Successful Organisations

What makes organisations successful?

Throughout my career I have been very fortunate in that I have had some excellent mentors and colleagues. They have and continue to show me how they develop thriving businesses, sometimes under challenging conditions. I have also had the benefit of experiencing businesses not so well run. Although this was not much fun, it was a great education that I thankfully did not have to foot the financial bill for. Most of the organisations numbered between 50 and 100 employees with the biggest being 400 employees and the smallest 10 employees.

These experiences have resulted in a passion for unlocking the untapped potential that exists in most organisations. What are the common factors that enable seemingly average people and their teams to develop extra-ordinary businesses or organisations?

My definition of success here is:
An organisation that continuously achieves or exceeds challenging goal targets and 90+% of the employees enjoy coming into work each day. (We all have our bad days)

The very successful organisations have the following in common:

  • Leadership: Identifying the right things to do
  • Management: Doing things right
  • Each individual has a positive attitude, and everyone understands that it is the individuals that make the organisation.
  • A challenging long term visionbased on reality.
  • An understanding of the environment in which they operate
  • The organisation(s) have a short/medium term goal that supports the long term vision; understanding of the necessary conditions and critical success factors that need to be fulfilled in order to achieve the goal by most people in the organisation.
  • There is a well thought through strategy to achieve the vision, the strategy is reviewed and updated as needed.
  • An uncompromising demand to show measurable improvements in the organisation in relatively short periods of time.
  • Respect for others.
  • Well defined roles and responsibilities. (Not always documented)
  • An embedded culture of “Learning from Experience” throughout the organisation, this includes learning from others.
  • Embrace change and pro-actively implement change when necessary.
  • Win-Win culture
  • Talent management aligned with strategic objectives
  • There is an explicit effort to build the right culture and behaviour to deliver success

  • The unsuccessful organisations showed the following characteristics;

  • Absence of candour
  • Lack of understanding for Organisational change as the organisation grows
  • In many cases lack of respect for others.
  • Did not appear to embrace the concept of “Learning from Experience”. Assumption based on mistakes being repeated or bad decisions and policies being stubbornly stuck to.
  • Limited or no well thought through long term vision
  • No strong evidence of improvement processes
  • Do not appear to understand or unwilling to embrace change when needed
  • Win-lose culture


  • Unsuccessful organisations can usually be turned around with a fresh outlook that unshackles the mind from old paradigms while developing the skill to discover new ideas and new solutions to old problems.

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