This blog originally published in Printing Impressions.
Characteristics of top-performing companies cover a broad range of areas. While very few are exactly like, it been my experience that they do share many similar themes. These characteristics are woven into the fabric of who they are and how they operate. They are not from a textbook, but from real life, and are based on the people they have, the markets they have chosen, and the range of services they have elected to provide. What are some of the characteristics they share?
A key characteristic of top-performing companies is that the leadership team works as much on the business as the people in the business. Face it, it’s easy to get sucked into the day to day activities and be the chief problem solver or decision maker. Unless you are the sole proprietor and you do in fact wear all the hats, doing this may feel good, but it’s not as effective as one might think. You likely have hired folks to deal with these issues who that are qualified to make these decisions. If you are involved because they are not effective, then you need to re-think their position in the company. At the end of the day, if no one is spending time working on the business, then the ending of the movie never changes, and you will be the recipient of a reactionary business model whose fate is only influenced by outside factors. The takeaway is that as a leadership team, be more proactive than reactive.
Definable realistic strategy
What’s the plan? It may be a one-page business plan or an extensive strategic plan that was developed off-site with the help of a facilitator. Either way, it’s a plan that can be defined and articulated to stakeholders. A common issue that I often hear from my printing company clients is “we have a communication problem.” That often originates from the top, and trickles down to the process-procedure-execution stage of the operation. Define your plan, your strategy and make sure that your stakeholders know where your bus is headed, when it’s leaving the station, and what their role is.
Embrace change to re-write the rules and make their competitors irrelevant
For anyone who has read “Blue Ocean Strategy,” this is indeed a page out of their case studies. Knock on doors, meet, greet, quote, hope, win, or lose – then do it all over again tomorrow. Top performers have moved past this model and have created a focus that differentiates themselves from the others, and in fact, raises the barrier to entry by the services and deliverables they bring to market each day. These businesses are competitive to the market on price, but typically more profitable than most. This is done by re-thinking how they do business, embracing and applying new technology to their workflow, and narrowing the scope of the customers they will work with. As one client mentioned, “It’s hard to be a world class manufacturer if you’re trying to be all things to all people.”
Take the strength of a strong leadership team that is aligned to the vision and the values of the business, add a strategy that is well defined and articulated to the team, have a culture that embraces change and uses it to re-write the rules, and surround that with technology that is being applied to solve problems and drive revenue – take all of that, and apply it with a laser like focus to building customer success. There’s a lot to unpack there, but hopefully you can grasp the power of connecting these dots to make your business a top performer, and the one that everyone wants to work at and work with.
I’ll continue next week with a few more characteristics of top-performing companies. In the meantime, if you have something that is working well for you or comments on the subject, please include them below. Good luck and remember, doing nothing is not an option!
Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Printing and Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic advice, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.com, LinkedIn or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.