The 3 “C” Formula of an Enduring Firm
There are many variables attributed to success; however, I believe there are three critical C’s that are foundational if you want to build a business that survives and thrives beyond you (for several hundred years). The same applies if you want to thrive as a professional too.
The 3 C’s are Simple, and I pose them as questions for you to think.
What is the culture in your organization? Every organization has a culture even when they have not defined it explicitly. We do not pay enough attention to this at the start and even as we grow as we think it is irrelevant. Peter Drucker had said “Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast”. Uber had a very toxic culture, and this led to the ouster of ex-CEO Travis Kalanick.
Ask these questions “Do I/we have a culture to experiment? Do we have a culture of high quality?” There are several questions that you can ask on this front and start by defining the culture you want to build.
Do you see change as an opportunity or Do you see change as a risk?
I have written on this topic previously that one of your key roles should be that of a Chief Change Officer. Change will happen and the firms that embrace and adapt to change will thrive. Think about the change that has happened in your personal and professional life over the last 30 years. How has it impacted you?
In early 2000, Blockbuster, the biggest video rental business in the US, had the opportunity to buy a small company for a pittance. Blockbuster refused as they did not see Change coming. The Blockbuster CEO and Board thought they were too strong to fail and the business who had come to them was too small. The Business was Netflix, and it was the best performing stock of the last decade. On the other hand, Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy in 2010.
- Competitive Advantage
What is the source of your competitive advantage? Is it still relevant? If not, what are you doing to gain competitive advantage? I will leave you to ponder over these questions but first you must also think about who your real competition is. Most firms in our industry have no clear understanding of their competition or competitive advantage. Everyone is not your competition. If you think everyone is, then you are highly mistaken and are missing on opportunities to collaborate for scale.
To sum up, you and your business need all these 3 Cs to thrive in the decades ahead.