Four habits of highly effective companies

Rosabeth Moss Kanter: a desire to make the world a better place drives corporate innovation and growth like no other force.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

The fallout of the Icelandic volcano on world travel and business was totally unexpected, and it's likely no business on the planet had considered the possibility in its risk management scenarios.

That's why adaptability is such an essential part of business these days. And the businesses that are best able to deal with volatility and uncertainty are those that have the deepest commitment to positive change.

That's the message from Harvard professor and business author Rosabeth Moss Kanter, who is headlining this week's IBM Impact conference in Las Vegas, which I'm attending. Among businesses these days, there is an emerging class of what Kanter calls  "super corps" (with the "p" and "s" pronounced) -- organizations "capable of performing what once would have been larger-than-life feats in a greatly reduced time frame."

Kanter described the four characteristics of super corps:

1) Strong sense of purpose and value: "If you want to change the world, you better have a strong sense of purpose and value at the heart of your enterprise," Kanter says. Many Fortune 500 companies are heeding this call -- for example, Proctor & Gamble is committed to improving the planet through "purpose-inspired growth." Pepsico "wants to make itself a healthy company."

2) Innovation of a very imaginative kind: Kanter urged companies to move from "thinking outside the box" to "thinking outside the building" -- to "look far out into the community, into the world" for new ideas.

3) Partnering: Super corps develop and nurture strong partnerships with customers, suppliers, and communities. "We can't do anything of importance in the world without a network of partners."

4) Self-integrating: People in organizations form their own informal networks. An organization dedicated to improving society will spur innovation and inspiration, thus "networks will be held together in a common purpose."

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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