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Is my company great?

In the mid 1980's it was popular to talk about excellence.  Since then, not so much.

What does it take to make a great company. 

Here are my thoughts; Number One, the company must be capable of making a profit to sustain itself and it's employees; Number two,a  great company should have long term, profitable customers, Number three it should have long term and secure emoloyees at all levels.


What do you think?  Please respond and I will share your thoughts.


Jim Mitchell

In the mid 1980's it was popular to talk about excellence. Since then, not so much.


What does it take to make a great company? 

Here are my thoughts;

Number One, the company must be capable of making a profit to sustain itself and it's employees;

Number two,a great company should have long term, profitable customers,

Number three great companies have long term, secure employees at all levels.

What do you think?               Please weigh in!


There is an old Jack Welch (GE) adage which roughly states, "If you are neither Number 1 or Number 2 in a particular market,aspire to be or get out of there!". Put simply, Great companies do a few things truly well. It is a value proposition which sits at the heart of every start up all the way through to the largest multi-nationals. Think of Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Dell, Shell, and pretty much the list of the Fortune 500 and you will see a dedication and focus to a very few areas for which the company is synonymous. However, the value equation is not always as simple as say, a car manufacturer making great cars. There is so much more in achieving the sales cycle than just a great product. The history of industry and manufacturing is filled with great products which lost out to their 'inferior' competitors. The trick is to work the Value model to establish which levers support this 'One great idea' and harness these to create market advantage. In this way Tesco, the UK retailer, can be the Number 1 Grocer in the country but is a specialist in real estate location and supply chain. Another supply chain master is Dell who also produce cost competitive laptops and PCs. So when looking for the Value credentials of the Greats' do not always get stuck on what they produce. Remember it is not just what you do, but also possessing the Value levers which support you whilst you do it!

I agree with the three points made. However, two additional things in my experience would be having a clear vision (and ability to actionize the vision)of the leadership on not just what the business should move towards but also on what the organization should itself shape into (or not shape into). The other critical factor is the culture of the organization, where in it aims to identify and bring out explicitely on what the company really means to the employees and also what the employees mean to the company. .. just my 0.02 USD

Veneet- Thanks for your input. I agree that vision and culture are critical.

So let's review, if you work for a great company, it will be a profitable company year in and year out. These will be a clear mission and everyone will understand it. The culture will lead to happy employees and these happy employees will attract and serve long term profitable clients.

Seems a little too easy... where is the fly in my ointment?

Jim Mitchell

Hi James.. interesting thread.. reminded me of the 100 years survival rule for great brands/ companies that I once heard NRN spoke about

To add to above, another aspect of a great company would be not just to achieve laurels over a few years period; when it got all the media limelight, but to constantly innovate itself and stay ahead of the curve , pleasantly surprising their customers/users with new products and services which fulfills the value proposition. Passion as the key elements is bound to percolate down to the ranks; to keep trying to do something hitherto not done, to keep innovating and thus keep iself “Relevant” .. there have been many examples of "undisputed leaders" in their space in recent years, whose perception of the passion waning away exponentially hastened their market downturn.. this is what keeps them sustained and they don’t sell out soon

Another one is that no great company would typically rely on just a sole individual or a small group to carry the mantle .. there have been numerous ventures wherein an individual or a small got a big idea and had the courage and conviction to lead it through .. but as time passed if the corporate identity didn’t become bigger than the founding group.. the entities went down progressively .. only when the corporation started living by itself they were able to deliver sustained value proposition in the market and achieved true greatness in the longer term.

Billy and Manu-

You both bring good points to the table. Billy seems to point to determination and an element of luck, while Manu describes a dilligent culture based on exceeding customer expectations and innovation, that depends on broad leadership, not a small elite "inside" leadership team. Perhaps they are one in the same!

Thus, above profitability, satisfied and profitable customers, and happy engaged employees, great companies must have a certain strategic leadership that is transparent; and, either be very lucky, or be very good at changing in concert with the changing needs / preferences of their customer base.

What did I miss? Please weigh in. Do you know of such a company?

A friend of mine saw this post and sent me an e-mail asking, "what about non-profits?"

I think this is a good question. (I do not know why she was reluctant to post it herself) The fact is that longivity for the company (survival beyond the days of the founders) is what I am referring to, not simply profit.

If a compnay lasts over 40 years, it is multi-generational and will have had to adjust to the next generation of behavior and technology. Good leadership is not afraid of changing a successful brand to help it survive... nothing lasts forever, so change must be purposeful and successful to insure a safe harbor for clients and employees... not to mention stockholders, or donors and other stakeholders, in the case of non-profits.

What do you think?

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