This third blog completes “The Success Factors Blog Trilogy” series. A technology company consists of a number of functional groups which, in turn, are made up of individual contributors. The trilogy defines the main success factors associated with these 3 elements: the individual contributor (first blog), a founding team (second blog) and finally, the company as a whole (third blog). In order to have an outstanding outcome for any venture, all three elements must accomplish their respective goals and objectives effectively.
I believe that the most fundamental pillar of a successful organization is the company CULTURE. Culture should be embedded within the very DNA of the company and the people that work within it. It is the glue that binds and connects all elements of the business. It defines the values that employees of a corporation exhibit both in dealing internally with each other, as well as in their external dealings with suppliers, partners and customers. Below, I have highlighted a list of core values and attitudes that are the key elements of a winning culture.
- Unified vision - A company must have a single high level vision that is embraced by each employee in order to be successful. Michael Jordan, arguably one of the most successful basketball players in history, demonstrated this element best when he said “single team single dream,” in reference to the Chicago Bulls team success.
- Winning can-do attitude - A can-do attitude makes complex tasks appear more manageable. Conversely, the opposite is also true – a poor attitude can make a complex task insurmountable. Collectively a team must come together to accomplish the overarching goals of any organization. When examining winning teams in the NFL, NHL and NBA you’ll find that a few teams tend to have more consistent and successful records than others. These teams experience higher win to loss ratios than their competitors as a result of their cohesive optimism.
- Innovation - For a company to endure and grow in a competitive market place, it is essential for all functional groups in the company to embrace the “Innovate or Die” approach. It is valuable for a company to always look forward and search for new ways to reinvent itself to remain highly competitive and current.
- Transparency - Information sharing must be carried out by all levels of the organization starting with the leadership team. Leaders should make their work tasks and progress visible and available to all members of the team. It is simply a case of a cause and effect exercise; sharing information with the company’s employees on a regular basis and in a transparent fashion (Cause), will create a well-informed, motivated team that can embrace the vision (Effect).
- United front - Each person on a rowing team can have their own style to prepare for the race but once in the boat, they must row in rhythm, with the same vigor, and in unison in order for the team to be the first across the finish line. Similarly, each person in the company is unique but must present a common front externally.
BizGuide # 23 - Are you with us?
Truly successful companies have the ability, as a team, to handle disagreements during a debate and then reach a consensus at the conclusion of the discussion. Scott McNealy, the visionary CEO and cofounder of the computer technology company Sun Microsystems said it best when he coined the quote “Disagree and commit; agree and commit”.
In context, the process of decision making is made up of two parts; the first being during the discussion where a decision is reached and the second one is after the decision has been made. During the first phase, it is the obligation of the company leadership to open the floor to contribution of ideas from all participants irrespective of their “rank” in the company hierarchy. In turn, the individual participants must contribute to the debate. When the discussion is over and the decision has been made it is the duty and obligation of each person on the team to embrace the outcome and support it without reservation.
You can find an interesting perspective about this principle in: http://jesusgilhernandez.com/2014/11/28/amazon-13th-principle-have-backbone-disagree-and-commit/
Stay tuned for more of the guiding principles and anecdotes that have directed me through my career of growing startups through to successful ventures.
Edited by Jamie Keeley, Event and Community Manager, L-SPARK.