Scaling Up by Verne Harnish stands out in the category of business books. It provides an actionable, pre-defined framework for growing your company, complete with valuable forms and exercises that enable you to incorporate the book’s lessons into your business.
Scaling Up is completely customizable — a hundred different CEOs could read the book and use it to navigate a hundred different paths to success. My team and I started with Harnish’s meeting cadence, setting up daily, weekly, quarterly and annual meetings, each with a different emphasis. For example, at our daily meetings, our focus is the immediate obstacles in our path: What is standing in the way of an incredible 24 hours?
We found the most revolutionary forms in the book to be the One-Page Strategic Plan and the Face and Pace. The One-Page Plan enables you to identify the core values of your business — things that should never change, no matter what. You then sketch out your 10-year, blue-sky goal and a three to five-year outlook. Finally, you outline your next 365 days: pinpointing five to seven major objectives, developing a quarterly plan and choosing your primary goal for the next three months. It’s more work upfront, but your daily goals feel more motivated.<
The Face and Pace is a functional accountability chart that establishes who is responsible for what. Harnish believes that every line item on your profit and loss statement should be owned by someone. We struggled with this form; it was painful to see areas where no one was responsible or where responsibilities overlapped. When we completed the chart, it didn’t follow the book’s framework at all, but it accurately described us.
With any practical guidebook, outcomes are everything. The meeting cadence has given us a structured way to address common goals. Initially, I was afraid of the daily huddle, but now I can’t imagine running my business without it. Any business leader knows that there’s a disconnect between what’s really going and what should be going on. Adam describes the daily huddle’s effect on communication as being like going into battle with two-way radios instead of couriers.
The framework has enabled me to delegate more effectively. Once we restructured to match the framework, the Face and Pace exercise went from being discouraging to exciting. Recently, the Vigilix Leadership Team met to review the 2017 budget. I brought the administrative budget, Kevin brought the operational budget, and Adam brought the marketing budget. We have never had a clearer view of the year ahead, our risks and opportunities and what we need to do.
Scaling Up is a valuable book for any business leader, especially one reflecting on past performance or formulating plans. The book’s framework is both prescriptive and, simultaneously, a process of discovery. After three iterations, our process continues to become more refined and our team continues to gain clarity — as though we have cellophane wrapped around our heads and each year we get to remove another layer.
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Andrew is the CEO of Vigilix. His background includes owning and running businesses as well as understanding the financial aspects of business.