A statistic that always surprises me is that of the 28 million businesses in the United States, 95 percent of them have fewer than 10 employees. Successful entrepreneurs often reach a “glass ceiling” where they can no longer grow their business because they can’t continue to “do it all”. They are advised to let go, empower others and plan and communicate better. When I reached that point in our company’s growth it was the best of times, sales and profits were at record highs, and the worst of times, I was working long hours and felt like I would never catch up. I knew that things had to change but I had no practical guide for how to do it.
It was at that time that I discovered the book Scaling Up: Mastering the Rockefeller Habits 2.0 by Verne Harnish. After reading the book Titan, a biography of John D. Rockefeller, Harnish discovered leadership and management principles that he has developed into simple and practical tools for taking your business to the next level. These tools were the key to helping us scale up our business as we grew to become one of the .4% of companies with over 350 employees.
Scaling Up provides many great tools and I find the 3 Right Questions and the 3 Rockefeller Habits to be the most valuable. The 3 Right Questions assist you with optimizing your business model and your human capital before implementing the habits.
Do we have the Right People?
A quick way to figure this out is to ask yourself if you would enthusiastically rehire each person on your team if given that opportunity. The second question is do you think they have the potential to be the best in their position three to five years from now. Remember that you may have some Right People in the wrong positions. When you have “A” players it makes all the difference in the world.
Are we doing the Right Things?
This question is about strategy. You don’t have a real strategy if it doesn’t pass two tests: that what you are doing really matters to your existing and potential customers; and second, that you can sustainably differentiate yourself from your competition. It is important to have a strategic planning process that regularly addresses these questions. The One Page Strategic Plan is a powerful tool that is included in Scaling Up.
Are we doing Things Right?
Have you implemented management practices and processes to take advantage of your economic model? Do you have the habits and disciplines in place to maintain your competitive advantage? Is your organization structured to maximize productivity and to deliver a consistent product or service?
The 3 Right Questions help to chart a course for where you need to go and the 3 Rockefeller Habits help you to navigate how you are going to get there. These habits are the key for unlocking the true potential of your business model and your team!
Habit #1: Priorities
There are a handful of priorities, some of which don’t change much like the core values of the firm and the long-term Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) and others that change every quarter and every week. It is important for the company to regularly review these priorities. The One Page Strategic Plan helps to identify the Top 5 priorities for the year and the quarter and makes sure that everyone in the organization has their own handful of priorities that align with the company’s priorities.
Habit #2: Data
In order to know if you’re acting consistent with your priorities you need feedback in the form of real time data. There are key metrics that you will have to define and measure over an extended period of time. Key questions include: Does the organization have sufficient data on a daily and weekly basis to provide insight into how the company is performing and does everyone in the organization have at least one key daily or weekly metric driving his or her performance?
Habit #3: Rhythm
Harnish argues that until your team is “mocking” you, you’ve not repeated your message enough. A well-organized set of daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual meetings keep everyone aligned and accountable.
Before I discovered the Rockefeller Habits I was a hard “worker” but a poor “planner and leader”. John Wooden, the legendary Hall of Fame coach, had it right when he said “Failing to plan is planning to fail”. While it will take endurance and patience to “master” these habits, it will be a very rewarding journey for you and your team.
For more information on this topic check out www.gazelles.com and join us at the High Center on September 27th to hear Harnish’s partner, John Ratliff, speak about the Rockefeller Habits. www.thehighcenter.com