In Growth & Profit

Guest Post: Glenn Van Ekeren is the President of Vetter Health Services in Omaha, Nebraska, a company committed to providing “dignity in life” for seniors.  Vetter Health Services owns 32 long term care, assisted living, and independent living facilities in the Midwest.  As President, Glenn helps to insure the company’s Mission, Vision and Values is consistently lived throughout the organization.

Good enough has become the enemy of great.  Routine has become the enemy of desire.  Easy has become the enemy of sacrifice and hard work.

                                                                                    Kevin & Jackie Freiberg

I’ve Been Thinking. . . about what it takes to continually move a company to higher levels of excellence.

How can a company go from ordinary to extraordinary?  Why do some companies seem to remain “average” forever while others are on a continual quest to be exceptional?  What are the time-tested, secret, practical business philosophies that could transform a company?

In the book, CEO Road Rules: Right Focus, Right People, Right Execution, 50 CEO’s of primarily privately held companies were interviewed.  The success patterns the authors observed in their interviews and in their work with entrepreneurs and mid-size companies fall into three broad areas:

Right Focus (having a clear and concise mission, vision and values along with knowing what you can be best at);

Right People (attracting and retaining talented and emotionally intelligent people and providing them coaching and rewards along the way);

Right Execution (defining key result areas and measures, implementing your plan and “living the values” while holding everyone, accountable for results).

In my humble opinion, the authors ‘nailed’ a simple, strategic approach for attaining greatness.  In short, pursuing great is about selecting a visionary set of ambitions and expectations aligned with a compelling mission and values, engaging the commitment of dedicated people and developing an aggressive plan and set of actions that position us to become exceptional.

First off is focus.  World Class companies are renown for being passionate and steadfast in living their principles and flexible in the continual review of how they do things.

Southwest Airlines understands the pursuit of world class.  Their mission is “a dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit.”  Southwest was conceived as a company who would attract passengers in secondary cities with a fun low cost option.  The company deliberately decided to fly only 737s to save on maintenance, offer no assigned seating or booking (the part I don’t like), and hire only fun people who made flying an experience different from what people were accustomed to (the part I do like). 

That is their simple business strategy and needless to say, it is working quite well.  Interestingly enough, Southwest has decided to buy new, larger planes.  When asked about the change from their long term decision to fly 737’s, the company responded it was good to challenge their long held processes to find something better.

Every organization must identify strategies that work for them.  It’s not about trying to duplicate other’s efforts, or being something we are not or pursuing angles outside of our mission, vision and values.  It is about determining what we believe is critical to our success and maintaining the course.

In next week’s post, we will examine the importance of having the ‘right people’ and the ‘right execution.’  Stay tuned!

laser focus


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