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Mastering the Rockefeller Habits; good then, and now!

This week in my Vistage executive peer groups we explored Verne Harnish's masterwork, Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, and the value that these 10 over arching habits can have on a growing company. The book has been a staple for small to mid-size businesses seeking an operating system and cadence to drive their businesses forward. From the outset, we focused on Harnish's mantra that 'routines can set you free...' and the value of setting up intentional processes, systems, and practices for your company. We explored the value of: Priorities, Data, and Rhythm for companies. We considered the suggestions, concepts, checklists, and tools that the author put together to create an operating system for the business.

Peter Drucker, has wisely said that 'the days of the intuitive manager are numbered.' This is not just a witty pun. In our age of rapid pace and immediate information, you have got to create a systems based approach for your business with discipline, operating rules, and KPIs or you risk your business to the vulnerabilities of emotion where your intuitive gut driven decisions can literally drive your business off the cliff.

I personally find Harnish's "Execution" checklist for the Rockefeller Habits to be quite useful. Concepts such as:

  1. Getting the executive team aligned and health.

  2. Getting everyone on the team (the bus) aligned with the #1 thing that needs to be done.

  3. Getting the communication out to all stakeholders with a cadence and rhythm that is repeatable, echoing, and persistent.

  4. Getting alignment on the specific boundaries, responsibilities, and processes of the company are designated to individual stakeholders, where the 'faces' and 'paces' of the company are delineated, organized, and responsible parties.

  5. Setting up active listening systems to ask, collect, consider and reflect on what employees are saying, doing, or not-doing; the aim is to get the input up to management from throughout the enterprise. What should be be doing more of, keeping, or eliminating from the process.

  6. Setting up active listening systems for customer feedback, input, and experience enhancement. Setting up a deliberate role for the customer advocate within your company to never forget the 'why' you are in business.

  7. Delineating the core values and purposes of a team; those spoken and unspoken, to drive an intentional culture where the values, mission, and purpose are reinforced throughout all communications of the company.

  8. Setting up big and daring goals, stretch goals, and communicating these goals with themes and storytelling to get buy in and acceptance of the core vision.

  9. Identifying key KPIs for all individuals, organizations, initiatives so that you do that #1 thing, and the top five things with regularity and persistent target focus and deliberate actions.

  10. Making the business fun for the whole team, making visible the invisible, putting scorecards, mission, passion, and performance in front of the team in ways that are engaging and memorable to the team. Preparation of a situation or war room for putting up the key targets, goals, and scorecards for the operation. For in the words of the late Kraig Kramer's, "What gets measured, gets done."

In closing, I have followed Verne Harnish's career with interest and I truly think his work is a contribution to the field of business, executive coaching, and a growth mindset. Years ago, I was a young entrepreneur running a fast growing company and explored the MIT Birthing of Giants Program and its aims. The idea that we can learn from past successes and study the great business entrepreneurs resonates with me. I valued the book Mastering the Rockefeller Habits when it came out. I valued the concepts further when Gino Wickman incorporated them in his book "Traction" and the EOS system that was subsequently developed. I value further the Scaling Up book for its many ideas, and processes that push the envelope of creativity, process, and cadence for companies. You can gain much by following these precepts and applying them to your business and operations.


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