Which bucket is your company in?

When I spoke at Drexel’s Malvern Campus recently, I shared this
from my Years Ahead research project.


Imagine that I am putting in front of you three buckets.



Picture the first (red) bucket as being labeled Years Behind companies. They may be making money, they may not. These are companies that are doing the same things they’ve done for years, offering the same products or services. They are usually run by managers, not by leaders. They don't particularly value ideas or innovation (and may even be threatened by new ideas or change). They don’t reward fresh thinking and look for new or better ways to do things. They talk about, but don’t really do much about keeping up or staying informed.

Visualize the second (green) bucket as being labeled Keeping Up companies. These are companies that are usually better run — by more talented and skilled people — and sometimes by leaders. They make an effort to keep up with others but usually have little in the way of new products and offerings, new systems, new things that are advanced or forward. Listening to customers and the marketplace, planning and thinking ahead are all things they talk about, but don’t do much about. They tend to dabble with new ideas, but when most of them don’t make a profit quickly, they are abandoned. They hope for, but just aren’t able to produce anything that is game-changing.

Imagine the third (blue) bucket as being labeled Years Ahead companies. These are companies that have at least one Years Ahead leader. They value and encourage innovation, ideas, new concepts, improvement, and progress. They are training their people to look ahead and think ahead, to anticipate and to avoid problems and thereby minimize risk. They are not particularly troubled by mistakes, failure, or challenges. They know these are to be expected. They seek out information and insight from experts, they often talk to and listen to their customers, they watch and adapt to changing wants and needs in the market, and try to anticipate or create new needs or new knowledge. 

Do these three buckets fit the companies you've observed?  If so, picture yourself dropping each name into the bucket that best describes the way it operates.

So what?... well, try asking these questions:

  • Which bucket of companies would you want to invest in?
  • Which bucket of companies is most likely to survive economic turmoil, competitive challenges and rapid change?
  • Which bucket of companies would you most want to work for?

Here’s why these questions are so important:

1. Capital. Which companies are most likely to attract capital — venture capital, angel investors, private equity, conventional lenders or when they become public — people who want to buy stock? Companies that can consistently attract capital can do far more than companies that can’t.

2. Longevity, adaptability and survival. The ability to anticipate and respond to changing conditions, threats, and risk are all vital to a company’s long term survival. Companies that are constantly reacting, surprised by events such as leadership or client departures, or are unprepared for threats or failures, undergo far more stress and are much less likely to survive.

3. Talent — attracting and keeping it. You probably get the picture by now — which companies will attract the best talent and the smartest people? Which will have the best applicant pool to choose from, the easiest time recruiting, and the best retention? Who do you suppose gets more applicants from which to choose — Google — or copycat companies that are struggling to knock off what others are doing?

Does this give you a glimpse of why the Years Ahead Project might be important?

But that's not all... there's even more we are working on. We want to know why some leaders are able to be years ahead of others — how they think and how they got that way, and how they manage to build years ahead companies.


Carl Francis, CEO

P.S. So… which bucket would you put your company in — the one you work for or perhaps the one you run? 

And what are you going to do about it?

If you'd like to know more, call me at 610.640.4600x1 or email me.


Here are some additional questions you might find helpful:

  • Which group of companies are most likely to be written about in the media?
  • Which companies are likely to have influence on their industry?
  • Which companies are likely to have the highest market value?
  • Which companies are likely to produce leaders who are sought after by other companies?
  • Which companies are likely to attract smaller companies with ideas?
  • Which companies are likely to attract vendors who also have new ideas and better ways to do things?
  • Which companies are most likely to have their calls taken by top leaders — even if the call comes from the sales department?