This episode features Verne Harnish – internationally renowned business expert, founder of the entrepreneur’s organisation, founder and CEO of ‘Scaling Up’ author of ‘Mastering the Rockefeller Habits’ and his latest book ‘Scaling Up’. In this podcast he discusses his views on business leadership, what companies get right in their approach to growth and scaling up, as well as what it takes to cultivate the high performance culture within an organisation.
You’ve seen a lot and studied a lot, you’ve met some very impressive business leaders across the globe, is there anyone that sticks out as the most impressive business leader and why?
A big company example would be Bill Gates, to think today as we are doing this podcast the company Microsoft is worth over $1 trillion, and they are ahead of the Facebooks, the Apples and the Amazons, Bill would clearly be the wealthiest guy on the planet next to Putin, if he hadn’t given away a chunk of his change. The decisions that they have made, the way they have structured the company not to be resilient but to be ‘anti=-fragile’ the fact that Microsoft is driven by 15,000 or so entrepreneurs, these ‘solution providers’ that are in the field, that is a business model that you just can’t beat. In our day and age, I don’t think there is a smarter business leader.
On the mid-market, it’s the Australian guys over at Atlassian, the last I checked they were around 32 billion in value, and it’s because of their outstanding leadership, and their new approach to business plus their technology is really causing a revolution in the way we lead companies around the planet.
How do you walk the line of high performance and the aspect of accountability that comes with that, and the aspect of care and empathy/connection with your team?
There is nothing better than the win and winning begets winning. One of the things that we encourage is if you’ve been losing for a while and your culture is damaged, that you piece together some little wins. They’ve got to get that taste of victory back in their mouth. One of the things I focused on as a parent was getting each one of my kids to taste real success. Once they get that taste in their mouths, you can set them free because they will hunger for it the rest of their lives. Its kind of a chicken and egg question, so you want to start by ‘what do we have to accomplish today to move the needle’ then do it then do the same thing tomorrow.
The three pillars to the Rockefeller habits are priorities, data and rhythm. How does that translate to positive results for companies and how do they piece together to move the business forward?
So we start with priorities, the first step is to pick the most important next. Today, this week the next few weeks. It’s the essence of the sprint, that they talk about in Silicon Valley. You can only eat an elephant one bite at a time, so they break it down. So first set priority, 2 you need to gather data around that, both qualitative and quantitative. 3, you need to get in a room and talk about it. If you catch up regularly you can consider all the facts, then you can decide what to do next.
Can you explain what a BHAG is?
It’s a term coined by Jim Collins; it stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal. The idea is to put a stake in the ground 10, 20 or 30 out. It doesn’t need to have a deadline, it’s just something that you want to achieve long term, but it does have to be measurable. You need to know that you’ve accomplished it. The BHAG is the measurable component of your overall purpose and why.