What makes an organization sufficiently resilient to survive over a sustained period of time?

In 1983, Royal Dutch/Shell Group studied 27 companies that had survived more than 100 years, were still important in their industries, and continued to have strong corporate identities.

One key finding was that leaders of these organizations believed it was important to leave their organizations in as good as or better shape than when they became leaders. These leaders also put a higher priority on people than on assets. Keeping the community of people who worked at the organization together was more significant to them than the type of work they did. In fact, each of the 27 companies had changed its business portfolio at least once. For example, the chemical company DuPont began as a gunpowder company, and Mitsui of Japan began as a drapery shop before it moved successively into banking, mining, and manufacturing.

Effectively, these leaders thought of themselves as trustees or stewards who had a responsibility to the current and future members of their work communities. (read more…)

The Young Entrepreneur Council is an invite-only organization composed of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. Read previous SmartBlogs posts by YEC.

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Q. What is your advice for including all employees in the process of setting companywide goals?

yec_Simon Berg1. Give employees a hands-on role

At Ceros, we follow The Rhino Principle, which is largely based on Agile, a software development method used extensively by the development community. Within each department, employees help determine the goals of each seven-week sprint and the tactical steps needed to achieve them, giving them a hands-on role in determining what their specific goals will be and how to attain them. — Simon Berg, Ceros

yec_Adam McDaniel2. Treat employees like athletes

Athletes are driven by lofty, usually year-end, goals. (read more…)

“If you want to have clean water, send it through a filter,” a sales executive said recently. He was discussing the new deal desk function at his company, which consolidates and organizes information for non-standard deals, and makes decisions to keep the sales process moving. “We need visibility and a way to understand the impact of our decisions for non-standard deals. Our deal desk also helps us identify trends.”

Deal desks have been used by sales organizations for several years, but are gaining popularity because they create efficiencies in the sales organization and offer creative solutions for customers. In a recent SalesGlobe survey, 70% of companies had a deal desk in their sales organization; but nearly 30% of respondents had not yet heard of a deal desk. The deal desk function is making a difference for companies by providing a mechanism to support non-standard deal requests and is having a noticeable impact with adjacent activities – like pricing and contracts — that support the deal process. (read more…)

There is no shortage of articles about the troubles at Yahoo, which today has its quarterly earnings announcement. The core problem is the lack of a “big idea” that would represent new consumer offerings or dramatic changes to existing products that would generate genuine consumer excitement.

Unfortunately, Yahoo has basically been following a “me-too” strategy. Facebook and Google went big into mobile ads, so Yahoo eventually announced its efforts in this area. Netflix and others became huge in video streaming, so a couple of years later, Yahoo decided to spend $100 million on video, only to write off $42 million recently as the effort faltered.

Is it possible for big companies to find and achieve big success behind big ideas? You bet! Let’s look at two that did just that recently.

Ford F-150

Over the past couple of years, Ford made a bet on a key modification to its highly successful F-150 line of trucks. (read more…)

“I just don’t trust him.”

So said a senior leader of a peer recently during interviews I conducted to learn more about their organization’s culture and how their leadership team operates.

It’s a message I hear all too often when working with executive teams. The demands placed on senior leaders cause them to act in ways that help their functional areas — accounting or manufacturing, for example — even if their behavior causes issues with their peers’ functional areas.

In some cases, it’s not the demands of the organization that cause leaders to demonstrate self-serving behaviors, it is simply the way they are personally wired. In other cases, the organization has actually rewarded the senior leaders’ self-serving behaviors.

recite-13f73r6Let’s agree on what we mean by workplace trust. One of the most commonly cited definitions is from Mayer, Davis, and Schoorman (1995), who define trust as “the willingness of a party to be vulnerable to the actions of another party based on the expectation that the other will perform a particular action important to the truster, irrespective of the ability to monitor or control that other party.”

In simpler terms, trust means that I have confidence in another person’s actions with no guarantee of any desired behavior in return by that person. (read more…)