Company First? pt. 3

Within a company, what is the most important aspect… the people, the idea, the products or the company itself? 

On Monday we asked this question. On Wednesday we went deeper on this idea of “Company First.” The reality is that companies that last are built when the company becomes the paramount and most central idea. 


The people matter. 

The ideas matter. 

The products matter. 

After all, great companies are filled with great people, great ideas and great products. Yet, these great people, great ideas and great products are gathered around a central mission: to keep the company alive and thriving. 

I think of the great battles fought throughout history. As soldiers take their position on the battlefield, their only thought is of victory; beating the enemy before the enemy beats them. 

Are they scared? Yes. Are they concerned for their own well-being and the well-being of those who rely on them? Of course. 

However, when bullets begin to fly, thoughts and actions return only to the mission. Their side must win. 

Business is war, so to speak. 

The people matter… greatly. The ideas matter…greatly. The products matter…greatly. 

For the purpose of building the company. 

The people must take care of the company. 

The company must take care of the people. 

Win, win. 

Company First? pt 2

Within a company, what is the most important aspect… the people, the idea, the products or the company itself? 

On Monday, I asked this question followed by using a quote from the book “Built to Last” by Jim Collins. In this quote, Collins states, “Be prepared to kill, revise or evolve an idea, but never give up the company.” 

So, you can give up the people? 

You can change the idea? 

You can adjust the products? 

Yet, the company remains. 

Where is the fidelity in this? 

This is a hard realization to come to: Company first. 

As the world evolves to become more equitable and inclusive, putting the company first seems archaic. 

However, based on history and data, building a company that lasts for the long haul requires putting the company first. 

People come and go. Ideas come and go. Products come and go. The company – based the core beliefs and values – remains. 

It’s not about you… or me. 

And that’s not an easy pill to swallow. 

Company First? pt 1

Within a company, what is the most important aspect… the people, the idea, the products or the company itself? 

Let’s see what Jim Collins, author of “Built to Last” has to say: 

“Luck favors the persistent. This simple truth is a fundamental cornerstone of successful company builders. The builders of visionary companies were highly persistent, living to the motto: Never, never, never give up. 

But what to persist with? 

The company. 

Be prepared to kill, revise or evolve an idea, but never give up the company. 

If you equate the success of your company with success of a specific idea – as many businesspeople do – then you’re more likely to give up on the company if that idea fails; and if that idea happens to succeed, you’re more likely to have and emotional love affair with that idea and stick with it too long, when the company should be moving vigorously on to other things. 

But if you see the ultimate creation as the company, not the execution of a specific idea or capitalizing on a timely market company, then you can persist beyond any specific idea – good or bad – and move toward becoming and enduring institution.”

Culture versus Process OR Culture as Process.

Why talk about culture? Can culture truly be defined? 

When working with teams, often they get caught up in the friendliness – or lack of friendliness – of the dialogue in decision-making. If there exists dysfunction, consultants are brought in to help a team work together in ways that reduce dissonance. 

Leave the dissonance alone. Dissonance – in life and in music – can often be a very good thing. 

Instead focus on the process of decision-making. 

For example: 

  • Set the agenda before the meeting 
  • Keep the ideas in front of the group using a flip chart or white board 
  • Focus on IDEAS. (Leave the details for the project manager and their team.)
  • Leaders should help clarify the debate 
  • Summarize 
  • Test for consensus 
  • The best idea wins out 

This is an example. 

The point I am making is this… it’s not culture OR process. Rather the culture is the process. 

When making decisions, focus on the process not the people. 

14 Steps of Resilience Execution

During times of crisis, disruption, change or adversity, what steps should organizational leaders be taking? Is there a clear process to execute through crisis that will guarantee organizational resilience? 

Start with the 14 Steps of Resilience Execution (adapted from the Harvard Business Review’s article “September 11, 2001: A CEO’s Story” by Jeffrey W. Greenberg) :  

  1. Communicate the facts… and only the facts 
  2. Assemble a team 
  3. Use existing plans in place and improvise where needed 
  4. Outline primary concerns
  5. Establish a communications center 
  6. Gather hard information
  7. Recruit outside help 
  8. Face reality…personality and organizationally 
  9. Provide support where needed 
  10. Communicate, communicate and communicate even more 
  11. Take a full assessment… then communicate the assessment 
  12. Deal with the business at hand
  13. Allow time for processing and/or grief 
  14. Take care of your team members and families  

These steps will ensure resilience for your team and organization during and after periods of crisis, disruption or adversity.