What makes a great company? We answer the question with an example in this month's issue. The Professional Builder 2007 Builder of the Year is Shea Homes, and it exhibits all the characteristics of what makes a great company.
While many believe those characteristics include strong strategic planning, great execution and fabulous controls, there are other aspects of greatness I think go overlooked.
Patrick Lencioni, author of the "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable" and other best-selling business books addressed this in his keynote speech at the Professional Builder Benchmark Conference in September. His most significant point: there are two requirements for organizational success — to be both smart and healthy — and we tend to focus only on the smart side, which includes strategy, marketing, finance and technology. The healthy side, though, can have more significant effect on our greatness as companies and organizations. By healthy, Lencioni means such things as minimal politics, minimal confusion and high morale — the hard-to-control human aspects of business management.
Shea Homes excels in all the traditional smart areas we measure in the business world. I think it really separates itself in the healthy areas. When Senior Contributing Editor Matt Power traveled to California to interview Shea's senior managers, he was struck by the common language they used. You can see it in his article on page 42. People at Shea Homes speak regularly of honesty and integrity. They benchmark employee morale and company cultural fit. CEO Bert Selva, explains that the company looks to two traits in employees: commitment and alignment to company goals.
Our editorial team has had the privilege of working with several Shea Homes employees on different projects, including the National Housing Quality Awards; I can speak from personal experience that these kinds of soft traits are evident in every Shea person I've met. No matter what is happening in the economy or business environment, you understand they are part of a healthy organizational culture that does as much or more to ensure the company's greatness than even the most sophisticated process could.
Don't get me wrong. Refined business processes are essential to greatness. But if you want to be a Professional Builder Builder of the Year, you have to be healthy — top to bottom.
Paul Deffenbaugh, Editorial Director