There are very, very few companies that have been great over a long time. It’s as if they were able to assemble an organization, a strategy, a culture, and product/services that was aligned, efficient, effective, and driven to deliver what the market wanted at a precise moment in history, but it was not sustainable. Or they became less competitive, or their product or service was superseded by something better. Think of Kodak, Xerox, Compaq, and most recently, Blackberry.
The problem is that when they are at the top and business is booming, everyone points at them as something to emulate. The admirers hold them up as the ‘way to do it’ and they attempt to copy the success. United tried to copy Southwest with Ted, K-Mart tried to copy Wal-Mart, Compaq tried to copy Dell, and none of those worked.
I’m not saying that we can’t learn from others. What I am saying is be careful about trying to copy what someone else does well. Focus instead on the few truisms that will enhance your own strategy, culture, and operations. Develop monitoring systems that alert you to changes external and internal to your own organization. And build skills at strategy, execution, and organization development without heavy reliance on models based on other companies.
© Copyright 2016 Bob Legge
Bob Legge provides organizations with the ability to exceed their most ambitious goals. I work with leaders of Fortune 500 companies, small and mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. Together, we drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org