Ideas from the “World’s Best Companies”

19 07 2006

I was reading the April 2006 issue of Business 2.0, entitled “Best Kept Secrets of the World’s Best Companies”. What struck me was that the companies profiled are jumbo, mega-corporations (immediately causing a frown and the question “why aren’t there any small or medium sized companies?”.

I doubt that these are the company’s best kept secrets, but the ideas are interesting if you remember they were designed for and implemented in large organizations (which we seem to associate with success).

The ideas presented were:

  1. Benchmarking – compare everything to the competition
  2. Lending library – have materials available that can provoke creativity
  3. Devil’s advocacy- promote debate
  4. Physically put the boss in the day to day operations
  5. Look for bad news and talk about it
  6. Use external consultants to promote ideas and research
  7. Creative equity arrangements for start-ups, new projects
  8. Everyone is the HR department
  9. Review and question strategy
  10. Peers chose their leaders
  11. Creative economic solution to avoid theft and loss
  12. Executive pay determined by results and collaboration
  13. Prediction markets
  14. Graffiti, promote communication outside “normal” channels
  15. Use greed to motivate, sell and inspire
  16. Maintain work related contact with retirees
  17. Crowdsourcing and open-source advertising
  18. Use employees to watch trends and monitor the market
  19. Hire someone to watch shareholder interests, not the CEO
  20. 3 minute daily morning meeting
  21. Get board members out regularly with customers and front-line workers
  22. Get executives out with customers and product/service users
  23. Pay your people if they save you money
  24. Take the “hard sell” out of your sales force
  25. Become a customer of your own company

First thought: Is it practical or necessary for small and medium sized companies to embrace and implement these ideas and strategies (In a large organization there are large problems, in a small organization there are small ones)?

Second thought: Given the multi-tasking of all employees and executives in small and medium sized organizations, is it realistic to expect results that echo the large corporations if these ideas are implemented on a smaller level? If you believe that a large organization will be populated by specialists and in small organizations generalists are predominant, are the ideas presented applicable to both environments (What’s good for the goose may not be good for the gander)?

Third thought: How much of the success attributed to the ideas and strategies are because employees feel part of a large important project that has purpose (Everyone smiles during the parade)? How much of the positive response is because workers feel that leadership is aware and concerned about them and their problems (I am important, my contribution is important and they know it)?

How many of the 25 ideas are related to communication, strategy, customer feedback, cost savings, knowledge of the industry, knowledge of the customer, agility and flexibility….aren’t all these factors inherent in a small business? In fact, without competence in these areas the small business fails quickly.

Perhaps a great idea, number 26, for big corporations would be to take a look at the core competencies required by successful small business owners, and insure that these specialties and areas of expertise are well represented and disseminated throughout their large organization.

Related Links

Crowdsourcing, a potential resource for your business


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