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John Maxwell Team

John Maxwell Team Certified Member

Priscilla Archangel is a John Maxwell Team Certified Coach, Teacher and Speaker.

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    Amazon

    The World’s Most Admired Company Is…

    According to Fortune’s 2016 report of The World’s Most Admired Companies, which surveyed over 4,000 executives, directors, analysts and business insiders; Apple again commands the top spot on their list, for the 9th consecutive year! It’s followed closely by Alphabet (Google), and Amazon. With a track record like that, we’ve got to understand the ingredients to their success.

    First, it’s important to know that the attributes used to determine this ranking include quality of products, quality of management, innovation, long term investment value, talent attraction, financial soundness, corporate asset use, social responsibility, and global business. A well rounded set of criteria that considers all facets of the business.

    Photo from Fortune

    Photo from Fortune

    Apple CEO Tim Cook was interviewed by Adam Lashinsky to get his take on their phenomenal achievement, as well as how they’re handling criticism of recent fiscal first quarter performance, which was strong, but missed investors’ revenue expectations. His response provides several tips as a good reminder for leaders in any organization.

    1. Block out the noise.  

    Analysts, media, shareholders, and others will always have some comment or critique about your products or services, but be selective about who you’re listening to. You can’t react to every question or criticism. You can’t be all things to all people. A prime example is their recent issue with the U.S. government on providing access to encrypted information on an iPhone. Whether you agree with Apple’s position in this situation or not, overall, you must evaluate every option and potential product or service based on the next point.

    1. Focus on your mission and vision.

    Cook talked about staying focused on “making the best products that really help people enrich their lives in some way.” So do your mission and vision inspire and excite employees and customers? Does your product or service continue to align with your purpose and the areas where you’ve been successful? Or does your company get distracted by what I like to call shiny objects alongside the road. You know, getting caught up in the latest trend, trying to do what other companies are doing, or letting financial goals be the primary driver to all decisions. Which leads to point three.

    1. Identify balanced metrics

    Cook says he’s driven by the data that shows his customers are happy.  And while recent sales didn’t meet analysts’ expectations, they still sold 74 million iPhones at a profit of $18 billion. The temptation to chase profits is HUGE, but most businesses need to take the long view and invest in their future, build a strong internal and external brand, and be known for the quality of their products and services; along with maximizing performance in the immediate term.  What metrics best reflect your organization’s goals, market positioning, customer and employee needs?

    1. Explore the possibilities

    Apple has a primary focus on innovation and is widely rumored to be working on a car project. While Cook would neither confirm nor deny that, he did admit that the DNA of the company includes curiosity around a variety of product options that align with their mission, and deliberately selecting a few to pursue. Their cash position makes this easy of course. But they approach it from a perspective of exploring technologies and different ways to use them to align with the focus on making great products that help people.

    How Can You Become Most Admired?

    So your company or team may not be quite as big as the 1,500 that were considered for this top 50 list. But you can still be greatly admired by colleagues in your industry, geography, or organization. Consider the following questions.

    • What are you doing to ensure you are a great place to work, and have the best talent for an organization of your size, geography and industry?
    • Do you have the right management team to lead you to the next level, or are you prioritizing loyalty, mediocrity, or family members above talent?
    • How are you ensuring high quality products and services?
    • How does your organization leverage its head, hands, and heart to support social causes?
    • What is the global impact of your products and services?
    • How are you innovating? What are you exploring that will make a substantial difference in your business or its operations?
    • Are you making decisions that will ensure the financial stability of your organization?
    • How are you managing and maximizing your corporate assets?
    • What are you doing that would make others want to invest in you and your organization?

    Addressing the items on this list may be a challenge for some organizations, but doing so is a reflection of implementing a level of organizational discipline necessary for success. And success is what is most admired.

    ***

    Korn Ferry was Fortune’s survey partner for this project.

    To read the interview of Tim Cook, go to http://fortune.com/tim-cook-apple-q-and-a/

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    Who’s In Your Garage

    There’s a story that someone once asked Bill Gates where his greatest competition was. The expectation was that he would mention another major high tech company competing for the same business.  Instead, Gates said he was more worried about two guys in a garage; quite the antithesis of the presumed response. Why should he be concerned with two guys in a garage?

    Because there are people like John Nottingham and John Spirk, who founded their namesake company in 1972, in a garage (several years before Microsoft was born).  After graduating from the Cleveland Institute of Art, they declined offers from well-respected and established companies to instead strike out on their own and form their namesake company. Their objective was to design products using a different business model.  Instead of creating products and then trying to sell them to other companies or customers; they invited companies to bring their product predicaments to the Nottingham Spirk Innovation Center.  They then engineer solutions for these companies and receive payment in the form of royalties on sales, or a flat rate up front.

    Today they’ve moved from the garage to a converted church building in Cleveland, Ohio, where with a small team of 70 people, they’ve amassed over 900 patents to their credit. This includes repackaging Purell hand sanitizer, developing the Twist and Pour paint can for Sherwin Williams, developing Dirt Devil products, Scott’s Snap Lawn Spreader, the Unilever Axe Bullet, Swiffer SweepVac, and the Crest Spinbrush.


     

    Garage Thinking

    One obvious question is why companies like these weren’t able to solve their product dilemmas internally.  My guess is that they needed an external perspective and focus; literally, someone to help them think outside their corporate box or mindset. They needed to be able to think like they were in the garage by starting from the beginning and taking a fresh and different approach.

    Think about it. As leaders, how many times have we had a product or process dilemma where we needed a simple, but elegant solution? We come at it from every angle we can think of. We brainstorm, use mindmaps, and other elaborate problem solving techniques.  But when we casually mention the issue to someone totally unconnected to our organization, they quickly come up with a new perspective on how to solve it. Sometimes their suggestion is so simple that we initially dismiss it, because after all they don’t understand the complexities, rules and processes of what we do. But in reality, the customer needs uncomplicated answers, not encumbered by the back office complexity of how we got there.

    Sometimes we find a need for this in our personal lives. How many times have you been thinking though a major decision, or wondering how to handle a situation.  You labored with it, until one day you mentioned it to a friend, loved one, coach or even a total stranger.  Maybe they only asked you one question, but it was so perceptive and insightful that almost instantly, you had the answer. You knew what to do.

    The Magic of a Garage

    So back to the two guys in a garage.  There’s a slew of companies that started out in the proverbial garage like Amazon, Disney, Apple, Hewlitt Packard, Google and Harley Davidson. A couple of guys and gals, slogging through a problem that no one else perceived as a problem or took the time to resolve.  They took risks because at that point they had nothing, so there was nothing to lose. They had few predispositions as to how their project should operate because it had never been done before. There was no bureaucracy or lengthy decision making process impinging on their activity.  The boundaries of imagination were wide, and the possibilities for development and integration of technology were unlimited.

    Sometimes, in the midst of all the business challenges and demands on our time, we need to find time to become two guys in a garage.  Find that spot where we can innovate, concentrate, create, and view situations from the perspective of a learner to come up with an answer.  Or find a few people on our team who can work on the issues without being encumbered with an expected solution; who can innovate, inquire, and integrate to arrive at the best answer. So who’s in your garage?

     

    Read the Forbes article for more information on the Nottingham Spirk Innovation Center

    Photo courtesy of IStockphoto

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