Archive for February 2016

Week of February 15, 2016

What Rockefeller Habits are you developing?

Verne Harnish, in Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It . . . and Why the Rest Don’t, spends some time applying the Rockefeller Habits to organizational growth and function.  If you are familiar with and are implementing the Rockefeller Habits in your own organization, would you share how your are doing so?  Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

“Scaling Up,” by Verne Harnish

Scaling Up, Harnish, coverI was recently in a board meeting, during which the conversation had drifted to some strategic planning discussion, when someone mentioned “the Rockefeller Habits.” This person started talking about how they – the Rockefeller Habits – had been implemented in his workplace, and how they had benefited his organization, and encouraged the rest of us to look into it. So, I went home and ordered a copy of Verne Harnish’s Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It . . . and Why the Rest Don’t, which had the unofficial subtitle of “Mastering the Rockefeller Habits 2.0. The book primarily walks through the four crucial decisions that leaders have to make in growing their organizations, decisions related to:

  • Leading people
  • Setting strategy
  • Driving execution
  • Managing cash

Each section/category is broken down into more detailed explanation, with worksheets and documents to help guide the process. Along the way, woven into the four categories, are the applications of the 10 Rockefeller habits. Ultimately, the intent of the book seems to be to provide tools and strategy to help any organization grow significantly larger and still succeed. For that purpose, it is a very practical and valuable book, with excellent ideas. If, like me, you are not necessarily trying to grow your organization, but simply trying to lead it well so that it constantly improves, you can still find a lot of great help in the book. Some of the ideas are not so easily applied because I am not trying to grow my organization, but the principles are still legitimate and valuable, and I believe will certainly make any organization – including my own – better, if I will implement them. After the fact, I am glad I purchased the book, and have a number of excellent take-aways that I have already begun to use. No surprise, then, that I would also recommend this one for you.   Harnish, V. (2014). Scaling Up: How a few companies make it . . . and why the rest don’t. Gazelles, Inc.: Ashburn, VA.

Week of February 8, 2016

“Sometimes . . . you just have to start over”

Sometimes, you have great plans and good intentions, but then everything falls apart, and nothing works the way that you had planned. What matters after that is how you respond, and most often the best answer is going to be to acknowledge the failure and start over. Accept the reality and learn from it. Do things differently, start again, make adjustments and corrections, or even throw it all out and move on to something else. But start over.

The Best of Intentions

Sometimes you have the best of intentions, but things just don’t work out the way you thought they might. I experienced a great example of this during the most recent Christmas season, when I attempted to get my wife a special present. For some time, she had wanted a record player so that she could get some old jazz records to listen to. There was one particular color and style of record player that I knew had drawn her attention, and when I went to the store to purchase it, to surprise her with it as a Christmas gift, the only one left was the display model, and that’s when the adventure started.

Because it was the display model, the power cord – a DC adapter – had been misplaced, and the store manager could not find it. I agreed to purchase it at a discounted price, and then planned to go to Radio Shack and find a cord. However, much to my dismay, Radio Shack did not have a power cord that would work. Desperate, I emailed the manufacturer to order a replacement cord, but by this time, I accepted the realization that it would not arrive by Christmas, and so I was forced to wrap a gift that she wouldn’t be able to use when she opened it.

So, of course, when she opened it, I immediately had to explain what happened. The cord arrived only a few days later, and, without telling her it arrived, I plugged in the record player and put on a record to surprise her with the sound. But then, again to my dismay, I could hear no sound coming out of the speakers!   I opened up the record player, and everything inside seemed to be properly connected and in working order, so I put it back together. Then I discovered the source of the problem – the arm had been bent and broken right at the base, and then bent back to appear as if nothing had happened. Finally, I accepted the inevitable, that the record player was a bust, and I would need to buy another one.

Sometimes, that happens in life. You have great plans and good intentions, but then everything falls apart, and nothing works the way that you had planned. What matters after that is how you respond, and I think that you probably have five options. The first is that you can try to fix it. Sometimes that’s possible, with minimal damage or loss, but it’s also just as likely that you’ve gotten to a point that is beyond fixing. Your next three choices are to beat yourself up, to react in anger and take it out on others, or to pretend like it works, even though it doesn’t. In my experience, these seem to be the three most common responses that people take. The reality is, though, that none of these make things better, and in fact, they will most likely make things worse. So that leaves the final option: acknowledge the failure and start over.

In the end, that is most often going to be the best answer. Accept the reality and learn from it. Do things differently, start again, make adjustments and corrections, or even throw it all out and move on to something else. But regardless, sometimes the best of intentions come to naught, and all you can do is accept the circumstances and move forward.

Incidentally, the following week I found a similar record player in the exact same color. I had needed to accept the fact that the first one was broken and that I needed to find a different one. When I did, I found what I was looking for, and I was finally able to give my wife the gift she had wanted.