Pop Quiz

Pop Quiz

Where does your company measure up on our Organo-Metric Index?There's no concise guide for thriving in today's economy. After all, how do you plan strategy and plot competitive advantage when the ground beneath your corporate headquarters is constantly shifting? In the absence of Barron's Booknotes for executives, here are a few basic premises: The Industrial Age is out, the Information Age is in. Intangible knowledge is more important than physical capital. Geography and size no longer rule. And the only sure-fire predictable thing about business is that nothing is sure-fire predictable anymore. If this paints an accurate picture of your business environment, then you've just taken the first step toward thinking of your business as a living, organic enterprise. Thinking organically is one thing, but acting organically is what separates market leaders from market laggards. As with any biological organism, the key to long-term corporate survival -- to say nothing of dominance -- is adapting to the surrounding environment. And adaptability manifests itself both physically and behaviourally. In other words, shedding a physical presence by going virtual is one component of adaptability. In many respects, it's an easy leap to make because the benefits of doing so are inherently obvious. Running an Internet-based retail operation is cheaper than leasing 150 storefronts in shopping centres around the country. More difficult is changing how corporations behave in addition to how they organise their operations. And as is the case with any species featured on Totally Wild, corporate behaviour results from evolved characteristics, learned capabilities -- and sometimes pure, unadulterated luck.

While luck can't be mastered, characteristics and capabilities can. How organically inclined is your organisation? Take the following quiz to find out. And once you've figured out your score, keep in mind that the results are not meant to be quantitative; the goal is to provoke thoughts on what it means to be an organic enterprise. Special thanks to Ron Ashkenas, managing partner of Robert Schaffer & Associates in Stamford, Connecticut, and Michael Rothschild, president and CEO of Maxager Technology of San Rafael, California, for their input in designing the scorecard.

Culture and Attitude

1. Employees are considered to bea. the most important source of competitive advantageb. the most expensive costs on the balance sheetc. the instruments for carrying out strategies determined by top executives2. When an idea for a new product, service or process emerges from the employee ranks, executives a. evaluate the idea based on its potential worth or usefulness b. evaluate the idea by poking holes in its validity c. turn the idea over to market research for further evaluation 3. Your main competitors are a. the companies you currently battle for market share b. any company -- foreign or domestic -- in your industry c. any company with a history of innovation and a knack for hiring smart people 4. Employees have regular access to a. all information executives deem relevant to their departments b. all but the most sensitive corporate information c. information available to any member of the executive committee 5. Communication between employees and executives a. is spontaneous and occurs whenever events warrant it b. occurs primarily during scheduled meetings c. occurs only during annual performance reviews Internal Processes and Practices6. The main source of new product and service ideas is market research a. always b. sometimes c. What's market research? 7. Employees from all departments and ranks have an opportunity to a. meet on a regular basis b. work together on free-forming project teams c. mingle by the punch bowl at the company Christmas party 8. To foster innovation, your company primarily depends upon ideas originating from a. a designated R&D department b. employee brainstorming, project teams and the like c. the executive suite 9. Compensation at your company is primarily based on a. broadbanding-or wide salary ranges b. salary plus company performance-based bonuses c. seniority 10. In the course of their careers at your company, employees a. expect to be transferred between two or more departments and/or jobs b. work in a single department with occasional job changes c. are passed over for promotion because outsiders are hired 11. An integral part of every employee's job at your company is a. doing prescribed duties as explained in the employee manual b. attending training and development programs on an ongoing basis c. faithfully executing the strategic plan devised by executives12. The most acceptable path to achieving radical change at your company is a. hiring consultants to re-engineer processes b. incrementally adapting processes in response to the business environment c. encouraging employees to come up with new ideas or change existing processes Company Capabilities13. Your company has partnerships with a. customers b. customers and other organisations in the same industry c. any constituency that helps your company achieve its strategic goals 14. Your company's digital strategy a. supports existing processes, relationships and products b. directly contradicts traditional lines of business c. exists only on paper to date 15. Your company's strategic direction emerges from a. annual strategic planning sessions attended by board members b. the person in the corner office c. scenario planning exercises performed by managers 16. Executives set goals that a. are ambitious yet have no established plan for achieving them b. are clearly defined with step-by-step milestones c. take advantage of the traditional strengths of your company Answer key Award your company the specified number of points based on your answersSection 1: Culture and Attitude1. a=2 points; b=0 points; c=1 point2. a=2 points; b=0 points; c=1 point 3. a=0 points; b=1 point; c=2 points4. a=0 points; b=1 point; c=2 points 5. a=2 points; b=1 point; c=0 points Total Culture Score_____Section 2: Internal Processes and Practices6. a=0 points; b=1 point; c=2 points 7. a=0 points; b=2 points; c=1 point 8. a=1 point; b=2 points; c=0 points 9. a=0 points; b=2 points; c=1 point 10. a=2 points; b=1 point; c=0 points11. a=0 points; b=2 points; c=1 point12. a=0 points; b=1 point; c=2 pointsTotal Processes Score_____Section 3: Company Capabilities13. a=0 points; b=5 points; c=10 points 14. a=5 points; b=10 points; c=0 points 15. a=5 points; b=0 points; c=10 points 16. a=10 points; b=5 points; c=0 pointsTotal Capability Score_____Total of all points:_________If you scored less than 2 points, your company is in code blue. Seek professional help immediately.

If you scored from 3 to 8 points, your company has the right attitude; the next step is turning the attitude into action.

If you scored from 9 to 22 points, your company is thinking organically in terms of its internal processes. Now it's time for your company to apply its organic thinking outward.

In you scored 23 to 50 points, your company is well on the road to becoming an organic company. Your internal processes are for the most part in sync with your external practices.

If you scored 51 to 64 points, your company is learning, organic enterprise.

Chances are good that your company will outlive its competitors.

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