The ultimate goal for most businesses is to be successful–whether a company measures success by revenue, employee retainment rates, or customer experience, executives are always searching for ways to improve, particularly when undertaking digital transformation projects.

However, nobody wants short-lived success; rather, business professionals are looking for ways to make their companies infinitely successful, said Jeff Stier, executive director of Purpose Realized at EY, in a session at SAP SAPPHIRE NOW 2019.

SEE: How to manage job stress: An IT leader’s guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

“Approaches to transformations that we all use have not caught up with the new definitions of success,” Stier said. “We must redefine how we think about playing the game.”

The most profitable companies are those that operate with the idea that success is a long-term initiative, according to Stier. “Organizations that play the long game become inspired modern movements,” he noted.

Long-term players are those that work toward future visions, play to stay in the game, use purpose and values as a call to action, and hold growth mindsets, Stier said. Short-term players, on the other hand, only work to complete a single mission, use immediate goals as a call to action, are solely focused on winning or beating competition, and hold fixed mindsets, he added.

Using Simon Sinek’s Five Attributes as a guide, Jennifer Maddox–senior manager of Purpose Realized at EY–and Stier outlined the five necessary components of a successful long-term business.

1. Just cause

To have a sustainable business, professionals must hold onto a core belief, cause, or vision, and operate with that idea in mind, Stier said. Business decision makers should try changing their perspectives to align with a root cause and allow this to guide their work over time.

Some example phrases with a cause in mind include:

  • “I imagine a world in which…”
  • “I believe that everything I do is to…”
  • “To uniquely contribute to the world…”

2. Trusted teams

To have a long-lasting, effective team, its members must trust in each other and the goal, said Stier.

Trusted teams are made up of five key components, Stier noted, citing a recent Google study on the subject. The combination of psychological safety, dependability, structure and clarity, meaning, and impact is what creates a trusted team capable of a sustainable business lifespan.

3. Understand worthy rivals

Many people are fueled by competition, and while that mindset may give your team the adrenaline to accomplish short-term goals, it isn’t a beneficial outlook in the long haul, Stier said.

Instead, professionals should try viewing competitors as allies. Look at their organization as a whole, and learn from both their struggles and successes, Stier recommended.

4. Flexible playbook

“Great organizations have an infinite mindset and a flexible playbook,” according to Stier. With how rapidly technology is evolving, organizations must be open to the fact that customers’ needs will fluctuate and shift too.

To have a long-term business, professionals must view the world as ever-changing and transformable, rather than static, Stier said.

5. Courageous leaders

As with most business initiatives, long-term thinking starts from the top. A courageous leader is a catalyst for change, leading people towards a long-term vision, Stier said.

However, there is a place for finite thinking as well, Stier added. Managers, for example, should operate with a more short-term mindset, guiding employees towards quarterly goals and objectives. Managers must always be privy to and keep long-term goals in mind, but short-term plans typically fall under their job title, Stier said.

For advice on how to keep your team resilient when chasing long-term goals, check out this TechRepublic article.