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Wyoming Business Tips for June 7-June 13

May 26, 2009

A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center, part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.

By Diane Wolverton, WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz state director

"I want my company to be one that lasts -- not just through the economic downturn but for a long, long time. What do I need to know?" Adrienne, Jackson

In their classic book, "Built to Last," authors James Collins and Jerry Porras articulated seven distinguishing characteristics of the world's most enduring and successful companies.

The authors came up with these characteristics after studying a group of exceptional companies that have weathered the test of time (average founding date 1897) and compared them with good, but not great, companies. This revealed a framework for visionary leadership that lasts -- a framework we can emulate within our organizations today.

Here are the seven characteristics of visionary companies:

-- More than profits, core ideology: An organization inspired by a set of ideals, not just dollars.

-- Preserve core and stimulate progress: f an organization is to meet the challenges of a changing world, it must be prepared to change everything about itself, except its basic beliefs, as it moves through corporate life. The only sacred cow should be its basic philosophy of doing business."

-- Big hairy audacious goals (BHAG): A true BHAG is clear and compelling and serves as a unifying focal point of effort-often creating immense team spirit."

-- Cult-like cultures: A sense of belonging to something special.

-- Try a lot of stuff and keep what works: An evolutionary progress that usually begins with small incremental steps or mutations, often in the form of quickly seizing unexpected opportunities that eventually grow into major-and often unanticipated-strategic shifts."

-- Home-grown management: A process for developing and mentoring leadership from within the organization.

-- Good enough never is: Institutionalizing the question: How can we do better tomorrow than we did today?

In "Built to Last," Collins and Porras debunked the myth that visionary organizations are merely a result of visionary leaders. Instead, they described visionary organizations emerging from a visionary culture co-created by the individuals within the organization. This is incredibly empowering because it means every member has a critical and active role in creating and sustaining the culture.

Does your company have what it takes to last through hard times and beyond?

A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments is available at

The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, e-mail or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY 82071-3922.

Posted on Tuesday, May 26, 2009

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