The 10 Elements of a World-class Company

Highly successful organizations have certain definable qualities in common. These universal distinguishing characteristics separate good companies from great companies.

Each of these qualities, these pillars of a great company, is as important as the others. Together, they create the culture of the organization.

The following are the 10 pillars of a world-class, winning company. Rank your company on a scale of 1–10, with 10 being the very best you can imagine:

1.      Communication (Your Rank _______)

Business is “a network of communication against a background of relationship.”  [R1] Great companies operate with exceptional communication. They state the truth with passion. They create more light than heat.  All communication, whether internal or external, is honest, clear and on purpose.

2.      Mission (Your Rank _______)

A great company demonstrates its values and mission, day in and day out. Every person, with every interaction, creates a “moment of truth” that reflects the company’s core values and furthers its mission.

3.      Relationships (Your Rank _______)

A company is its people. And a great company puts people first. It embodies a community of dedicated, trusted and talented people. It places the right people in the right jobs. A world-class company is driven by an attitude of cooperation its people can feel.

4.      Authenticity (Your Rank _______)

Uniqueness and individuality not only enable a company to stand out from the crowd—they are integral parts of its personality. World-class companies have a strong identity, character and position.

5.      Vision (Your Rank _______)

Employees, customers and stakeholders want to be part of something bigger than they are. They want to know where they’re going and have a picture of what’s possible. An empowering vision is the mission personified.

6.       Customers (Your Rank _______)

Without the customer, the company cannot exist. Providing the customer with what he or she wants and providing it consistently and dependably is essential to creating and maintaining a world-class company. Customer-driven companies always deliver what they promise—and deliver even more when they can.

7.      Stewardship (Your Rank _______)

All great companies know that taking excellent care of present and future resources is essential. These resources may include people, capital, tools, equipment, the environment and intellectual properties. Great companies know they have an obligation to care for and not squander any of their assets.

8.      Stability (Your Rank _______)

A world-class company can endure 100 years or longer. To do so, the organization must be able to preserve core values but be willing to change cultural and operating practices, goals and strategies. Dependability and consistency are paramount in building a great company.

9.      Production/Productivity (Your Rank _______)

There’s no business unless someone DOES something. The ability to produce and do so effectively and efficiently is essential in a world-class business.

10.   Excellence (Your Rank _______)

Excellence is more easily experienced than described. You know when it’s there and when it’s not. A commitment to constant improvement is evident in every organization that has earned the right to be described as world class. A great company brings all its resources to bear to deliver impeccable products or services.

This list is only an overview of the universal distinguishing characteristics found in world-class companies. Based on this summary, are you where you want to be? If so, hats off to you. If not, what are you waiting for?

With thanks to Michael Angier,