Reading: Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish

by Helene Malmsio

Interesting classic how-to book from a decade ago in that you don’t just get a bunch of theories or strategies outlined for you to work out how to implement later in your organisation. This book is a guide that gives you the actual tools and then tells you how to use them.

Quote:“These three Rockefeller Habits - priorities, data, and rhythm - are the key tools for handling the barriers that come with growth and keeping the company aligned.”

The book goes on to cover those three methods of operation in detail, for large business. Mastering the Rockefeller Habits: What You Must Do to Increase the Value of Your Growing Firm does also cover many aspects of the growth pains a small company or even SOHO goes through once you begin to employ staff.

For instance, I always find that the first handful of employees is great fun ... then you begin to feel the loss of direct contact when you have 15 staff. After 30+ staff it then just becomes bloody hard work when you are seemingly in endless rounds of meetings to try and manage their activities and desperately doing what you can to help them in keeping some alignment with your original vision.

It can become lonely, and it stops being fun when it feels like you have to push the company in the most desirable directions without the team being able to see what you are working towards.

There are some great activities for you and your team to undertake in this book, to develop a shared vision, report on your results and helpful downloads you can get from their website as well. It is a book of practical tools, for you to put in direct application.

My personal take from the book right now, since currently I’m only outsourcing online not employing my help, is that I need to get my own act together and simplify... to set my longer vision eg 10 -25 years and then to just focus on what I need to do NOW by setting myself ONE Quarterly goal on that path to my longer vision.

You can see how this would work well across the board in larger companies too, and that is what the book outlines.

I love quarterly goals, as I can see the end for each stage... Especially if its difficult work you don’t enjoy, its hard to stick to something if in your mind its a ‘forever’ proposition, so having 90 day goals makes every stage bearable... since its only for 3 months in each goal you are chunking down.
It also gives your team more immediate gratification and milestones to celebrate, instead of being on a treadmill of ‘forever’ chores.

Quote:“Defining a simple long-term vision 10–25 years out and deciding on a handful of priorities for the next quarter are the two most important decisions a business leader makes.
And it’s this yin and yang of having both a long-term “rarely changes” piece alongside a short-term “changes a lot” dynamic piece that provides the delicate balance needed to drive superior performance.”

There is a strong focus on concentrating on only ONE thing at a time... I guess its like “the man who chases two rabbits catches none” premise... “The old saw is true: The organization with too many priorities has no priorities.”

“What separates a plan on paper from one that lives and breathes on its own? It’s an idea, an image—in short, an organizing theme. That’s what transforms a mere managerial goal into a company-wide mission.”

I’m not detailing much of the rest of the book strategies because its largely covering methods and strategies I have already assimilated over the past 30 years and I advocate for others to try, so get the book and start to apply them in your business.
When it comes to doing a review of your progress its worth considering the daily team meetings... the book has some great examples of strategies that work... short 15 minutes and number based.

And you are not off the hook if you work alone ... you need to do your own accountability every day... you choose when, but check if you did what you were supposed to achieve – and put those painful target numbers in there if you want to be truly accountable, and plan your next day the night before including setting the numbers you need to meet in your activities.

Another way to look at what you are doing is to ask yourself WHY you are doing what’s on your To Do list. It is to achieve a step in the bigger picture for the quarterly goal. Don’t just set a task/goal for the day to ‘write some blog/content’... instead set a specific and MEASURABLE target of say “5 pages/2,000 words of content in 2 hours timeframe” and make yourself perform instead of just mindlessly ‘doing’ what you think you should be doing.

Mastering the Rockefeller Habits concludes with a large section on business finance that will be well used by entrepreneurs seeking investors and lenders to grow their business. It includes many, many case examples for your reference.

Once again, this book delivers the actual tools for you to use, not just theories... in my opinion if you use it you will grow your enterprise.

THIS BOOK HAS BEEN UPDATED AND REPLACED BY Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It...and Why the Rest Don’t (Rockefeller Habits 2.0). Scaling Up is a re-formatted, full-color version of Mastering the Rockefeller Habits with new material not found in the original.

Get your copy of the book here, or check out the other reviews: Mastering the Rockefeller Habits

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