Businessperson of the Year; Power of Poland; Message for the G20
November 18, 2010
5 Business Killers
November 29, 2010

5 Strategic Mistakes; Success in India; Grandfather of America; Italian Island

"…keeping you great"


Grandfather of America (US) — Happy Thanksgiving Week for those celebrating this US holiday. Brad Smart, the father of Topgrading (the only hiring method that garners a 90% success rate) suggests in his blog this week that the Pilgrims recruited an "A" player, William Bradford, to lead their Plymouth Colony. Take five minutes and read his e-newsletter to your children, providing them an historical perspective on Thanksgiving not taught in school.

Five Strategic Planning Mistakes (need your stories) — this is the topic of my next Fortune column. Email me at [email protected] if you're guilty of any of the following and then fixed them — let me know which one(s) and we'll call to do a quick interview for the column:

  1. Playing Not to Lose vs. Playing to Win — were you generally playing defense and have now gone of the offensive?

  2. Making Decisions in a Vacuum — did the executive team set priorities without intimate contact with customers and now you have a process of gathering customer input before making strategic decisions?

  3. Doing Everything Customers Ask — in turn, the quickest way to commoditization is augmenting your products/services until they look the same as everyone else. Do you have a filter through which you put customer suggestions?

  4. Keeping Middle Management in the Dark — did strategic planning primarily involve only the senior team or are you engaging middle management more to create better buy-in?

  5. Setting Too Many Priorities — did your strategic planning session generate a list of 75 "to do's" and now you stick to three to five clear priorities for the coming year?

Vacation Planning — this is the time of the year when families start thinking about their plans for next summer (Northern Hemisphere). One option — join my family (four children 14, 12, 7, and 3) for a multi-sport (biking, hiking, canoeing) tour of the Italian island paradise of Sardegna the week of July 4. The tour will be led by Gazelles' fan Lauren Hefferon, owner of Italy's top bike touring company Ciclismo Classico. Lauren's family will be along for the journey as well. Our last two trips have been our favorite vacation experiences. Here's a link to more info.

India Tour Next Week — I hope to meet many of you in Mumbai 1st December and Bangalore 2nd December. Our Four Decisions "Growth Tools" are having a huge impact in India:

  • Pangea3 — One of our major clients, Pangea3 (outsourced legal), was just purchased by Thomson Reuters last Thursday. Noted Sanjay Kamlani, Co-CEO of Pangea3, "your tools have played an integral role in our success over the years. As we move forward to build Pangea3 within the Thomson Reuters portfolio of legal businesses, your continued guidance and coaching will be crucial. We expect what has been 100%+ annual growth to turn into 3X to 5X growth at a minimum and that accelerated growth is going to necessitate even faster and more intense learning and implementation of management and leadership best practices. We are instituting a CEO leadership seminar/book club this month where I will guide a group of about 20 of our senior managers reading through your recommended books and talking through their application to our business and our people. We are starting with Switch." Sanjay's team is committed to learning and will be in our session, again, next week.

  • Benetton India — again generating tremendous growth and profits this past year, CEO Sanjeev Mohanty continues to be a great student of the Rockefeller Habits. Notes Sanjeev "we are getting a huge response from consumers because of our customer service policy and speed of response. We promise to respond to customers for all queries directed to our corporate e-mail within 24 hours and solve all issues within 48 working hours. This is an initiative we have been driving the last 6 months and our teams are passionately and intensely involved with delighting consumers and winning them back. All the queries come to me directly also. I respond to the most disgruntled customers within 15 minutes of receiving their mail and call them up within 24 hours personally without exception. This works like magic. Just wanted to share this with you."

  • QuEST Global — ranked World No.1 in Engineering Service Outsourcing by the Black Book of Outsourcing 2009, Ajay Prabhu has implemented what he calls the "Gazelles Movement" within QuEST as they head to $500 million — referring to his people as "gazelles". Notes Ajay "We have shown immense discipline as Gazelles in meeting once a month, adopting Top 3 priorities each quarter and continuing to work them to closure over a period of time. Gazelles' group has been instrumental in quickly raising organizational maturity." It's the transition from entrepreneurial firm to professionally managed that is the main challenge in fast growth India.

  • Perfetti Van Melle India — run by a dynamic young CEO, Sameer Suneja, Perfetti is the #1 confectioner in India, beating Hershey, Cadbury's, and all the other global players. With 3000 employees and another 3000 distributors, Sameer's focus is on "growing our people as fast as we're growing their jobs." We'll be assisting Sameer's senior team for the first time next week.

Verne Harnish
Verne Harnish
Verne Harnish is founder of the world-renowned Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) and chaired for fifteen years EO’s premiere CEO program, the “Birthing of Giants” and WEO’s “Advanced Business” executive program both held at MIT. Founder and CEO of Gazelles, a global executive education and coaching company with over 150 coaching partners on six continents, Verne has spent the past three decades helping companies scale-up. The “Growth Guy” syndicated columnist, he’s also the Venture columnist for FORTUNE magazine. He’s the author of Scaling Up (Rockefeller Habits 2.0); Mastering the Rockefeller Habits; and along with the editors of Fortune, authored The Greatest Business Decisions of All Times," for which Jim Collins wrote the foreword. Verne also chairs FORTUNE Magazine’s annual Leadership and Growth Summits and serves on several boards including chairman of The Riordan Clinic and the newly launched Geoversity. He is an investor in many scale-ups. A father of four, he enjoys piano, tennis, and magic as a card-carrying member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.