Building and Sustaining Great Organisations

12 - 13 October 2021


With the continuing uncertainty over coronavirus we have decided to postpone this conference which was scheduled for Athens. However, we would still like to run the event in October. The plans are at this stage, to run a smaller, truncated event in London with just one overnight stay. Should we not be able to run this event ‘in the flesh’ we will run an online event.

What is a ‘great’ organisation? How do you know you work for one? What can you do if your organisation isn’t ‘great’ today, but you’d like it to be? These are the questions we will be looking to answer.

While the average shelf life of companies has greatly reduced over the last few decades, there appear to be enduring characteristics that mark out those organisations that deliver sustained high performance over the long term. Many researchers have developed models describing the distinguishing features of ‘great’ organisations. Although their methodologies and conclusions differ, there are a number of common themes. Great companies tend to have:

• A clear purpose and values beyond making money: they develop and maintain an aspirational purpose/ mission, an economic model of the business, a set of core values and norms of behaviour that are broadly communicated and understood.
• The ability to be ambidextrous: optimising the core while developing new lines of business.
• Openness to the outside world: the ability to sense changes in the external environment, see and exploit opportunities before others. Continuous monitoring of the environment by a large number of people in the organisation, not just a select few
responsible for strategy.
• Strong customer orientation: they maximise the surface area of the organisation that’s in contact with customers, and make it easy for decision makers to receive information about customer behaviour and respond fast to changing customer demand.
• An organisation design that enables fast, informed decision-making: autonomy and devolved decision-making, even in large complex organisations. They don’t allow organisation complexity such as matrix management to bog people down.
• A distinctive culture that supports innovation and experimentation: tests are constantly being run and evaluated. Failure is accepted as a legitimate outcome of experimentation and a vehicle for learning. Learning is applied to future experiments.
• Organisational resilience: the ability to bounce back from setbacks.
• Change viewed as ‘normal’ and ongoing: not something to be endured on a periodic basis.
• A culture where people can flourish: the rhetoric of investing in people is backed up by leadership commitment and action.