What makes a Winning Organization?

By January 18, 2017 March 19th, 2019 Evolve Insights

As it appeared in the Daily Nation on January 17th 2017

Sports is a good reminder of what winning and losing looks like. Sometimes individuals and teams win, sometimes they lose. When I think of winning in organizations, I do not necessarily think of those that lead in their industry or those that generate huge revenues or mega profits or those that have numerous customers. I think of organizations of all sizes that are making quick wins every day, I think of organizations that are becoming better at what they do, I think of organizations that do what they said they would do.  Many such winning organizations might not have a trophy with their name inscribed on it but they know that they are adding value to their customers, employees, shareholders and to the community.

Is yours one such winning organization? Are you preparing to win?  Will your actions in 2017 make your company closer to becoming a winner? These are important questions for any business leader and business owner. Most, if not all of those in business would like to see their organization win. They would like to see them win over their customers, employees and shareholders generation after generation.  When we come to the end of 2017, some companies will have lost or will be on the losing streak, some will have barely won while others will have won big and many might be on the winning streak. Winning, whether in sports or in organizations is never easy. It takes commitment, effort and grit. It requires preparation.  Organizations that consistently win are rare!

I had the opportunity of working in an organization that has been seen as a winning organization for decades. For the three years that I worked at Walmart, I was fascinated by its culture, by its superb supply chain management, its structure and its focus on employees and customers. It was an exciting opportunity that lingers on to date. We often wish our organizations would be on the winning streak.  The main question we need to comprehend is what exactly makes a winning organization?

As I have interacted with various organizations both as an employee and as a consultant, it has been evident that people make all the difference. These people are found in leadership both at the board level and at firm level, in the front-line and in the back office. They are everywhere in the organization. Many football enthusiasts know too well that even winning clubs have the right mix of people, they prepare to win and when they lose, they learn.

Today, businesses are operating in a complex and dynamic environment both internally and externally. Internally, there are many upheavals relating to employees, to products, value systems, to pricing, to operations etc. Externally the marketplace is extremely competitive and there are changes in customer needs, in technology, in regulation etc. To win, organizations need to adapt rapidly, align the environments and manage the downside of changes happening in and around them. This can only happen if the organization’s leadership and its people alike know where their organization is headed and prepare well-enough to get there. Both long-term and everyday decisions and actions such as hiring, training, restructuring, firing, customer experience improvements, marketing, budgeting, policy guidelines, technology advancements, process reengineering, introduction of new products and others should be aimed at preparing our organizations to win. Is your organization preparing and playing to win?

Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy