Friday, June 14, 2013

How to capitalizing the capabilities from the start

The topic for this week is "Looking In the Mirror—Internal Organizational Analysis". The meaning of the topic is that there are really intangible powerful strength within an organization which is hard to directly measure, but they played a vital role in the success of the company. That kind of power within the organization is stable over time and has a high barriers for the competitors to copy. One example is the case of Southwest Airlines that their main strategy is the well known low price but only them can execute their low cost strategy in every aspect of their business --- from the high routes of the flights between small cities to no specific cleaning crew. 

In the article there are 11 elements: talents, speed, shared mind-set and coherent brand identity, accountability, collaboration, learning, leadership, customer connectivity, strategic unity, innovation and efficiency. These 11 points are all great but we have to admit the truth we can only focus on the limited points (2-3 at most usually). The reason is the same with we should put our attention and resources to the most important area.

Because I have no full time working experience before so may not have that deep understanding of the possible impact. But one onsite interview at Amazon really gave me a direct impression on that. Through out the process, I can see the each and every employee at Amazon has showed their talents as an employee and as a part of Amazon. For each round of interview(I had 2 rounds of phone interviews and 5 rounds of face-to-face interviews), I asked them about what would make a great Amazonian, all of them told me to put customer experience at first. When I was talking with the manager on the team, when told me of what are valued at Amazon about the 14 rules of leadership, I can feel the glows and passion from him. Passion is not that hard to find, but for the company as big as possible, the execution and the consensus they reached among their employees are phenomenal.

So if we want to build our own company, how can we achieve that kind of valuable & powerful strength within the company? I think the main idea is still about focusing on each hiring. When each new hires has good quality, with the team building inside the company, I believe there will be strong multiple forces within the company.

There are four phase of expanding the company: founding team, first few hires, original core group & scale up. So before the scale up process, the CEO should have the interview with each employees to ensure they are a good fit on both the technical and the social aspect. A not enough fit on either aspect should be a serious things to consider in the hiring decision. 

Just as I pointed out keep the organizational strength is relatively easy when the company is small. When company grows big, usually the executives would try to ensure the social power of the company by top-down pattern. We could see many failures cases in this area in the real world (Amazon example is rare). Can we find better ways to keep the original power when the company scales?

1 Capitalizing on Capabilities (Harvard Business Review)
2 Lean Entrepreneurship - recruiting team members

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