on August 23, 2011
Good Company-Business Success in the Worthiness Era is uplifting. Business professionals have always known that Good Guys don't really finish last. This well written book documents that being a Good Employer,(stable and enriching employment) a Good Seller (customer delight and value) and a Good Steward (integrity and sustainability) is the only way to go in the decades that will get us to Mid 21st Century. The next generation of consumers will not settle for spending their precious income with Bad Guys. The real beauty of this book is the fact vs. theory approach. Anyone can make it sound noble, but Bassi and team provide facts and statistics that worthiness pays off in terms of business success. In other words, being a Good Company makes good business sense. Reading the "Good Company" scores of the Fortune 100 was fascinating; some surprises (good and bad) and "aha" moments for me as both a consumer and a business professional. Business books can be ho-hum reading, but the stories and rankings make this a fast and intriguing read.
on January 12, 2012
The book would have made a good article or dissertation. However, the main premise of the book could be summed up fairly easily.
Take care of the environment
Be nice to your employees
Don't pay your CEO too much
Don't break the law
Pay your taxes.
The book took a great deal of time telling the reader how they conducted their research. But, just in case you missed it the first three times, they told you again.
The Kindle edition suffers from problems recreating the lists of businesses.
on January 24, 2012
"Good Company ties together the lessons we're still learning from The Great Recession, and explains what's fueling the occupy movements, shows how social responsibility and environmentalism is dramatically shifting business approaches, and identifies the rising power of customers. Good Company is an inspiring and uplifting read for those of us working to bring about a values-based leadership revolution. It's fairly bubbling over with hope, optimism, and deep insights into the change tsunami washing around the globe.
Critics of this book will likely try to dismiss it as left wing propaganda describing an unrealistic utopia. I can hear these old world managers (the anti-leaders) now: "that's not the reality of how the business world works. Good guys finish last."
Unfortunately, for old school managers -- and thankfully for the rest of us -- Good Company builds many of its arguments around solid research. These are deep and profound global trends that can't easily be blown off with ideological platitudes:
=> "Nearly six in ten global consumers polled in 2009 said a company or brand earned their business during the recession because it has been doing its part to support good causes...
=> Nearly three out of four Americans surveyed in 2010 said they are more likely to give their business to a company that has fair prices and supports a good cause than to a company that provides deep discounts but does not contribute to good causes...
=> 37 percent of Americans would punish a company that doesn't actively support a good cause by sharing negative opinions and experiences, while 47 percent would not invest in such a company...
=> 84 percent of consumers in China, India, Malaysia, and Singapore say they would accept a higher price for a green product ...
Globally, 56 percent of people want a job that allows them to give back to society versus 44 percent who value personal achievement more..."
Two of the authors, Laurie Bassi and Dan McMurrer, are organization effectiveness researchers, consultants, and run an investment fund based on the principles outlined in Good Company. They used their Good Company Index to rank the Fortune 100 (largest 100 companies on the Fortune 500 list of America's largest corporations). It's based on calculating scores for Good Employer (from Glassdoor.com), Good Seller (wRatings using customer evaluations of quality, fair price, and trust), and Good Steward (environment, penalties/fines, CEO compensation, use of tax havens, and society/community contributions).
The two companies in the "highest" category were United Parcel Service and Walt Disney. About 25 companies were rated "high." Some of these included IBM, FedEx, Dell, Procter and Gamble, Best Buy, and 3M. Three companies in the "lowest" category were Philip Morris, Prudential Financial, and Sunoco. Some of the 20 companies in the "low" category included Berkshire Hathaway, Exxon Mobil, News Corp, Dow Chemical, and General Dynamics.
"When we compared pairs of Fortune 100 companies within the same industry, we found that those with higher scores on the Good Company Index outperformed their peers in the stock market over periods of one, three, and five years."
Ultimately, Good Company shows how a strong leadership culture that's serving all of its stakeholders and society pays off for everyone buying from, working for, investing in, and doing business with the company. Traditional management that's narrowly focused on serving shareholders (and usually senior executives) fails to provide sustained profitability compared to their better led peers. And everyone else is worse off.
