Best-Kept Secrets of the World’s Best Companies

In Secrets of Greatness: Advice from the World’s Top CEOs and Entrepreneurs (2006), a volume created by the editors of Fortune magazine from previously published material. Eleven journalists share twenty-five of what were then among “the best-kept secrets” of what were then among “the world’s best companies.”

Here is the list. Check out read a brief but insightful discussion of each (Pages 61-79).

1. Compare/contrast everything you do with what your rivals do. (Hewlett-Packard)
2. Create a lending library of ideas. (IDEO)
3. Appoint official devil’s advocates to challenge the merits of deals. (Toro)
4. Use office design to keep the queen in touch wsith tghe worker bees. (Bloomberg)
5. Keep a constant eye out for trouble. (Colgate-Palmolive)

6. Bring in experts to help spark new ideas. (Corning)
7. Take no stake until you earn it. (Honest Tea)
8. Turn the interview process into an all-encompassing tryout (Southwest Airlines)
9. Let employees choose their leaders. (Gore)
10. Turn going-through-the-motions meetings into no-holds-barred debates. (P&G)

11. Reward workers for keeping their hands off the merchandise. (Mean’s Wearhouse)
12. Determine pay using just two factors: profits and seniority. (Egon Zehnder)
13. Used prediction markets to tap hidden knowledge. (Microsoft)
14. Let workers speak their minds. (Google)
15. Use kickbacks — only the legal kind — to attract executive talent. (SAIC)

16. Keep retirees in the labor pool. (Intel)
17. Let the customers do the marketing. (Mozilla)
18. Turn employees into trend spotters (Urban Outfitters)
19. Head off shareholder trouble before it starts. (Coca-Cola)
20. Start each day with a lightning-fast, all-hands briefing. (UPS)

21. Get the directors out of the boardroom. (The Home Depot)
22. Seek brutally honest feedback from customers. (Medtronic)
23. Pass cost savings on to those who achieved them. (Whole Foods Market)
24. Neutralize your customers’ worst fears. (Honda)
25. Become your own customer. (Guitar Center)

Obviously, many (if not most) of these may not be appropriate for your organization but all of them stress the importance of having strong relationships with those on whom its success depends.



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