Author: Geoff Colvin
Who should read it: CEOs, Company Founders, Entrepreneurs ««««« I highly recommend reading it and I have outlined here some of the key points [in conjunction with the author] and their relevance for founders/entrepreneurs. Here are my top 5 take aways: Founders know this – they succeed because they know ANYTHING is possible so long as you are committed to success and willing to work at the problem. Don’t question success or your own pre-existing limitations: channel that energy into becoming the best at what you do.
1) Shatter any illusion that your team is limited by what they know and do today
Who should read it: CEOs, Company Founders, Entrepreneurs
I highly recommend reading it and I have outlined here some of the key points [in conjunction with the author] and their relevance for founders/entrepreneurs.
Here are my top 5 take aways:
Founders know this – they succeed because they know ANYTHING is possible so long as you are committed to success and willing to work at the problem. Don’t question success or your own pre-existing limitations: channel that energy into becoming the best at what you do.
2) Determine the key skills you and your team need to master what you have set out do
Founders do this by quickly moving on from ‘ last big problem’ to ‘next big problem’ . They are captivated by a vision and the process of making it a reality by solving pieces of the puzzle. When they and their team have mastered enough unique skills and capabilities they have a differentiated solution in the market that has value to its customers. That’s entrepreneurship.
You build great results by dedicated work, practice and innovation. The cycle has to be repeated incessantly. To be better than everyone else you have to work on the problem more than anyone else in your unique way. Founders with the dedication and focus to do this will tell you that’s what makes them successful. Instilling this approach in your team means you can grow the company beyond the limits of your own bandwidth.
4) Innovate ways to improve the pace of learning:
Discuss and predict outcomes of meetings; debrief lessons learned; tap outside experts to coach on key areas of learning; compare notes with other founders; simulate key activities to improve outcomes; copy best practices and innovate them; study the deals lost by you and your competitors – learn from them. Maximize your learning.
5) Get your team to work together to tackle skill development as a group
Use teams to look at your processes and problems ripe for improvement, and then make recommendations. Create teams with members from different areas and disciplines to bring learning from and to different parts of your business. Keep creating new teams for new challenges.
The book outlines specific steps you can take to achieve these steps, primarily on an individual basis but also, to some extent, as a group. I have used many of the techniques, both for myself and to improve activities in the bootstrapped companies I have started and/or grown. I have found them to be extremely effective and know them to be directly responsible for significant accomplishments . Tackling and mastering one skill makes you or your team a little better than your competitors in the focused problem you are trying to solve in the market: solving 10 makes you significantly better. After 5 to 10 years of steadily innovating by developing and mastering unique skills, your solution becomes so differentiated and valuable that you clearly stand out from your competitors. The key is time and dedication, focusing on developing the right set of skills that, when combined, make you a market standout.
My suggestion to CEOs, business leaders and founders is to read this book. If the above points resonate with you after reading it, have all your executives read it. Then have the team map out all the things your organization needs to be good at to be the market leader. Create teams to tackle the most important skills in each category – being large enough to have more than one team means you can get some competition going among the team leaders - which is always healthy for superior results. Set high goals and have the team present their recommendations for achieving your objectives. In this way your organization will be working to teach and improve itself, with your guidance, to become a market leader. The reward for all this hard work?... Your executives will not only work for a standout market leader that is the best in its field – they will have created one. And the ability to accomplish that is the rarest skill of all.
A comment added by the book's author, Geoff Colvin on 11/19/2009:
"Javier, you amaze me with your insight into how the principles in my book can be applied in companies. One of the reasons I wrote the book is that these principles are powerful -- and are tremendously effective in sports, music, the military, and other fields -- yet I saw few companies using them. The opportunity is clearly huge, but I didn't know whether companies would embrace it. I'm happy to report that companies are doing so, and you are doing it with a degree of imagination and enthusiasm that I just love. So congratulations on all that you're doing, thank you for your kind words, and I hope you inspire many more people in business".