Who Are You?

Being self aware is good for us as leaders, and it’s good for us collectively as corporations. Not every company is a Silicon Valley startup. Nor does every company have a patent wall that can deflect competition.

Yet many companies want to be something they’re not.  GM, for example, forgot they were a manufacturer of automobiles and decided to become a finance company that just happened to make cars. Many hospitals decided that serving the public in local communities was too mundane and built systems to collect more medicare funding and purchase medical supplies more effectively.

It’s refreshing when a company is not only self aware, but announces it to the world.  Hong Kong Broadband Network, a subsidiary of City Telecom (HK) Limited, understands what they are. HKBN isn’t a leader in providing innovative communications. It’s a provider of Big Fat Dumb Pipes.

It’s not Silicon Valley. It’s a regulated business, but one that understands what it is they do. They provide fast service so their customers can do interesting things with their connections.

Does being self aware work? By one measure, certainly.  Return on Equity was 17.5% for the 12 months ended August 31st, 2011. I’ll leave you to compare it to other more “complicated” regulated communications companies yourself. Here’s one.

Takeaway. Strong financial performance isn’t just about deciding who you want to be. Understand who you are as a corporation first and try embracing that before going off on tangents.

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