An organization that has formed well, laid all the systems, and defined the roles and responsibilities of focusing, achieved the engagement and commitment of its members, established effective training, and maintains ongoing communications with its customers and stakeholders, resulting in a sustained upward trajectory of excellence supplemented with effective use of 5S, visual management, and value stream mapping can truly be said to be a world-class organization. This is an organization that deserves to celebrate its success! However (you knew there was going to be a “however”), just because a company is great doesn’t mean that it will stay great. As evidenced by some of the 11 companies highlighted in the bestselling book Good to Great (Collins, J.C. 2001. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t. New York: HarperBusiness), Circuit City took a spectacular nosedive into oblivion; Fannie Mae also ran well off course during the great recession. My point here isn’t to judge; I’m not qualified. The point to be made is the same disclaimer found within every company’s stock prospectus: “Past performance is not indicative of future results.” As we pointed out at the beginning of our Stage 4 (Sustaining) discussion, only 20 of the Fortune 100 Best Companies of 1960 made the 2010 list. If an organization is going to stay the course over the long term, it must regularly reinvent and renew itself. Without renewal,
organizations can’t regenerate, adapt, and reinvent themselves. In a very real way, organizations are living organisms.