Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Ranking Season

Today starts the ranking season. The Wall Street Journal (December 6, 2005) issued its Harris Interactive survey of corporate reputations. Soon to follow in late February is the Fortune Most Admired Companies Survey. Ron Alsop, the writer, made an interesting point about it taking Google seven years to build a great reputation. Revered Jim Collins, author of Good to Great and management guru, has said that it takes seven years for a company to go from good to great, not from zero to great. As Collins reminds us in Built to Last, "good" is not so easy to get to at all. Google has definitely set a record but as we see time and time again, reputations rise and fall like the temperature.

Today is also the day that I get inquiries about the "WSJ" survey. Companies do not understand that the WSJ survey is among consumers whereas the Fortune survey is among the corporate elite and financial analysts. If you recall, a few years back, Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream was among the most admired in the WSJ survey -- an obvious hint that CEOs were not voting! The other hint that the WSJ survey of reputation is among consumers is that the top 10 are all consumer-based companies. J&J, Coca-Cola, Google and UPS are all companies that average consumers touch nearly every day. In the Fortune survey, we find that some of the top votes go to companies such as Berkshire Hathaway and Procter & Gamble which consumers might not immediately recognize despite knowing their products (Geico and Tide, respectively).

Alas, the Harris survey results are discouraging. Alsop points out that consumers are down on corporate America -- 71 percent rated American businesses' reputation as not good. This is despite the outpouring of support for recent hurricanes, tsunamis and earthquakes. Sounds like we all have our work cut out for us if we want to build back that trust.

Keep the faith that we can turn this around.

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