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One Essential To Building Great Organizations

Most of the leadership books I read about organizational development forget to mention the one essential to building great organizations. Perhaps it’s too obvious.

Three things that don’t make organizations great:

  1. Great people don’t automatically build great organizations. It helps, but I know lots of great people who end up sucked into the black hole of a lousy organization.
  2. Great purpose doesn’t make an organization great. Many organizations set out to make the world better but die in the town of their birth.
  3. Efficiency doesn’t make an organization great. You can be efficient at doing things that don’t work.

The essential thing:

Great organizations have leaders who work on the business, not just in it.

15 practical ways to work on the business:

  1. Aspire to build an organization where people love coming to work.
  2. Maintain an outward focus. Great organizations serve themselves so they can better serve customers. Sick organizations sink inward and die serving themselves.
  3. Prioritize people development.
  4. Engage everyone in building effective and efficient architecture. Don’t work in isolation.
  5. Blow something up once in awhile.
  6. Experiment, evaluate, and adapt. Try something small and see what happens.
  7. Eliminate secrets. Practice transparency with kindness.
  8. Remember to make a profit.
  9. Communicate values and vision over and over and …
  10. Expand yourself by bringing outsiders in. Connect with other leaders and industry experts.
  11. Identify and celebrate culture. “This is the way we do things around here.”
  12. Enjoy the journey, even as you nag about what’s next.
  13. Overflow with gratitude, even as you explore how to be better.
  14. Hold yourself and others to high standards.
  15. Bring up elephants and pick at scabs with forward-facing curiosity.

One more thing:

Work on personal development. Personal transformation precedes organizational transformation.

How might leaders work on the business?

What are the three most useful suggestions in the above list?


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