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