Sustainability is challenging for most businesses because of several factors – competitors, the economy, and changes in the overall market landscape. A business that has been around for years may now find itself struggling to survive. An interesting article by Mark Perry of The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) analyzes the list of Fortune 500 companies from 1955 and 2016; only 60 of these companies still exist today. Some of this is due to mergers, others had poor sales that ranked them lower on the list, and some just went out of business. He also noted that prior to 1995, only manufacturing companies were on the list but that has now expanded to include service companies. Even with this change many companies are no longer on the list.
Regardless of the size of the company, leaders need to be flexible enough to not only be proactive in the way they do business but also nimble to be able to shift if need be. Many of these large corporations still operate with very stringent and lengthy processes which is not conducive to even making small tweaks quickly. In addition, these corporations place employees in boxes (organization chart) with defined responsibilities that may be alright for some roles but does not allow some employees to use other skills and talents which could be capitalized on. By having a more “fuzzy box” type organization, senior leaders could identify other strengths of an individual and have them work more cross functionally and even move to another area quickly or on an as needed basis.
Even the hours a company keeps seems to show their age. I find it interesting that if you call the headquarters of most major corporations after 5:00 pm you get an automated service with a dial by name feature or they tell you to call back tomorrow. In such a 24/7 world that we live in, why do companies think everyone works just 9 to 5? This also happens within the workplace. Some employees would be better working odd hours but again the old 9 to 5 mentality is still in place.
When was the last time you reviewed how sustainable your company or department is? What processes and/or attitudes should be tweaked or eliminated all together? It may be a good time to consider hiring an outside consultant who will be able to provide an objective viewpoint.
Other “S” words to ponder – support, savvy, solution, strategic, scrappy, serve, straightforward, success, synergy, and sell.