About 500,000 new companies are formed every year in the US alone. That’s half a MILLION companies, half a million people taking a chance. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, of those companies, about two-thirds of survive 2 years in business, about half survive 5 years, and about one-third make it to 10 years. Beyond that, maybe a handful will go on to become what Jim Collins and Jerry Porras refer to in Built to Last as “visionary companies” (3M, Marriott, Disney, etc.).
In Built to Last, Collins and Porra compare some of these “visionaries” to other organizations within similar industries in order to see what characteristics distinguish them. They tackle several myths related to what makes a company go beyond good or even great.
These same truths can be applied to whatever you’re working on, whether you’re starting your own company or simply wanting to be the best employee/entrepreneur/innovator you can be.
Here is a look at some of my favorite squashed myths.
More Than a Great Idea
I love the title of this chapter: “Clock Building, Not Time Telling.” Let that sink in a moment.
The very first person who figured out how to tell time was amazing, but the person who built the first clock created something that would last beyond their lifetime.
There is a myth out there that all you need is one great idea to start a successful company, but that’s just not true.
What you are building is the company itself, and that cannot be built around a single idea – especially not in the rapidly changing world we currently live in. Ideas come and go, but you want to build something that will survive an ever changing marketplace.
You’re either in or you’re out, and there seems to be no middle ground.
Or how about this one?
A visionary company tolerates mistakes, but not ‘sins,’ that is, breaches of the core ideology.
I have only worked for total of six companies in my career thus far, one of them being the Walt Disney Company. Let me tell you: they are not taking any chances when it comes to corporate culture.
But while they are known for their rigorous training, to the point of “brainwashing,” that mentality is something we should all strive for – to create an organization so clear on its goals and values that no one ever doubts what they’re about.
Never. Good. Enough.
There was absolutely nothing wrong with telling time using a sun dial; it was simple and surprisingly accurate. But then came analog clocks… and then digital clocks… and then who knows what other simpler and more accurate device is coming our way. The point is that people could have stopped at sun dials, but they didn’t.
Same rules apply to you/your industry.
While you should always strive to be the best in your field and at what you do, if you are interested in making the leap from good to great to visionary, it’s important that you constantly look for new ways to deal with old problems. Settling should never be an option.
We should all aspire to be visionaries! Remember that it takes more than one great idea; it takes an unyielding passion and determination to always look for ways to be better. What are you working on right now? Read this book, apply these ideas… and then call me so I can help you make it happen!