Two Critical Books; Jim Collins Update; Andrew Sherman’s Best; Oct 14 Webcast
October 11, 2011
Bigger Impact Than Jobs; Runs Pretty Much Everything; Tech Titan Dennis Ritchie
October 20, 2011

Bozo Explosion; IdeaFlash; Life and Death; Atul Gawande’s Latest

"…keeping you great"


Why Surgeons Need a Coach — Nathan Gray, head of EarthTrain, pointed me to this rather lengthy October 3rd New Yorker article by one of my favorite writers, Atul Gawande (Checklist Manifesto), on why surgeons need a coach. He notes that all professionals reach a plateau and require a coach to get them to the next level.

Appletree Answers' IdeaFlash — aligned with their Q4 theme Flash Forward, John Ratliff, CEO of Appletree, updated me on their new employee feedback system in reaction to the idea that "the most brains wins." Notes Ratliff, "we increased our spend with from $175,000 a year to about $400,000 a year to put a tool on every single employee desktop called 'Idea Flash' that we developed on that platform in-house. In short, it gives every single employee, from a 15 hour a week part timer to our COO the ability to submit an idea 'in a flash.'".

Launch Cost and Video — continues Ratliff, "The frontline Experts don't even have to hesitate in their call to Flash an Idea. Total development cost was about $50k. Huge investment for us but the results have been great so far. It's still very early but I can make the case it is paying for itself multiple times." Here's a link to Appletree's 5 minute quarterly theme launch video – always entertaining and shows you some of the IdeaFlash screens. They also created some educational videos on using IdeaFlash – these give you more details if interested:

         #1 – Getting Started
       #2 – Using IdeaFlash
       #3 – Following Up On Flashes

The Bozo Explosionit's worth 4 minutes to peruse Guy Kawasaki's 12 lessons from Steve Jobs, worthy because he worked directly with/for Jobs. I particularly like #9 — precisely why hiring the right people (Topgrading) is still one of the two most important leadership skills, negotiation being the other (High Stakes Negotiations):

  • A players hire A+ players
    Actually, Steve believed that A players hire A players-that is people who are as good as they are. I refined this slightly-my theory is that A players hire people even better than themselves. It's clear, though, that B players hire C players so they can feel superior to them, and C players hire D players. If you start hiring B players, expect what Steve called "the bozo explosion" to happen in your organization.

It's then imperative to keep you're A players great, keeping the bozo explosion at bay! It's not surprising that Steve Jobs primary focus the past two years was on Apple University.

Herb Kelleher's Evening — Jim Collins notes in his latest book, Great by Choice (BTW, it's better than I expected, and I already expected greatness), that even though Herb Kelleher, CEO of Southwest Airlines, was known for his various antics, no one worked harder. And after long days, "he'd settle down before bed to make progress on reading the thousands of books scattered about his home." It doesn't surprise me that the guy who built the best performing company between 1972 and 2002, in the most turbulent industry, was a voracious learner. Greatness doesn't happen by accident!

You Don't Wait — one team lived; one team died. Collins uses the Scott/Amundsen's comparative race to the South Pole to underscore the main points of the book. My favorite paragraph in the book so far:

  •  Amundsen's philosophy: You don't wait until you're in an unexpected storm to discover that you need more  strength and endurance. You don't wait until you're shipwrecked to determine if you can eat raw dolphin. You  don't wait until you're on the Antarctic journey to become a superb skier and dog handler. You prepare with intensity, all the time, so that when conditions turn against you, you can draw from a deep reservoir of strength (knowledge). And equally, you prepare so that when conditions turn in your favor, you can strike hard.

You Can't Wait — so it drives me absolutely nuts when people say "well we're already working on several initiatives and our plates are too full to learn more right now." Instead, you need to pack ideas in as quickly as possible when first available, not knowing when you'll need them, but trusting your brain will surface them almost magically when needed – but they have to be in your brain in the first place.

Webcast Tomorrow — Need Help Developing a Winning 2012 Annual Plan? Join Patrick Thean, CEO of Gazelles Systems and author of Execute without Drama, as he takes you through the 4 Secrets to Develop a Winning Annual Plan for 2012. The webcast is on Friday, October 14th at 1:00 EST. This is a special webcast invitation for companies with at least $10 million in annual revenue. REGISTER NOW.

Learn How to:

  • Focus Your Team on the Right Key Initiatives for 2012
  • Build a Solid Execution Plan
  • Make Sure that You Have an "A+" Execution Team
  • Attack Weaknesses in Your Plan with our Annual Plan Checklist Tool
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.