Good to Great- A Synopsis

1.Level 5 Leaders
a. An individual who is very humble on a personal level, but who possesses a great deal of drive and desire to succeed, where “success’ is not personal, but defined by creating something great that will outlast their time at the helm.

2.First Who… Then What
a. First and foremost, do we have the right people “on the bus”?
b. “Great” companies have a very solid foundation, and don’t depend on the brilliance of any one person.
c. “Great” companies are “tough” places to work because of the general high-quality and hard-working mindset.
d. Quotes from the book…
i. Don’t hire someone unless you’re 100% sure that they are the right person. It’s better to wait and get someone that you know is a good fit.
ii. Once you realize you need to fire someone, don’t put it off. Do it quickly and fairly, but do it and be done with it, rather than put it off.
iii. Give good people good opportunities, rather than the biggest problems. Fixing problems makes you good, but taking advantage of the right opportunities can make you great.
e. Good to great teams had a good sense of balance with the rest of their lives- family, church, and so on.

3.Confront the Brutal Facts-
a. If people aren’t telling it like it is, those at the top may not realize the truth until too late. Here are some tips:
i. It’s often better to ask questions rather than dispense “answers.”
ii. Encourage healthy debate. It has to be real debate, not a show put on to make people feel included. It should also not just be an argument for the sake of argument- reach a conclusion and move on.
iii. When things go wrong, investigate to avoid repeating the mistake, instead of assigning blame. If people are too worried about protecting themselves, it becomes difficult to honestly analyze and learn from failures.
iv. Create mechanisms, “red flags” that allow people to communicate problems instantly and without repercussions, and in a way that cannot be ignored.

4.The Hedgehog Concept-
a. Refers to the parable of a hedgehog and a fox. The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing. Good to great companies were built by hedgehogs.
b. They were able to focus on one big important thing that made their companies great.
c. The “three circles” idea is how you find your hedgehog concept; these three interlocking circles represent:
i. What you are passionate about,
ii. What you can make money at, and
iii. What you can be the best at.
d. Avoid the things you will never be best at! (I know, horrible grammar)
e. Passion does not come from executive rah-rah sessions with employees, but by doing things that make people passionate on their own.

5.Culture of Discipline-
a. Great companies have both the entrepreneurial spirit and a sense of discipline.
b. Without the drive to try new things, and some degree of independence, a company becomes a rigid, stifling hierarchy.
c. Stop doing things that are just clutter, even if they seem important, if they are not in your three circles.

a. “Great companies adapt and endure” – technology is not a differentiator in and of itself, but rather something that enhances great companies.
b. They don’t rush to embrace it for the sake of its newness.
c. Judicious use of technology can help accelerate momentum- but won’t light a fire where there is none.
d. Technology as a reaction- to the latest fashion, to the competition- was not found at great companies.
e. These companies possess a drive all their own that pushes them to be the best in their field, and picking the right technology is a natural part of that.

7.The Flywheel and Doom Loop-
a. These 2 concepts represent positive and negative momentum.
b. The Flywheel is a steady momentum, not quick acceleration, that uses its stored energy to keep it moving in the right direction.
c. The Doom Loop is a vicious circle that moves quickly in one direction, then quickly in another, in the hope of creating a sudden, sharp break with the past that will propel them to success.
d. The differences between the 2 approaches is characterized by the slow, steady, methodical preparation inherent in the flywheel, as compared to the abrupt, radical, and often revolutionary, rather than evolutionary changes within a company.

*Because it’s not really that much harder to be great than good, and if you’re not motivated to greatness, perhaps you should consider doing something else where you are.

Agree? Disagree? Who would like to start the discussion?

Hopefully Helpful Notes – Death by Meeting

Death by Meeting – notes

1. Meetings are what leaders do, and the solution to bad meetings is not the elimination of them, but rather the transformation of them into meaningful, engaging, and relevant activities.

2. The key to improving meetings has nothing to do with better preparation, agendas, or minutes.
a.Meetings need drama
b.Meetings need context and purpose

3. Leaders need to put the right issues on the table at the beginning of their meetings. (these are often the most controversial ones)

4. Leaders need to make it clear to team members why the meeting is taking place and what is expected of them.

5. Keep it simple; less is more- mentality.

6. Four distinct meetings on a regular basis:
a.The Daily Check-in- no more than 5-10 minutes. Keeps team members aligned and to provide a daily forum for activity updates and scheduling.
b.The Weekly Tactical- (like a staff meeting) about an hour long and should focus on the discussion and resolution of issues which effect near term objectives. Best with no pre-set agenda. Instead, the team reviews priorities and decide what to discuss. The key is having the discipline to identify and postpone the discussion of more strategic topics.
c. The Monthly Strategic- appropriate place for big topics, those that have long-term impact. Participants can brainstorm, debate, present ideas and wrestle with one another in pursuit of the optimal long-term solution. Each meeting should include no more than 1-2 topics with roughly 2 hours for each topic.
d.The Quarterly Off-Site Review- a reassessment of a variety of issues: the interpersonal performance of the team, the company’s strategy, the performance of the top-tier and bottom-tier employees, morale, competitive threats, and industry trends.

Death by Meeting part 2

The final part of The Fable includes the genius ideas of Will and how he introduced them to Casey’s executives. To summarize, he came up with 4 meeting types:
Daily Check-in
Weekly Tactical
Monthly Strategic
Quarterly Off-Site Review

Personally, I like the idea of the daily check-in. It would keep me focused as well as help me know what others are working on.

The next part of the book is The Model… which means the storytelling is over 😦

My mother-in-law arrives tomorrow, I will try to update when possible.

Have a great week,

Death by Meeting

I chose to begin with Death by Meeting because I like a good story. As you start the book, you will get hooked and find yourself reading a big chunk in a sitting. The book is made up of 2 parts: The Fable and The Model. This post is about the first half of The Fable, pages 3-125.

The Fable

THE MAN: It was interesting to get Casey’s perspective of meetings. He didn’t like them. They gave him indigestion. These feelings began 10 minutes before the weekly meeting started. Meetings started on time and ended on time. Excuses by colleagues were made in order to get out of attending. When dialogue got lively, they moved on to the next topic. Casey doesn’t like conflict and confrontation. The new boss attended one of these meetings and was so dismayed by the unproductivity and lack of inspiration, that he began to have doubts as to whether Casey should continue running this company.

WILL POWER: Will is a temp who has Tourette’s tendencies. It seems to appear at work when he’s completely bored and frustrated with others’ lack of productivity. Will is extrememly bright and is deciding his future- film maker, psychotherapist, advertising exec… this guy can do it all. Casey trusts Will and asks for his honest opinion. After some research, Will has a plan. His question to the Admin Team is this… Why is it that we can be completely engaged in a movie (for 2 hours) that has nothing to do with us, yet we can be completely disengaged in a meeting that has everything to do with us (a job we should be passionate about, colleagues we respect, our future)? Go to page 118 and read this very short chapter, The Hook, starring Will. While you’re at it, continue on to the next chapter, Mining.

It would be great to get some dialogue going. Please feel free to comment, ask a question, or correct my grammar. More to follow…
Enjoy your Summer,