The Focus Course

The Characteristics of a Successful Company

As I’ve mentioned, the half-day Basecamp event in Chicago had a huge impact on me. It has given me much food for thought in terms of how to create an entire company that has margin.

My experience working for organizations — large and small — is that things are generally disorganized and everything is urgent all the time. Ugh.

As a business owner, I want a company that is calm. A company that does not squander its employee’s time but gives plenty of space for long hours of uninterrupted work. And as a leader, I want to empower my whole team to do their best work and to assume they can do that in a reasonable amount of time without expecting them to sacrifice from their home life.

Imagine working in a company that had margin!

Imagine a place where everyone had the breathing room they needed to do their job well. Imagine if employee’s time wasn’t squandered by those in management and leadership. Imagine if people long hours of uninterrupted time to focus and weren’t constantly responding to seemingly urgent issues.

This is possible. And I would take that environment over one with a free snack bar any day.

Building a company that protects the time and focus of its employees, is not so much about the culture. It’s more about having certain characteristics in place that help define the way a company runs.

The Characteristics of Predictable Success

Per the recommendation of my friend, Nathan Barry, I picked up the book Predictable Success.

I’m not too deep into the book yet, but so far Les McKeown is reading my mail.

What has stood out to me the most so far are the McKeown lists as the five characteristics of a company that sees predictable success.

Below I’ve listed them out with paraphrased quotes directly from the book.

1. Decision Making
The company has the ability to readily make and consistently implement decisions.

There is a sense of flow — where the decision-making process is not a burden and the greater focus is actually on the execution of a decision once it is made.

2. Goal Setting
The company has the ability to readily set and consistently achieve goals.

There is not a sense of helplessness — rather, people respond to the company’s goals and everyone is able to help move things forward.

3. Alignment
The company’s structure, process, and people are all in harmony.

This means that the way the company is organized, the workflows and processes that are in place, and the people within the company, all work together with little friction or frustration.

4. Accountability
The company’s employees become self-accountable, in addition to being externally accountable to others.

This is the most powerful characteristic, because when the employees are empowered to make decisions and are also given the resources and freedom to execute on those decisions, then each person begins to buy in to the success of everyone’s activities. This also means there is little room for time wasters, pencil pushers, or “politicians” because everyone has real work to do and they are excited to do it.

5. Ownership
The employees take personal responsibility for their actions and outcomes.

And as a result, the business grows because everyone is working together and everyone is pulling their own weight. This also allows the managers and leaders to do what they need to do, which is to actually innovate, think ahead, and serve those doing the day-to-day work by giving them the resources and freedom they need to do their best work.

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