4 Buffett Rules; 1 Key Influencer; 7 Lessons from Dad; Young Inventor’s Mom
May 7, 2015
Don’t Do This to a Friend; 3 Investing Criteria; Lessons from Billionaires; Toronto and Dubai Workshops
May 21, 2015

Elon’s constraint; Best biz book; Meeting Stucks; 10x the team

"…insights for scale-ups"


Control the Constraint — I still consider the late Eli Goldratt's classic book The Goal one of the top five biz books of all time. One of the first business books to teach in parable, he details his "Theory of Constraints" and how you're wasting your time and resources if not directed at the constraint (chokepoint) – within you, your business, and ultimately within your industry and the world.

Industry Constraints — John D. Rockefeller bought up all the oak barrels since the transport of oil was the constraint (he later went on to focus most of his efforts on the railroad and boat transport of oil). A hundred years later, Apple bought up the rights to the Toshiba flash drive that powered the first iPods – and launched iTunes to address the real constraint in the distribution of digital music. Robert Taylor, the entrepreneur behind Softsoap, spent $12 million to lock up the spring pump supply to protect him from Colgate Palmolive and P&G (detailed in my second book The Greatest Business Decisions of All Time). So, what is the constraint in your industry? How are you addressing/controlling it?

Batteries are the Constraint — Elon Musk is doing precisely the same thing by focusing on batteries, notes Matt Jones with Austin-based Gossett Jones Homes in a recent email to me. Jones goes on to explain:

Several years ago, the biggest concern for electric cars future was their short battery life and that they would "never be mainstream" until this was addressed. Now Tesla has constructed a gigafactory in Nevada and is cranking out batteries left and right. What's even more amazing is they aren't only for cars. Tesla has announced batteries for homes.

As a home builder, Jones is tuned into this opportunity. And he's right – Musk is aiming to control a key constraint in producing electric cars and harnessing solar energy. "A Tesla battery in every car and home" (my suggested BHAG) sounds a lot like Honda's "engine in every garage" and Microsoft's "on every PC and desk and mobile."

Jone's Constraint — and thank you Matt for this additional note "Just wanted to drop a note of appreciation for the Scaling Up book and also the Scaling Up Master Course (online). We love it. 2 years ago we failed to implement the Rockefeller Habits because we came on too quick. This time we have the company on a One Thing Priority for the quarter & year and people are really buying in this time, one bite at a time." The best way to implement the Rockefeller Habits 2.0 is to follow the constraint – one priority at a time.

Stuck? Better Daily Standup Meetings — Ireland-based The City Bin Co. (featured prominently in my book Scaling Up) continues to evolve our methodologies, including the daily huddle. Notes Parisch Browne, IT Manager, "I want to share a few small points that we have introduced here about a month ago. They have completely transformed our Dominic St. team stand-up:"

  1. Changed the word 'stuck' to 'blocker' as people (generally) do not want to admit that they are stuck.
  2. Clearly defined a blocker so that there is a shared understanding of what size and shape it is. For this particular team, a blocker is any issue (usually coding) that they have not been able to solve themselves within 1/2 day. (This does not preclude them for asking for help before this)
  3. Introduced a sliotar (ball). The person with the ball starts, and can throw it to anyone in the circle. The last person takes the ball away and starts the meeting 'tomorrow'. I was reluctant to introduce the ball as it seems a bit 'happy-clappy', but it has given the biggest benefit. Everyone is engaged, as they need to be ready to catch and share their information and they also have to remember who has spoken and has yet to speak. Previously everyone just looked at me and reported info to me; now they are all engaged and sharing with their peers.

Sums up Browne, "The meeting (within days) changed from boring & stale into a very good exchange of info and positive peer-assistance, and the team having a laugh with the ball (even when there are issues to solve)."

Stuck on Stucks — Browne's point is well taken. Those familiar with the three agenda items we recommend for a daily huddle, we're finding that the term "stuck" is a sticking point with many people (and cultures). So pick a term that works better for your team – block, constraint, chokepoint, roadblock, concern – the key is to share something very specific and avoid generalities e.g. "I'm unable to move this contract forward waiting for a final decision from Dave on suggested pricing changes." The key – identify and focus, immediately, on the constraints every day.

10 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings – and thanks to Bill Becker, CEO & Design Director of BDI, for sharing this hilarious but often accurate link on 10 ways to appear smart in meetings.

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What is the value of working with a Certified Gazelles International Coach? There are four key roles a coach plays in helping your company Scale Up…listen here to learn.


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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.