In too many companies financial performance becomes the tail that wags the dog. Pleasing the City matters enormously but it's not enough to guarantee a stellar reputation - or future success. None of the companies with top scores in Management Today's Britain's Most Admired Companies survey have allowed their tails to take control. They have avoided accusations of short-termism by devoting serious resources to longer term issues. Often these are soft issues that are notoriously tricky to measure.
To find the companies with the best reputations in Britain, academics from Nottingham, Derby and Aston Business Schools canvassed the directors of more than 250 of our biggest public companies and asked them how they rate their peers in nine specific areas. The survey is entertaining, of course, but it is intended to be more than that. It acknowledges that there are different ways of assessing the value of a company.
At a time when change is accelerating and economic uncertainty is everywhere, the survey gives weight to different ways of looking at the strengths of an organisation. The quality of its management is always going to be important but so, too, is the quality of its products, its ability to retain the best people, and so forth.