What makes a company great?

What makes a company respected, special or important? Any ideas? If you’re up for a challenge – please answer the following three questions this week. I’ll be relaying the most informative answers back to IBM’s global marketing and communications group, who are interested in knowing your thoughts. Please leave your name, position and company details if you can (or email jasmin at wonderwebby dot com) and feel free to use video or other media to respond :) I look forward to reading the responses!

1. What company or companies do you most respect? Why? What makes them special and different from others?

2. Has “what’s important” changed over time? Did you respect different companies in the past? Why? What has changed?

3. What makes a company great? What characteristics are most important? How would you describe a truly great company?

Update: More opportunities to share your impressions of IBM over here on LinkedIn – and your experience at IBM overe here on the Greater IBM Connection

7 thoughts on “What makes a company great?

  1. wonderwebby

    Hi Jason – yes know the book – thanks for the recommendation :)
    I would love to hear your thoughts about the companies you personally think are great too – and why!

  2. Yura

    Are you asking about opinions from the point of view of employees or customers?

    At any rate, in no particular order:
    – openness to critique and any opinions (at least listen, do not ignore). Love Dell’s Ideastorm.
    – good relationships between employees (people, not slaves)
    – aiming to create the most value and innovative in that (Apple?)

    Actually, those work well for either employees or customers, I guess, though.

    1. Apple, for innovation in delivering what people want. In fact, that’d be Steve Jobs, because he rules there.

    In the early days, Google, for being open, helpful and just being a great tool. Nowadays, they allow slip ups and various anti-Google sites (like Gevil.org) spring up, ran by people, who were their loyal followers.

    I’d probably add Jive here, but only on the merit of delivering value in collaboration.

    2. Partly answered in above.

    Technically, not much has changed. Desire to see companies treat people like people, not cannonfodder, is pretty constant.

    3. A truly great company would:
    (in addition to the above 3 points):
    – take risks in delivering value to the people
    – really research what people want and give it to them
    – practice the Keep It Simple, Stupid principle
    – be open, amicable and socialize both online and offline (honest blogs from high-profile company representatives, such as CEO, build great trust with the people [and also increase sales, but that’s another topic]).

    The larger a company gets, the harder it is for them to keep up. Maybe they shouldn’t grow? :)

    Of most, I admire Apple for getting ahead of what people wanted and delivering brilliantly. Then again, who doesn’t admire Apple nowadays, so perhaps there you have the secrets to success :)

    As for IBM, they need to be more noticeable in doing the above. Actively promoting collaboration might help. They might as well read the “Getting real” book by 37Signals.

    Oh right. I am Yura Filimonov, Web Creator (a less formal, but more useful Internet marketer) for Effectize, a custom Lotus app development company.

    Cheers

  3. michael martine

    what an inteiguing topic for a pre-boarding flight time.

    There are several companies that are ‘great’ in my bol, and the book good to great is most certainly a good read.

    Apple is an example for me — just read iWoz in the past week, and can see how a company founded on making such a real difference in bringing computing to the masses has and continues to be great. Continuing on my iPhone… The apple products I’ve used actually do delight me, and they simply work. How amazing is that!

    BMW is another such great company — the way that the associates are treated, and certainly the way that they have forged such a connection with their customers from BMW Manufacturing in Spartanburg, SC.
    See http://www.bmwroadsterhomecoming.com for the example of the passion that their products ignight in their customers, and how for the past 11 years, bmw associates have given up their labor day holiday to repair the cars they built.

    IBM has the hallmarks of a great company as well, living into the values uncovered through the global values jam. Innovation that matters really speaks to me, and there is nothing that ibmers cannot do when they get together. Global success and mutual investment in one another’s success happens all the time — and how I know Jazzydee!

    Excellent design, excellent people and a committment to the client really shows.

    Plane is about to depart, so I must end…
    Full disclosure… Michael Martine IBMer from Research Triangle Park, NC USA

  4. Duckboxxer

    What makes a company great, a deep question. First, whose perspective? Customer, employee, potential customer, competitor, investor, future partner? Next, I can respect parts of a company: products, innovation, business model, philanthropy, customer service.

    For greatness from a customer perspective: quality. Both products and people. I don’t mind paying a little more for something that will withstand. I’m on my third VW; I love my Bunny. Safe, low maintenance and fun to drive. From what I’ve seen it will last forever (assuming no unplanned contact with solid objects). I’ve always had quality work done at the dealers too (the lone exception: Tallahassee). The local dealer here drilled holes in my bumper and installed my front license plate for free (no front plate needed in NC).

    At times it is hard to see the company for the individuals. I refuse to shop at one particular clothing chain because my first experience was such a bad one that I wrote the company. They were very apologetic and sent a gift certificate. Still won’t shop there.

    What’s important? Some things don’t change: customer service. My phone died. AT&T overnighted me a new one, I took my old one put it in the box they sent with the label they sent, and left it at my door for UPS to pick it up. Things happen, it’s how you fix it.

    A great company? Respect. From customer, industry, employees and competitors. But the key is how do you earn that respect. Quality work, good people, solid business practices and respecting others. Age, size, lots of money or products in every home do not mean respect.

  5. Vasundhar

    Being Global, yet local
    Company can be spread across the globe, but when it comes to resolving problems it should be local

    Respect
    Should Respect the Clients, Employees

    Recognition
    Should value customers,employees without Bureaucracy.

    Clarity of Direction
    Each Move company takes , should be felt by any one and every one associated with it.

    “Getting Employees to Fall In Love With Your Company” Its an art.

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