During one of my senior management coaching sessions last week, I posed the question: "So just what is it that makes a company successful?"
I had the group whiteboard the exercise and brain-storm around it, with some interesting results.
Unsurprisingly, the finance orientated managers talked about healthy cash flow, strong financial foundations, low debtor days, controlled stock levels and robust management reporting systems.
Sales and marketing people, highlighted strong customer relationships, reliable products, good people, who were fully developed and understood their place in the grand scheme of things.
All, however, highlighted strong leadership as being the most obvious commonality, when identifying consistently successful companies - and of course, they are right.
Success permeates downwards and whatever happens in the boardroom, affects every single employee: As leaders, we have to accept the huge responsibility that we have to our people - they have given us their trust; their loyalty; their commitment.
I believe that there are in fact five main drivers that determine our success, but first let's consider some other fundamental facts:
Change is continuous and will become more rapid as we move forward over time. Senior management must be capable of reacting to those changes and be prepared to take advantage of them and yet stay within the overall framework and agreed strategy.
The role of strategy is fundamental if the people within an organisation are to be enabled to make the level of contribution of which they are capable. Strategy, based on a good grasp of the core competencies of a business, is an essential precursor to achieving optimal shareholder value.
The world's leading organisations continuously seek to improve their performance. There may be unlimited potential for achieving accelerated improvement but if this potential is not being realised, good change agents must line up and mobilise all the forces (or drivers) for improvement.
So what are the five main drivers for improvement in organisations?
• Lean operations
• Balanced culture
• Customer responsiveness
Strategy sets direction, and gives focus to improvement. It must however be deployed throughout the organisation to be effective.
Processes need to be mapped and analysed in a methodical way; projects must be managed; problem symptoms traced to root causes; data must be collected before decisions are taken; trends in customer preferences detached and fed back; improvement activity of any kind reported on and coordinated; improvement action measured. Just about everything should be done to a discipline.
A balanced culture means effective, creative management of people. Customers are served by people; processes are managed by people. Only people can deliver quality improvement. For them to work well they must be empowered, given direction, measured, and reviewed and success recognised.
Customer responsiveness keeps the organisation focused on customer needs, reactions and changing requirements.
Finally, leadership ensures that everyone is enthused and supported to work on the strategy, improve processes, served customers and active team players.
Today's News: If you didn't make it over here at the weekend, you will have missed the launch of the first TSE Roundtable, which is on Tuesday April 14th.
"The Future of Professional Selling" promises to be the most significant online interactive event of the year so far and lining up with me are: Jill Konrath, Linda Richardson, Dave Stein and Nigel Edelshain.
Do please scroll down to the last post, for full details, and then register as soon as you possibly can, as places have to be limited.
Over the weekend, we took the decision to make some significant changes to the way we manage Top 10: As the site approaches it's second anniversary, we feel it is time change the ground rules and encourage greater reader participation.
So, from next week, we will no longer have a "Top Sales Article Of The Week" Instead, we will simply have a "Top Sales Article Of The Month" and the twelve winners will battle it out for the "Top Sales Article Of The Year" title in December.
We are also going to change the way we allow articles to be nominated, and I will let you have all the details, once I have spoken to all the current participating article sites.
Finally, we will be introducing a reader poll, to allow you to vote for your favourite article each month - your votes will account for 50% of total marks, the other 50% will be awarded by the expert panel.
Tomorrow: On the JF Guest Author Spot I welcome back Dave Stein - "10 Ideas That Will Increase Your Flow Of Qualified Sales Leads"
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