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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Are we great?

Jim Collin’s graduate classes researched the question, “what makes a company great instead of just good?” They found companies with good financials through at least fifteen years and matched them to similar companies to give each entry a control. Those that did considerably better than their industry – and their control -- were investigated for common attributes and behaviors. The results appeared in the book From Good to Great

Maybe the seven characteristics below, developed from the "how to" part of the book, can be used to see if Costa Mesa is “going great.”

Culture of persistent excellence

At the heart of those truly great companies was a culture that rigorously sought active, even driven, people who think and act in a disciplined manner. Our CEO, Police Chief, Fire Chief, and major department heads are certainly disciplined and effective. They demonstrate “can do” attitudes and service excellence even in their “free time.”

We've personally had business contacts at non-City Hall hours with Dan Joyce, Ernesto Munoz, Sandra Genis, Steve Mensinger, Jim Righeimer, and Jim Fitzpatrick. They aren’t “nine-to-five” employees. The top executives have not yet failed to respond to our calls or emails. Their “buck stops here” attitude hasn't completely filtered down through the ranks yet, though.

The City’s advisory committees seem to be chosen with service excellence in mind. In Collins’ words, they “get the right people on the bus.”

What do you think about the executives who are governing our city?

The seven key charistics that separated the “great” companies  from their controls were:
(1) CEOs combined "personal humility and professional will" focused toward making a great (City);
(2) They started by eliminating weak people, adding top performing ones, and establishing a culture of top talent putting out extraordinary effort (they got the right people on board);
(3) They focused, continuously, on the hardest facts about the (City's) situation;
(4) They used facts to develop simple concepts that are iteratively reconsidered to improve performance;
(5) They established and maintained a corporate culture of discipline built around commitments, with freedom about how to meet those promises;
(6) They used technology to accelerate progress (only) when it fit the (City’s) concept of what it wants to become; and
(7) The (City) is now building momentum from consistent efforts that are reinforced by success.

So, where do we stand?

We've heard a lot over the last year about how “greatCosta Mesa is, but the comments have been based on pride and feelings, not objective, much less scientific, findings. 

If Collins’ classes examined Costa Mesa’s government, would they consider us on the road from “good to great?” Or not?

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