What Does Most Admired Really Mean?

There are any number of “most admired” lists published each year. Some are bogus, others seem to be legit. However, what do they tell us? Perhaps that even professionals who “vote” in such polls can be easily fooled.

Three recent examples come to light:

  1. In September of 2015 Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) proclaimed Volkswagen the “world’s most sustainable car company.” Some skeptics might suggest that is not a high bar, but it was given full marks for codes of conduct, compliance, anti-corruption, innovation management and climate strategy. About 10 days after the award was given the truth came out.
  2. In early 2015 Chipotle was named one of Fortune‘s World’s Most Admired top 50 All-Stars. Admiration was measured by quality of products, innovativeness, social responsibility and long-term investment value among other criteria. They were given more kudos by Fortune in November for their focus on animal welfare in suspending one of its suppliers. While commendable, perhaps they were focused on the wrong things given the e-coli outbreak that has destroyed a substantial part of their business.
  3. Just a few days ago Fortune named Monsanto one of the world’s most admired companies. A cursory review of media in the US would question that position.

Perhaps it’s time again for companies (and the media) to focus attention on how well customers are served by a company rather than how well their peers feel about them. Sort of like the Oscars where films liked by other actors and often ignored by the public win awards.


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