An Enduring Business versus a Successful Business -- What are the Misconceptions?

At the beginning of this month, Rebecca Morgan published an interesting book for manufacturers entitled Manufacturing Mastery: The Path to Building Successful and Enduring Manufacturing Businesses. This book is a dynamic guide for manufacturing leaders who want to develop a realistic, progressive, and responsive thinking process that enables success. It provides a business operating system framework that is the foundation for connecting the many pieces of a manufacturing business into an effective, profitable operation. Rebecca walks through the elements, relationships, capabilities, and mutability 21st-century manufacturing requires. 

When I spoke with Rebecca recently, I asked her: "What are leaders’ biggest misconceptions about an enduring business versus a successful business?" Here is her complete answer:

Most of us consider a business successful if it is profitable. And if it’s profitable over several years, it must be enduring. But endurance isn’t simply a run of profitable years. It is the result of intention and commitment.

Businesses that endure focus on a mission that matters, not on building a bigger today. Perhaps that distinction is why so few manufacturing businesses stand the test of time.

Of course, an enduring business earns profits to fund its future but distinguishes accounting profits from strategic profits. They focus not on maximizing profits, but on leveraging profits in alignment with core values to accomplish the mission. Earning, saving, and investing strategic profits facilitate forever. Maximizing today’s profits does not.

Endurance requires growth. Not the financial growth that many view as success. Growth for the leader and every employee. Relationship growth with all five constituencies. Growth in value provided. Growth of capabilities, of thinking, and sometimes into a more evolved mission. 

Successful companies are profitable today; businesses that last are continually perceived as integral to a healthy future. That confidence does not reflect technical capabilities, but rather attitude, exploration, and sharing, and true partnering to develop expertise in anticipating and addressing opportunities. 

A significant distinction is the commitment to serve the mission by always preparing the organization for passing the company baton to the next generation of leaders. “Don’t drop the baton” is very different thinking from “if it hits the ground, we’ll just run a different race.” 

That commitment is an eternal challenge for the enduring business. It relies on developing strong leaders with an unwavering focus on mission and core values, never forgetting that baton. It can all be ended by one poorly prepared or chosen leader not quickly addressed. The mission is bigger than any one person.

What do you think of Rebecca's perspective? Does your company leverage profits in alignment with core values?