10 ways to know if your business is sustainable for the long term

10 ways to know if you business is sustainable.
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By: Todd Feldman
Founder & President
Rocket Factory
 
In the book Flock Not Clock, Cornell University’s Drs. Laura and Derek Cabrera state, “The network structure underlying groups and organizations of all types is conducive to a systems approach based on complexity science. This is because collectives of individuals, no matter how structured, are complex adaptive systems.”
 
I couldn’t agree more. And you probably do as well.
 
And yet, organizations across the globe fail to meet their true potential because they don’t understand how to operate as ‘one’ rather than a collection of parts. The pandemic has served to be the ultimate stress test to prove this concept.
 
The difficulty often lies in knowing how and where to begin.
 
As I reflect on what’s driven my career and the work we’re doing here at Rocket Factory, I’ve come to (finally) articulate what’s required for commerce sustainability.
 
It is imperative to take a holistic approach to strategic planning and execution with a clear understanding of the role an organization plays within the community outside their walls and within a broader economic system for which they operate. It’s greater systems-based thinking that unlocks the true potential of any organization.
 
Creating a meaningful understanding of what it means to be sustainable for the long term can be identified from an analysis of 66 easy-to-understand scenarios we’ve developed here at Rocket Factory.
 
This, finally, is the place to start.
 
Here are Rocket Factory’s 10 sample scenarios to know whether you’re built for the long term. If you answer “maybe,” “kind of,” or “not really,” you’ve got a bit of work ahead.
  1. Top-down, everyone in our company can recite our promise to the market we serve (aka Brand Promise) and understand how their role connects to it. Please note that this is not the same as your mission, vision, and values.
  2. We have a culture of collaboration and lack silos.
  3. Sales and marketing are compensated on shared metrics. Give yourself extra credit if they are in the same department.
  4. We celebrate mistakes and failures just like we celebrate “wins.”
  5. We prioritize learning and compensate and/or promote people as they apply what they’ve learned directly to the business.
  6. We actively hire leadership roles from outside of our industry.
  7. When our teams meet to go over key metrics, they’ve created analysis from the same numbers.
  8. Technology investments are made with both business and IT stakeholders “at the table.” Give yourself extra credit if you do not have a separate department for technology.
  9. The head of marketing manages investments from a P&L.
  10. When we do strategic planning, we never say, “we can’t do that because…”
 
These scenarios are based on our forthcoming service product called SmokeTest Scenarios. If you’d like to explore this concept further by rating each on a scale of 1-5, get started for free here.