Business Week 50 Best Performers: Is Your Company On The List?

» Posted by Jeanne Meister  » Posted on 04.07.08

The Business Week 50

The annual Business Week survey of the 50 Best Performers is out on newsstands.

Here are a few things to think about: Is your company on the list? What are the companies on the list doing in terms of people development?

First the top list of companies:
1. Coach
2. Gilead Sciences
3. Allegheny Technologies
4. Verizon
5. Questar
6. Apple
7. Colgate-Palmolive
8. BJ Services
9. Abercrombie & Fitch
10. MEMC Electronic Materials
11. CB Richard Ellis Group
12. C.H. Robinson Worldwide
13. IntercontinentalExchange
14. UnitedHealth Group
15. CME Group
16. Starbucks
17. Robert Half International
18. Avon Products
19. Cognizant Technology Solutions
20. Sunoco
21. Goldman Sachs Group
22. Exelon
24. Rockwell Collins
25. Nucor
26. Varian Medical Systems
27. AT&T
28. Autodesk
29. T.Rowe Price Group
30. Bed Bath & Beyond
31. Pepsico
32. Expeditors International of Washington
33. Lehman Brothers
34. Google
35. Schlumberger
36. Best Buy
37. IMS Health
38. PNC Financial Services Group
39. Constellation Energy Group
40. Sherwin-Williams
41. Microsoft
42. Precision Castparts
43. Titanium Metals
44. Moody’s
45. Coca-Cola
46. Barr Pharmaceuticals
47. TJX
48. Centurytel
49. Nvidia
50. Exxon Mobil

A few observations:

The list is created based on financial measures. Business Week selects the top performers in each of 10 sectors based on two key metrics: return on investment and sales growth over the past three years (and for the financial service firms, their return on equity and growth in assets). But as we know that only tells a small part of the story. What about the commitment these companies are making to innovation and people development? One of the companies - Lehman Brothers is in fact doing both, all the more remarkable given the current chaos in the financial services and sub-prime marketplace. This year Lehman Brothers ranked number 33 on Business Week’s Top 50 list and while down slightly from the previous year, the company continues to make a commitment to people development.

One of the interesting innovations in learning used by Lehman Brothers is Metaphoric Learning, a learning method that takes participants out of their familiar surroundings and gives them the opportunity to immerse themselves in a new world. Metaphorical Learning is not just another fad. Rather, this learning method, as pioneered by Duke Corporate Education, ties learning outcomes to key business priorities. At Lehman Brothers, metaphorical learning is used to develop relationship building skills among investment bankers who become part of a pit crew changing tires trackside at a NASCAR race while building key skills sets that focus on developing execution skills and how to be a member of a complex team.

To date, over 500 Lehman executives have participated in metaphoric learning experiences and according to Lehman Brothers there has been a relationship between those who participate in these learning experiences and an increased retention rate. Is this method widespread? Currently it is focused on niche populations in financial services and medical fields but is gaining traction among a broader segment of workers even New York Police Department has used metaphoric learning to build observation skills among police detectives. Is it effective? The key to using metaphoric learning is to be sure it is linked to strategic business goals, the specific skill sets you want to build in a target audience and then measure the outcomes such as increased employee retention, revenue and productivity. If you have experience with metaphoric learning please share your experiences with us.

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