At times the authors go over the top with unsubstantiated theories and wild conjectures about where the world is headed. Nobody can predict the future and extrapolating today's trends forward inevitably proves to be way off the mark. But they build a very strong case that good guys finish first.
Good Company is a good read with more good evidence that multi-dimensional values-based leadership takes us all to good places."
on November 18, 2011
Good Company is a book whose time has come. Laurie Bassi and her co-authors do a masterful job of defining good companies supporting their thesis that good companies are also high performing companies and supporting their conclusions with some serious analytical horsepower.
Their thesis is disarmingly simple. Because of changes in technology, economics, politics, and society we have entered the "worthiness era", a time in which employees, customers, and communities are demanding that the companies with which they do business measure up to higher standards. Consumer desires for an experience in addition to a purchase drive companies to treat their consumers better. The global economic meltdown has forced employees to rank job security more highly on their list of important employment factors, and make job decisions accordingly. And of course technology has enabled us to share thoughts, experiences, and frustrations instantly. Going viral has nothing to do with catching a cold these days.
The kicker is this: companies that do measure up in terms of worthiness perform better on financial criteria than others. This is the important finding in their book. Being a good company pays off financially. Goodness does not detract from the bottom line. It adds to it.
Bassi and her associates identify three factors that make a company good (or not): (1) how well the company treats employees, (2) how well the company treats customers and (3) how well the company treats the environment and the communities in which it operates. They measure the Fortune 100 companies on each of these three factors and develop grades, from A to F, for each company on each factor. I guess Laurie's history as a college professor is still with her!
This book adds value in at least three ways. First, and most importantly, the authors demonstrate that companies with better goodness grades outperform those with worse grades in the stock market. In other words, two companies in the same industry, say Exxon Mobil and Chevron, will have predictable differences in their stock prices, based on their goodness grades. The higher the grades, the better the stock market performance. This is groundbreaking. It reinforces the conclusion that doing good and doing well go hand in hand.
Second, their work takes into account large-scale social trends which, collectively, have ushered in a different environment for business. The Occupy Wall Street movement is a manifestation of their thesis that companies can no longer treat their customers, communities, and employees without respect and expect to get away with it. From globalization to the rising political power of historically disenfranchised people around the world (e.g. the Arab Spring movements) to social networking, mega-trends are changing the way we communicate, participate, and purchase. Companies that ignore these trends do so at their peril.
Finally, Bassi and her colleagues take great care to identify interesting and in most cases publicly available data with which to measure the goodness of companies on each of the three factors. Their book is not based on expert opinion or on telephone surveys. It is based on data from hundreds of thousands of people who have registered their views with organizations such as glassdoor.com and wRatings in addition to more traditional measures such as the Fortune 100 Best Places to Work. They use sophisticated analytical techniques to grade each company on each criterion so that we may have some confidence that their ratings are not going to change overnight.
Of course the book is also full of practical examples of companies, good and not-so-good, for those of us who look for examples and justifications. Their work is meticulously documented yet highly readable. The book will be valuable to anybody who cares about worthy treatment of customers, employees, and communities.
on November 25, 2011
Laurie Bassi and co-authors have established criteria and rating of Fortune 100 as Good Companies, launching a market-based direction for corporate citizenship in "the worthiness era". While executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders should know what drivers will distinguish their companies beyond financial performance, I suspect even greater impact may come from middle managers, professionals and rank-and-file employees absorbing this material.
As the Occupy Wall Street movement has identified, many people have lost faith in companies and are highly suspicious of corporate integrity. (Not surprisingly, those rated lowest by the McBassi team will be familiar targets for low public opinion, in financial services, oil and gas industries.)
While publicly available metrics support the analytics in Good Company, the clarity of the underlying message could ignite revolutionary thinking with employee groups and teams. They will find guidance and strong evidence here, should they wish to pull attention and commitment from colleagues.
