What Icebergs Teach us About Running and Creating Successful Businesses

There are few things in nature as beautiful as an iceberg slowly moving on ocean currents. The vast majority of an iceberg, of course, is invisible to the casual observer as it is hidden under the sea level, and so the saying ‘tip of the iceberg.’ There are parallels to be drawn with successful businesses. They too demand that most of the work happening behind the scenes. This work is kept invisible to the client and provides a strong foundation.

These are five of the top things that make that customer-facing tip of the iceberg shine.

1. Company Culture or organizational culture needs to suit you, your staff and your business. It should reflect your core values. Is it informal or formal? Does it respect norms or strive to break them? Is it process-focused or outcome-focused? It’s worth thinking about what your culture is.

2. Standardized Processes. A whole range of processes needs to happen over and over again. Without standards, your approach would be inconsistent and chaotic. Standard processes require rules that define the scope, quality, and methods to be followed. This is essential in ensuring quality and reducing human error.

3. Passion. Are your company and its staff passionate about what they do? The cliché goes: hire for passion first and experience second, but it’s a cliché that seems to be proven right time and time again. Fostering passion means hiring the right people, but also communicating with teams and staff, working hard but rewarding with a focus on productivity instead of long hours. Be ambitious and communicate your vision.

4. Teamwork. Teams are the engines of your company, their dynamics, and have a direct impact on your culture and bottom line. Successful teams create successful projects and customer interactions. Build teams by recognizing and celebrating diversity and differences. You need technical experts as well as managers, and communicators as well as completer- finishers.

5. Ability to react to customers’ demand promptly. Without happy customers, a successful business has nothing. Successful companies need to maintain a focus on customer needs and react to their demands by harnessing the company culture, processes, passion and teamwork under the surface.

On the surface, you might see a great product and customer service. These should be the most tangible end-user experiences. A strong base, however, is required to deliver these. Don’t underestimate the importance of all that goes on below the surface.
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