Best Practices

NetWork Kansas: Three Traits of Great Companies

Published May 12, 2014

By Corey Mohn | Apr 9, 2014

I just finished reading the book "Great by Choice" by Jim Collins and Morten H. Hansen.  Part of a popular series of well-researched business books, "Great by Choice" focuses on the differences between what the authors refer to as "10X" organizations (those that consistently outperform their market over a long period of time) and competitors in their industry.  Researching a period of more than twenty years, Collins and Hansen determined 10X companies shared three key traits:

1.  Fanatic Discipline

2. Productive Paranoia

3. Empirical Creativity



The one finding that has stuck with me that relates to all three of these traits - a finding that initially was counter-intuitive to me - is that 10X organizations self-impose the discomfort of holding back in good conditions.  In other words, when times are good and opportunities allow for rapid scaling to reap immediate rewards, 10X organizations intentionally take the foot off the accelerator.  This baffled me.  After all, shouldn't you grow as much as you can when you have the chance?

I had to step back to appreciate the broader context and comprehend the lesson. At NetWork Kansas, we are truly blessed to work with the entrepreneurs we do and have funding streams to assist small businesses trying to start and grow. Because of our connectivity to an amazing array of resources, opportunities abound.  Yet somehow, in that vast and enticing environment, NetWork Kansas remains true to its core mission, vision and values.  That has meant killing pilot project ideas because they stretched our core competencies.  That has also meant killing project ideas because they were too big, too fast.  Sometimes staff members kill these ideas during the brainstorming process, other times our Board of Directors redirects us.  These are all examples of applying the brake, allowing all of us to diagnose the situation and stay aligned.

So what's the bottom line?  People energized by their organization's mission, vision and values are apt to take risks to get big wins when times are good. (After all, when you feel energized and empowered, you want to make a difference right now!) Sometimes our positive energy leads to actions that can leave us overextended and vulnerable when chaos strikes. Being purposeful and deliberate can actually serve as a different energizer; energy derived from knowing you will be around to make a difference for years to come!

Content contributed by Corey Mohn, NetWork Kansas. NetWork Kansas is a proud affiliate of U.S.SourceLink, America’s largest resource network for entrepreneurs.