Deepening Relationships; Education for Customers; Leadership vs. Growth
March 15, 2011
Legend Bill Bowerman; Cognitive Health; Where Good Ideas Come From; Rhythm Webcast
March 24, 2011

Second Favorite CEO; Gates Big Deal; Performance Reviews; Mobility Works Generosity

"…keeping you great"

HEADLINES: (Lots of great stuff from Fortune this week – and happy St. Pats!)

Atlassian Innovates the Performance Review — as Aubrey Daniels notes in his book Oops, "there are a lot less expensive ways to piss people off." And the performance review process is one of those management practices Daniels lambasts. Australian-based Atlassian, one of the best run growth firms in the world, agrees, as described in this recent Fortune article. Though they are still innovating, in essence, they've replaced the annual review with a more ongoing process of conversations (what Daniels has always recommended) focused on enhancing strengths (Marcus Buckingham's point). Some key elements, to quote from the article:

·         Replace it with a series of monthly one-on-one meetings with a rotating agenda of "check-ins". Scrap the ratings and the distribution curve

·         Replace individual performance bonuses with top-market salaries, an organizational bonus, and stock options (don't fully agree – see below)

·         Redesign the review into "bite-sized chunks" of guided coaching conversations focused on strengths

·         Provide honest feedback without ratings: highlight instances of exceptional performance (and note frequency on a continuum of "never to always"); ask the question "how often have you stretched yourself"

·         Provide peer feedback and rewards

I strongly agree with all but the second point. Compensation, first and foremost, must align with your culture. Eliminating individual performance bonuses fits Atlassian's culture – but might not fit yours. Click here for my five rules for structuring compensation.

Inside the Deal that Made Bill Gates $350 million — on the 25th anniversary of Microsoft going public, Fortune has republished their 1986 cover story on the anatomy of the deal – a minute-by-minute blow of the negotiations, meetings, and decisions. For a business junky like me, it was so much fun to reread. For the rest of you, click on the link just to see what Bill Gates looked like back then and read the last couple of paragraphs of the article describing what Bill and some of his people did with the proceeds from their IPO – especially the programmer who used part of his $200k to expand his work hours by hiring a housekeeper – that's dedication!

Second Favorite CEO in the World — next to Ratan Tata, Sam Palmisano, CEO of IBM, is my favorite big company CEO. Taking over in 2002, while everyone else has used the "lost decade" as an excuse, IBM's earnings have quadrupled and the stock is up 57%. What can growth company leaders learn from Palmisano? Get out of the office and TALK TO CUSTOMERS EVERY WEEK!! I love this line about Palmisano in the latest Fortune piece on IBM "And when he travels, he often leaves time for a solo walk around town to see what people are buying. 'You can read all the economic data, but you're not going to get a sense" of your customers, he says, explaining, "If I'm not with somebody, I'm on the phone with somebody."

You Can't Fire Everyone…and Fortune deputy managing editor, Hank Gilman's, book came out today. Entitled You Can't Fire Everyone: And Other Lessons from an Accidental Manager, Gilman is a superb story teller who extracts lessons from the countless leaders he's interviewed and from his own experience as a writer who found himself thrust into managing people (prima-donnas mostly!), something he's been doing, now, for almost three decades. Chapter 9 entitled "There's No Such Thing as a Small Role" is particularly important for new managers to read. Chapter 8 covers ten etiquettes of email. And Chapter 6, entitled "The Well-Behaved Manager" is my favorite, including his advice to defend your staff. It's the basics, shared in an entertaining way, that matter the most to all new and experienced managers.

Mobility Works Generosity — American Idol fans are well aware of Chris Medina's story, the contestant caring for his wheelchair-bound fiancée, Juliana, who was terribly hurt in a car accident just weeks before being married. After seeing the episode, Mobility Works, one of Gazelles best clients, donated a fully equipped vehicle to Chris and Juliana. "We know how much an accessible van can totally change her life and allow you to have the courage to just get out and go to a restaurant," said Bill Koeblitz, CEO of Mobility Works. We're so proud to be working with them. Here's a link to the ABC News story.

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.