It’s always easy to look at other organizations – or other people – and marvel at their incredible foresight, acumen, and investment. To look at some of the most successful companies and their products – Apple and Google come to mind – and say “They were just lucky” is too easy, and unlikely.
Few people think of the many failures of these successful organizations, and the sometimes-connection between the failures and later success. Remember the Apple III? Or the Apple Newton? Or Google Wave? Or Google Buzz? These have been easily eclipsed by the iPhone, iPad, Google+, and Android.
What are the drivers of their success? Here are a few that come to mind:
- Hire smart people, then invest in them so that they grow.
- Network and develop relationships with complementary organizations and people.
- Allow some free time for innovation, beyond the present corporate goals.
- Take risks, accept failure, but learn from it.
- Focus on the market and adding value to it; it’s too easy to be transfixed by what you see in the rear-view mirror.
There are a number of other factors (capitalization, IP ownership, etc), but these five success factors have one thing in common: people. In fact, most recruiters in the tech world lament about the war for talent. And some tech companies are being valued not on sales or profitability, but on the number of engineers.
This week’s action plan: While it may be tempting to look elsewhere when things are not going particularly well, don’t: these five factors apply equally at the individual level. This week, choose one activity: invest in yourself, network, innovate, take risks, and focus on the market instead of yourself. When you do, you will be taking one step in making your organization more successful… and also yourself.