As we attempt to see how certain characteristics of a successful business can also apply to our government bureaucracy, let’s continue to learn what those business characteristics may be. In the previous article, seven of ten characteristics of a successful business were covered. According to Neil Ducoff, Ten characteristics of a successful business (Strategies, March 24, 2014), the first seven included Leadership, Business Culture, Financial Literacy, Structure & Systems, Skill Development, Everyone sells, and Work Environment.
With reviewing these seven characteristics, how do you personally reflect those qualities at work and home? Consider how you see our government embracing them, if at all. Let’s cover the final three characteristics.
Characteristic #8 is Compensation. This is one of the most hotly debated topics. “Commission, Team-Based Pay, fixed rate, sliding scales, product/service charges, or independent contractor – there is no one right way that will serve the needs of all.” Yet, a compensation program must achieve these goals—(1) Inspire and reward the right performance and behaviors. (2) Fit the financial reality of the business. If left unchecked, it can be destructive and kill the company. (3) Provide income growth for employees. When employees can grow and achieve their full potential, a business succeeds.
Characteristic #9 is Brand Identity. “. . . businesses fall into one of three categories: nondescript, blends in, or stands out from the competition. Nondescript businesses are just bland places. There’s nothing about the facility, signage, logo, print materials, service or personality that makes the “wow” meter show signs of movement. There’s nothing overly special. Businesses with strong brand identities . . . It’s a complete package, from web site, print materials and phone experiences to its facility, décor, team personality, execution of work and all those special touches that radiate success.” All previous eight characteristics must be there to have a strong brand identity that endures.
Characteristic #10 is Community Service. A successful company gives back to the community. “Community service comes in many forms, from fundraising to employees donating personal time to a worthy cause. Business success simply does not appear complete if it’s all about making money and generating profit. A business, no matter how profitable or magnificent, is never truly successful without a warm heart and sincere compassion for the wellbeing of others.”
All together, these ten characteristics create a standard for success and define profitability that outdoes their competitors at just about every level. Businesses each have a particular product or service and design their business to target that market share. When it comes to government, maybe we should look a little deeper on what defines “profitability.” Does it only mean “making a profit,” or can it mean something more than just money? Maybe, we should include simply balancing the budget as something profitable, just like every family needs to in order to stay out of overwhelming debt?
When it comes to our nation’s government, that market share is actually all of us as citizens, not just some. That brings us to our government clearly defining its purpose and mission. What do our nation’s founding documents tell us? And how in the 21st century do we apply those principles and guideposts?
Just as with a business plan, purpose, and mission, our nation’s founding documents and laws give us principles and guideposts to follow, along with a budget that reflects them. Many questions now arise. What then should our government support in services to our nation’s citizens and how much should be allocated? What services are considered essential to everyone’s safety, including care for the most underserved?
As you reflect on these questions, here’s an assignment for you. Review each characteristic and write down in what ways you see these ten characteristics boosting our nation’s bureaucracy? In what ways, will these characteristics improve efficiency, effectiveness, and profitability?
And if we tend to not see our government being run to achieve a profit, how about let’s further define “profitability” as actually recording and reaching a balanced budget? In the next article, focus will then be on our nation’s $20 trillion debt and where it is taking us.