Great companiesWhat makes great companies great?James C...

MINDING YOUR BUSINESS

June 15, 1992

Great companies

What makes great companies great?

James C. Collins, an instructor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and colleague William C. Lazier offer some clues in a new book, "Beyond Entrepreneurship: Turning Your Business into an Enduring Great Company," published by Prentice Hall.

While the company was relatively small, key leaders imparted a compelling vision to the organization.

Great companies benefited from people who concentrated more on the creation of an organization rather than a product. Often, founders of great companies began with the idea of what kind of organization they wanted to create and only later decided what businesses they would be in. Bill Hewlett and David Packard, for example, didn't know what kinds of products they were going to make when they founded Hewlett-Packard.

Another characteristic of great companies is that they initiate change and improvements on their own, instead of waiting for marketplace forces to tell them what to do. They measure progress by their own standards.

Organizations that achieved greatness also were marked by emphasis on decentralization of control and extensive autonomy for their employees, Mr. Collins said.

Finally, he said, great companies all seem to project a particular view of work. For them, business "is about making money and, at the same time, about more than making money," Mr. Collins said.

Jobs for MBAs

Job prospects for MBAs are looking up.

For the first time since the 1987 stock market collapse and the beginning of the economic recession, MBAs again are beginning to find job opportunities with Wall Street investment banks. And a recent Michigan State University study found that while job prospects for the nation's 1.1 million graduating college students are dismal, the number of business and management positions available exceeds the number of business school graduates.

In addition to finance, the demand for MBAs with a background in engineering, manufacturing and consulting is strong, according to executive recruiters and business college placement directors.

Instead, MBA graduates should seek employment with small to medium-size growth firms, placement officers say. Though starting salaries at such firms may well be far below the $50,000- $70,000 range that MBA graduates had come to expect in the go-go 1980s, they're more likely to have jobs available and offer more opportunities for graduates hoping to make an immediate impact.

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