Gone are the days of consistency, predictability, stability, or maintaining the status quo defining organizational strength. Instead, an organization’s very survival is dependent on its ability to embrace volatility and change in the marketplace. Organizations that can demonstrate adaptability can survive and have some short-term success. However, short-term success does not define an organization’s real strength. For organizations to have long-term, sustained success, they not only need to adapt to change, they must demonstrate the ability to do more with less, respond quickly to change, and to create change. Organizations that can do this effectively will not only survive, but thrive.
Organizational strength is not measured by what you build, what you sell, or how you are structured. Today, organizational strength is measured by three foundational assets – Efficiency, Speed, and Innovation, along with 12 intangible assets. These 15 assets make up the body that covers the engine that drives companies to success. Assessment of these 15 assets of the business provide leaders with the tools they need to make better decisions and engage the organization in more purposeful strategic planning.
In last week’s TM Solutions Blog, the first of a three-part series on what makes a successful company, we discussed the first five factors that drive organizational strength: the foundational asset of Efficiency, along with the four intangible assets of Trust, Accountability, Quality, and Communication. This week, we’ll take on five more: the foundational asset of Speed, along with the intangible assets of Awareness, Customer Focus, Execution, and Flexibility.
The best companies—the ones that exhibit the greatest strength in terms of organizational effectiveness, manage profitability and maximize productivity by moving fast. Speed often defines our ability to seize on quickly-closing windows of market opportunity or to retain our customers when situations go awry. Whatever opportunity or a challenge ahead, companies need speed.
Speed often requires foresight on the part of executives, managers, and teams. Organizations that can stay ahead of their competition identify their opportunities and challenges ahead of time, when possible, and tailor a quick response to meet changing conditions.
Building companies for speed requires the ability and commitment—not one or the other—to meet obligations and exceed goals. Strong organizations consistently produce more than expected in all areas, even with high expectations and short deadlines.
With ability, commitment, and foresight in their arsenal of weapons, organizations quickly identify what needs to be done and take action with a results-oriented mentality, whether it’s solving a customer problem or bringing a new product or service to the market.
Anticipating the road ahead enables companies to tackle problems and institute controls and contingency plans to address them. People can effectively respond to urgent situations calling for quick action and creative solutions, matching these situations with decisive impactful results.
The strongest organizations also exhibit a hyper, 360-degree awareness that reaches externally and internally. They have a strong sense of the market within which they perform, and they understand their competitors and what those competitors bring to the fight for business.
From an internal perspective, the strongest companies are fully aware of their own capabilities, strengths and weaknesses. They have a solid understanding of how their processes and systems impact customer value which is a cornerstone of building ever-expanding, rewarding customer relationships.
While many companies have mastered the external means of data collection and analysis required to know their markets and competitors, they lack the inward focus they need to be aware of their own power and limitations. For your organization to fully succeed, you must have a culture where executives, managers, and teams seek and welcome constructive feedback from the individuals and teams that make up the lifeblood of the organization. When we are able to candidly share information, advice, and suggestions with others on how to be more successful, we can be more responsive to our environment and make adjustments to resources appropriately.
Companies, whether they deliver products or services, are nothing without their customers. We must continuously remind ourselves to make our customers the primary focus of our actions. As we go about our work in a customer-centric mindset, we can more readily readjust our priorities to respond to changing customer demands.
We must always strive to put ourselves in the shoes of our customers. One way we can easily relate to them is that they face many of the same opportunities and challenges we ourselves face, and at a similar breakneck speed in the modern world of business. Since our goal is to make our products and services indispensible to them, we must be prepared to readily adjust our own priorities to respond to pressing and changing client demands.
As companies continuously build their own strategies and responses around the needs of their customers, they develop trust and credibility with them. Organizations often build this trust and credibility, a foundation for an ever-expanding win-win relationship, on demonstrating concern and responding quickly to customer issues. Customers always remember how you respond when the going gets tough, and it’s in these situations where you gain their loyalty.
With any relationship, you must also manage success. Companies should never take the ease with which they navigate a customer relationship for granted. When organizations understand their customers’ evolving requirements and continuously seek new ways to provide value, they will earn greater rewards similar to those achieved when quickly and expertly solving customer problems.
High energy and commitment, coupled with a strong desire to achieve, is the fuel for executing and making companies stronger. The strongest companies among us set clear objectives and measures, and match them with the right people who show the energy and commitment to rise to each occasion.
The best organizations demonstrate the highest levels of execution. Our level of execution determines whether we win or lose in business (revenue) and by how much (profit or loss). Thus, we must drive to be successful and in a timely fashion when meeting and achieving our objections and deadlines.
Strong organizations also require an even greater fire burning within their executives, managers, and teams at an individual level, that of initiative. These companies have an abundance of self-starters who identify what needs to be done and take action, often before ever being asked. The initiative of just one person within an organization can make the difference, company-wide, in a group’s ability to seize an opportunity or address a problem before it’s too late.
Finally, the best companies execute in good times and bad. It’s true that success often builds upon itself—our ability to win today’s business often places us in an optimal position to win tomorrow’s. But what really defines the most successful among us is the ability to keep moving forward with our plans and remain focused, even as we face challenges and deal with adversity. When we create wins in these negative situations, our pile of victories grows even more formidable, building a sustainable operation for years to come.
If you haven’t picked up on this recurring theme by now, let us note that the one harbinger of successful enterprises in modern business is their ability to embrace change on a daily basis. Whether it’s change to drive innovation, adapt to a customer need, or to shape our teams better to meet future opportunities, we must be comfortable with ambiguity and a fast-paced environment.
The more comfortable we are with these realities of business—and we must accept them as facts of life and respond accordingly—we can quickly adapt to the changing needs of our market and customers. With the size and speed of the challenges organizations face in modern business, there’s no time to dwell on mistakes or to daydream about how things were like yesterday.
To have this ability to adjust promptly and effectively to changing circumstances, companies must prove they can find alternative methods, often at the expense of tried-and-true methods, when they encounter fresh obstacles. Our greatest challenge in today’s business is maintaining our effectiveness, even when experiencing major changes in work tasks or our work environment. Having the right attitude to match our abilities enables a flexibility that leaves our organizations more nimble to adapt to our own needs and those of our customers.
Come back to this space next week, as we will explore a third foundational asset–Innovation–and the final four intangible assets that drive organizational strength.