What really sets apart the good from the great.

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Have you noticed that all companies are both trustworthy and offer high quality products or services? Well, at least that’s what they say. Many also seem to have solid core values that they hang on their walls or print in annual reports. Who wouldn’t be impressed by these:

We have an obligation to communicate. Here, we take the time to talk with one another… and to listen. We believe that information is meant to move and that information moves people.

We treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves. We do not tolerate abusive or disrespectful treatment.

We work with customers and prospects openly, honestly and sincerely. When we say we will do something, we will do it; when we say we cannot or will not do something, then we won’t do it.

We are satisfied with nothing less than the very best in everything we do. We will continue to raise the bar for everyone. The great fun here will be for all of us to discover just how good we can really be.

Doesn’t the above give you a warm, cozy feeling and make you want to do business with such a company? Great sounding core values are easy to define, but hard to live by. Would you be surprised to learn that the above core values were Enron’s? They were listed in their 2000 annual report on page 53.

Likely everyone reading this knows about Enron being the largest bankruptcy in US history until 2001. When Enron imploded, it took Arthur Andersen down with them. Scandals, perpetuated by lies, and deceit and miscommunications were reported to be the norm within Enron. Several key people were prosecuted and went to prison as a result.

So why would a company espouse great values but not live them? Here are some possible reasons: .

  • Pressure to compromise
  • Image
  • Perceived gain
  • Corporate culture
  • Individual character not aligned with corporate core “values.”
  • Seek to blame and not to change

Average simply happens, and anything good will have substantial, negative pressure applied to cause the good to cave in. To purpose to live by good core values one must be resolute to stand against the negative pressure to compromise.

It’s one thing to claim wonderful sounding core values, but quite another when they are woven into the fiber of the organization by threads of individual character. Finding quality people is not easy and then they have to be placed in the right positions within the company. Jim Collins calls that “the right people in the right seats.” (Good to Great, Harper Collins) Finding the right people takes time and retaining them must be a key management focus.

SwiftOtter is small in number. We purpose to grow only as the right people, with the right character are found. We are as committed to high skill level as we are to the right character. The right people are as much learners as they are people of character–that is our culture.

SwiftOtter, Inc.
Steve Maxwell - chief synergist at Swift Otter

Chief synergist at SwiftOtter. Some people would say that it's a fancy term for sales / account manager. At a basic level, that would be true, but he does way more.