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The challenges that drive a Supercompany

In identifying Supercompany Thinking as the mindset that underpins high-performing companies, we’ve stressed that it’s not what these companies do but more importantly how and – most significantly – why they do what they do. You don’t become a supercompany by attempting to mimic what the likes of Amazon, Apple or any of the other role model organisations do. In fact, we have found supercompanies observe widely but copy nobody. Their strategy and differentiators are unique and their own.

In the next issues of The Next Ten Years, we will bring insight as to what some of these companies did differently, and, more importantly start to codify the how thinking pattern that took them there.

We will start with three introductory observations on the primary qualities at the forefront of Supercompany thinking. These qualities have become their primary differentiators. A Supercompany will never outperform on everything but theses three critical differentiators are non-negotiable:

  • Customer innovation
  • Leadership
  • Entrepreneurialism

How many are saying “we do that already”?

If you genuinely are – with a clear differentiator in all three areas then you will be growing at considerably quicker levels than most. If you believe you are leading your market in these areas but not achieving these performance gains then you are probably not as differentiated as you think!

Before we unpack these, an obvious question question comes to mind. Something like – “Well, that’s fine, but what about…” and ends with “marketing, digital, strategy, financial engineering, employee engagement” or any other discipline that could be extremely important.

We’re not saying these other factors are unimportant but we are suggesting these three qualities closer to the core. They permeate every aspect of the company and what they do.

Of course, you dont have to take our word for this. We will be bringing you the evidence, plus of course, our own thinking will adapt. That is the whole point.

Innovate around customer outcomes

Customer innovation is a shorthand for “creating great outcomes that are in advance of your competition”. In fact the better you know your customer, the more likely you will identify outcome opportunity that the customer does not even know about.

Lets be clear about one thing. Most of the time, data wont identify your opportunity! Data will give you an extrapolation of the customers views – better, faster, cheaper – preferably all three. The “performance extrapolator” has a tough time. Extracting that tiny bit more from what they already have is a tough call.

On the other hand, the outcome based innovator starts in a completely different place. It is the customer. He/she will use thinking patterns that all the data analysis in the world wont identify. Thinking differently is not about following the logical majority.

Further, this is also very different from providing a great customer experience or “rock star service” – these may be important but only if they support what the customer is trying to achieve – even if they dont even know it yet. Yes, innovators are in the business of creating outcomes that customers dont even know they need. That’s part of the mind shift that is used to disrupt or turn over markets.

Leadership, always leadership

There’s been so much written and taught about leadership that it might seem odd to call it out as a supercompany trait.

But it is.

Why is employee engagement sitting so low in most organisations? Is it low in the superformers? We are not suggesting that Superperformers always have happy employees – the rumours around Amazon amongst others will attest to that. Engaged however, they most certainly are.

Great leadership is something all companies strive for. At an individual level many believe they are good at it, even if their colleagues and staff would beg to differ.

Some people are naturally great leaders and others work really hard to achieve it. The case studies and thinking we will be sharing will be focussed on helping the latter.

That is not to say that great ideas will help everybody. There is one type of leader who it is almost impossible to help. The narcissistic leader. The individual who’s primary agenda is themselves. There are lots of them around. They manipulate, force and create misery for too many people around them. They are also naturally resilient.

Creat leadership starts with “WHY”. The leader’s WHY, the organisations WHY, the customers WHY and the employees WHY. Great leadership starts with recognising that their focus is constantly fighting for that alignment. Selflessly. If you get the WHY right at multiple levels then you are already considerably further along the path than those who are fighting with WHAT and HOW.

We are going to share ideas that will help some of our readers think differently. This is abut next practice not best practice!

That’s why we’re delighted to have Gordon Tredgold as a lead contributor on the topic – his FAST model provides an easy-to-grasp approach that deserves a wider audience.

Think – and act – like an entrepreneur

Entrepreneurialism is our third trait and is probably the hardest one to understand in the mid-size and large company. That’s because – as Clare Boyles discusses – entrepreneurs have a strong tendency to be independent-minded types who don’t always fit the corporate mould. There’s also – in the UK at least – a sense that entrepreneurs are the no-nonsense “go-getters” glamorised on TV programmes such as Dragon’s Den and The Apprentice.

Do you want companies to be as agile as the world is changing outside? Actually no – not a chance. Achieve that that and you will be dead in not too many years. You want to be looking to be as agile as the world outside will be in ten years.

Do you want to try and forecast that? Because i dont! We cannot forecast imminent general elections or referendums that are a month away so how are we going to forecast a ten year horizon?

The answer is you dont try. You prepare yourself for a world that cannot be predicted. One thing you will need is agility. big companies will need the agility of start-ups? The super companies are doing that already. Companies are already recruiting mileleninails and generation Ys who will have 6 distinct specialisations inter lifetime.

Entrepreneurialism is many things – but if there is one point I would emphasise it is about flexibility to react to a world that cannot be predicted and create outcomes for customers that they down even know about yet.


A short introduction but these are the challenge we want to address in The Next Ten Years.

Nick Bush

Nick is a business advisor and non-executive director who helps organisations improve their focus and performance by developing customer-centred strategies and business plans. He has helped companies transform the way they do business through better strategies, change management and technology, with a relentless focus on the customer. Nick has worked across all kinds of business sectors from telecoms to banking, chemicals to charities - as owner of Open Chord his current focus is on helping arts and non-profit organisations to be more successful by creating a solid planning foundation that will help them grow.