance that plans can change as obstacles and new opportunities are encountered. What always stays the same, as a guiding beacon, is the vision or destination that has been clearly set and communicated by leadership.
- They create Collaborative Communities: Great companies recognise that the world is now too complex to “go it alone” they also recognise that, by building and nurturing collaborative platforms they benefit from the next wave of innovation, increased competitiveness and efficiency gains. Facebook, Google, Apple, ebay and Amazon are all great business that have harnessed the power of collaborative communities by building platforms around which communities can grow and flourish. But it’s not just tech companies that are benefiting from this new collaborative communities business model. Anglo American, the mining giant, provides an example of a company that is strengthening local collaborative platforms. By investing more than $3million in mining-related SMEs located in communities around its South Africanmining operations, Anglo American not only created about 10,000 newjobs in the process but now benefits through easier and cheaper access to high-quality suppliers. Michael Porter the Harvard strategy guru believes that “Local clusters…play a crucial role in driving productivity, innovation, and competitiveness”
- They are Results focused and recognise that what is good for society is also good for business: Thirty five years ago Milton Friedman stated in the New York Times that the only “social responsibility of business is to increase its profits” this maxim assumed that what was good for business was good for society and not the other way around. Today Walmart, Unilever, GE, IBM and Nestle, companies well known for their hard nose approach to business, are recognising that by focusing on what is good for society they can unearth a new wave of productivity, innovation and cost savings that are good for both their business and the broader society. Profit with purpose or profits that create “thick” not “thin” value are the results that will differentiate the winners from the losers in the new world of work.
- They create and nurture an Innovative culture where experimentation is encouraged: Great companies recognise that some of the most successful product innovations started out as failed experiments. The 3M post-it note started off as a failed glue. The microwave started life as a military aircraft radar system. Viagra was initially trailed as a drug for people with heart problems! There are countless examples of products that initially failed but became huge successes in other areas. Of course safety and risks need to be managed but the reality is if you are not failing and experimenting you are being innovative. As Michael Jordan, the famous basketball player, says “I have failed over and over and over again in my life…and that is why I succeed!”
- They recognise that the People are the greatest source for improved operational efficiencies (and hence cost savings), competitiveness and innovation: Over the past two decade an obsession with process reengineering and lean business has stripped the excess costs out of most businesses. Gains can still be made by focusing on operational efficiencies but great companies raise the bar and also leverage the massive amount of inert value in their people – whether these people be employees customers or partners.
- They are accomplished storyTellers: Great companies deliver sustainable results by inspiring the people who work for and buy from them. They recognise that people are looking for partnerships and expect to be inspired by their interactions with the company. Great companies build inspirational quests and visions and they communicate the tirelessly – IBM for instance is on a quest to “Build a Smarter Planet” and their chairman Samuel Palmisano circumnavigated the world six times last year undertaking tours where he communicated stories of what building a smarter planet means, why it’s important and how society and hence IBM will prosper as a result. When IBM launched their quest for a smarter planet the leadership set a challenge to the IBM team to create 300 smarter solutions in partnership with clients… the goal was well exceeded with more than 1,200 solutions being created in the first year.