Reading this book, my hand raised in a fist above my head, a couple of times. I'm inspired to make sure my own company a good one.
on August 29, 2011
Some great business books build on great stories. Some business books build on excellent data analysis. The book, Good Company: Business Success in the Worthiness Era, is one of the few business books that builds on both - great stories and excellent data analysis. The major strength of the book is that it delivers on its title showing companies and nonprofits how to improve in this new era. This book is a guide for managers, CEO's and employees of large and small companies, entrepreneurs, and those who work in enterprising nonprofits. The book not only promotes careful analysis of your own organization's situation, it also guides the reader with facts and figures to gain the confidence to put the practical lessons of this book into place right away. It is not surprising that this book has four authors as the book seems to combine their experience, their research, their analysis, and their joint commitment to improving how business is done in the United States and the world. Congratulations to the publisher, Berrett-Koehler, for publishing this significant, valuable book.
on September 2, 2011
It's intuitive that companies conducting business in a responsible way would build superior brand equity and enterprise value. Good Company provides compelling research findings in support of that idea. Laurie Bassi and her co-authors make the case that being a good employer, seller, and steward pays off.
I particularly liked the Good Seller chapter, in which the authors set out simple principles that build customer loyalty and brand preference. "Restraint," one of their principles, really resonates at a time when the shadier forms of mortgage loan origination and securitization of the housing boom are once again in the news. Taking advantage of the naivete of others is no way to build long term value. Conversely, this book shows, focusing on providing a great customer experience and dealing honestly is how to increase enterprise value.
Good Company is a great airplane read--very thought-provoking, interesting, and actionable.
on September 7, 2011
Good Company raises the bar that In Search of Excellence set nearly 30 years ago.
"Search" advanced the notion that the best run companies focus on their people and their customers. Good Company says that's good but not good enough because a new combination of forces requires companies to be good to their people, their customers and they need to be stewards of their communities. When they do, they win. When they win, they're able to do more good.
At a time when all too many business books are little more than a regurgitation of old ideas, Good Company offers powerful research, lively stories and a gutsy rating of the Fortune 100 companies that's apt to improve the business world...for the good.
on August 3, 2011
Good Company issues a challenge for executive management in both the private and public sectors. The combination of economic, social and political forces are leading us into new territory which the authors have dubbed the Worthiness Era. Good Company is a well researched book and provides an excellent vehicle for corporate debate about future directions and what should be the most effective criteria for measuring and evaluating enterprise results in the tomorrow's competitive global world of trade and business. Easy to read with some interesting insights into some of our leading organisations. A breath of fresh (clean) air. Well worth a read.
on November 23, 2011
As someone who writes from a generational framework, I find particular importance in the overarching messages and recommendations carried by this terrific book.
Extensive original and secondary research informs my understanding that part of the current zeitgeist driving companies toward "good citizenship" is a generation of enormously powerful consumers, now maturing into a stage of life most committed to legacy and purpose. Baby Boomers over-represent the market niche called "Lifestyles of Health & Sustainability," and LOHAS consumers -- one-fifth of the U. S. adult population -- have very high expectations for the companies they embrace and extend loyalty.
Representative businesses created by members of the Boomer generation include Whole Foods, Starbucks, Apple and Patagonia -- four companies committed not only to shareholders but, as importantly, to stakeholders: employees, vendors, communities and nations. These companies demonstrate one of coauthor Laurie Bassi's central messages: "You must do good in order to do well." These stalwart brands have done well because "doing good" is fundamental to corporate mission and culture.
LOHAS Boomers vote with their money, and they expect their money to be invested by "good companies" toward purposes beyond profits. This powerful niche, which also greatly influences mainstream value consensus, expects relationships with brands that instill pride of association -- companies helping solve larger problems besetting humanity and society.
I recommended "Good Company" for its profound insights into the mindset of social and environmental responsibility that govern today's best companies. This book presents an articulate and interesting exploration of what a good company means now. The book provides a glimpse of salvation for those companies not quite there yet. It further presents lucid arguments to challenge inevitable short-term naysayers who prefer to please Wall Street and maximize profits over purpose. (As the book aptly illustrates, this kind of thinking is so 20th century.)
You'll be in good company with this book: four thought-provoking authors and 264 pages of engaging erudition.