Once again, Fortune magazine has issued its list of the world’s most admired companies (Caroline Fairchild “The World’s Most Admired Companies” March 17, 2014, pp. 123–130). The top ten on the list are names we have all heard:
Additionally, certain names associated with high-tech and the Internet appeared such as Samsung Electronics (21), Microsoft (24), Facebook (38), Intel (47), and Cisco Systems (49). Carmakers definitely had a presence too, with BMW (14), Toyota Motor (25), and Volkswagen (36). Of course certain household products companies and major retailers posted a strong showing, including Costco Wholesale (12), Proctor & Gamble (15), Nordstrom (17), Johnson & Johnson (19), Wal-Mart Stores (28), and Target (29).
Given that we might have a natural skepticism about anything that smacks of a mutual admiration society, Fortune’s methodology was impressive. Here are just a few of the many steps in the complex survey process:
“Our survey partners at Hay Group started with about 1,400 companies: the Fortune 1,000. . . . Hay then selected the 15 largest for each international industry and the 10 largest for each U.S. industry, surveying a total of 692 companies from 30 countries. . . . To arrive at the top 50 Most Admired Companies overall, Hay Group asked the 3,920 respondents to select the 10 companies they admired most from a list made up of the companies ranked in the top 25% in last year’s survey, plus those that finished in the top 20% of their industry.” (p. 130)
And that is just scratching the surface of the process! The outcome is a benchmark that all companies and professionals should find useful as they continue to aspire to excellence.
As I reflect on the most admired companies, it occurs to me that every company on that list has probably achieved greatness by focusing on three things. They continuously refine their products, their processes, and their people. Those three categories cover all aspects of any organization.
Especially important is knowing that you cannot focus on just one or two of those categories. Doing so will ultimately bring failure. You need all three pieces of that puzzle–products, processes, people–for sustainable authentic success.