“How a Few Companies Make It… and Why the Rest Don’t”Some books are easy to read. Mastering the Rockefeller Habits 2.0 “Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It… and Why the Rest Don’t” by Verne Harnish is not. This book is not for the faint of heart; it’s really only for those who love leading an organization to future growth. I don’t want to brag, but it took me over a year to finish this book! And I still only understand about half of what I read. However, I was encouraged at the end when Harnish cautions that it would probably take 2-3 years to implement the habits in the book and an additional 2-3 years to master them. So when I posted on social media that this book was like earning an M.B.A. in one read, I wasn’t exaggerating. Here are a few inspirational takeaways you can grab today:
1. People come first.I love this, and Harnish gives some great advice on how to surround yourself with the right people. He asks two simple questions to determine if you need to make changes on the people side of your organization: “Are you happy?” “Would you enthusiastically rehire everyone, knowing what you know today?” At the end of the “People” section, the book points out what we all know– it isn’t about personality as much as it is about “responsibility.” The key is taking responsibility for your actions as a leader and creating systems and strategies that inspire, motivate and hold people accountable.
2. Strategy is super important.How do you know if your organization has a good strategy? It’s easy: growth. If your organization isn’t doing what you desire, then something’s wrong with the strategy. Harnish reminds us that, “A weakened culture will torpedo any strategy.” When you have the right people empowered on a solid strategy, you are ready for the next level of scaling up.
3. Follow through!I call it “follow through.” Harnish calls it “execution.” Either way, the job has to get done! You can have great people and a great plan, but unless there is action then it’s all just talk! This question from Harnish sums it up: “Are all processes running without drama and driving industry-leading profitability?” Is your strategy running without drama? In order to get to a resounding “YES,” Harnish encourages setting a crystal clear direction with attainable goals and building a reward system for when the team achieves them. Finally …
4. Cash is oxygen.I know this may seem less than romantic, especially to those of us who run non-profits. However, we all know the suffocation caused by lack of resources. Harnish states it strongly with the simple business truth: “You can get by with decent People, Strategy, and Execution, but not a day without Cash.” Ironically, the problem of resources doesn’t go away with growth; in fact, it becomes insanely more important! The main takeaway from this section is how small decisions can make huge impacts. Cutting expenses or raising income by even just 1% can create long-term, enormous consequences. To say this section and this book is packed with resources and tools to organize your team and grow your organization would be an understatement. In fact, my business reading list has come from the 80+ books and tools referenced in this book. This book isn’t an easy read, and the principles aren’t easy to master. I’m hoping that mastering the difficult makes other things easy. Have you ever pressed through the difficult because the process was worth it? I’d love to hear your story!
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