Reading some Ashoka literature today and came across this question:
What is the most critical factor for success in any organization these days?
Traditional factors like technology and marketing are losing their ability to reliably provide long-term advantages. It's too easy to catch up, and even pull ahead.
I agree with the Ashokans when they say it has to be the number and quality of innovative thinkers in the group. How innovative are your people, and how enthusiastically does the organization support their capacity for innovation? Nothing else will keep your group successful. The degree to which you stifle creativity and energy is the degree to which you limit your organization's potential.
It seems that in 2008 I will be spending no small amount of time building organizations. It will be interesting to see what sorts of structures I come up with in order to avoid stifling the members' innovative power.