The road to organizational wellbeing is filled with healthy people making, selling and distributing stuff that others value and pay for. Any of you that doubt this should just look at the top ten companies on the 2014 CEO Connection® Mid-Market 500 list*.
Organizational wellbeing looks a lot like personal happiness. The secret of happiness is that happiness is good. On a personal level, this involves three goods: good for others, good at it, good for me. At an organizational level this is about providing the context for people to do their absolute best together to realize a meaningful and rewarding shared purpose. These are the same ideas.
Meaningful/Good For Others
The most successful organizations are rooted in providing stuff that others value. The most successful start-ups start by solving a previously unsolved problem. Leaders of start-ups know they must lead differently as their teams grow. They start here, focused on others – potential customers.
Do Their Best/Good At It
Strategy is about the creation and allocation of resources to the right places at the right time in the right way over time. This is all about doing what you’re good at as an organization and investing to get better and better at that to build and expand your competitive advantage whether it’s in designing, building, selling, delivering or supporting.
Rewarding/Good For Me
Rewards come in all shapes and sizes. Some value salary, benefits, bonus, long-term incentives, equity. Some value future gains. Some value recognition. Some value the psychic rewards from making an impact on the world around them. No matter which is more important to your organization’s stakeholders, there needs to be a pot at the end of the rainbow.
In general, you don’t want to get caught in the middle. Large companies with scale make money. Small companies that can command a premium price for their innovative products or services make money. Most in the middle aren’t strong enough to command a premium price or large enough to be the low-cost provider. Those caught in the middle lose money.
However, the mid-market is where innovation meets scale. These are the 20,000 companies in the US having annual revenues between $100 million and $3 billion and generating about 1/3 of the US gross receipts. These companies used to be small and are passing through the middle on the way to being big. They are the future.
Of the top ten companies on the Mid-Market 500 list, three make stuff like electronic components and equipment, two are in healthcare, two are in financial services and the remaining three are in retail, energy and marketing. Companies like these are on the road to organizational wellbeing. They’re not caught in the middle, they are passing through the middle as their leaders inspire and enable others to do their absolute best together to realize a meaningful and rewarding shared purpose.
We can learn a lot from the companies in the mid-market. They have moved beyond the heady days of being an entrepreneurial start up. They have figured out how to turn their founder into an executive (or gotten him or her out of the way). They have figured out how to scale their initial innovations without breaking the organization.
Implications for your organization
Find your calling. If you’re called to make stuff, do so. Otherwise, spend your time and talent enabling others to make, sell and distribute stuff that still others value and pay for whether you do so by providing them infrastructure, services, outlets or keeping them healthy. Innovate and then scale. Then we’ll see you on a future CEO Connection® Mid-Market 500 list on the road to organizational wellbeing.
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*Note George Bradt is a principal of CEO Connection.