Friday, March 09, 2007

You Can Multi-task But Your Company Cannot

Yesterday, Verne Harnish, a start-up growth guru, visited Hummer Winblad.

Verne, founder of Gazelles Inc, is a thought-leader in start-up growth management and the author of a must-read book, Mastering the Rockefeller Habits. Please see my detailed post on the book here.

Verne's book is based on the management style of John D Rockefeller, whose management style centered on three key areas:
  • priorities
    • define the 1-5 most important organizational objectives
  • data
    • identify and manage to the key metrics and leading indicators, and
  • rhythm
    • run a well-organized set of daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly meetings that keep everyone aligned and accountable
The core premise is that success is the sum total of all decisions being made in an organization. Leaders/managers influence decisions, and hence success, and need a framework regarding how best to do so.

Verne led eight Humwin CEOs through a presentation on how best to master, manage, and benefit from growth.

While the session proved rich in content, one lesson struck me as particularly profound.

"You Can Multi-task, but remember that your company cannot."

Entrepreneurs are by definition multi-taskers - they can juggle five to six balls at once and switch gears with no loss of momentum . Too often entrepreneurs ascribe to their companies those same capabilities and are amazed when people and organizations complain about being whipsawed and of being uncertain as to priorities and direction.

How best can a leader ensure a company moves quickly and as one? A leader must strive to harness the collective energy of an organization by defining common objectives and a common cadence.

Changing focus leads to energy diffusion, loss of momentum, plunging moral, and organizational confusion.

Think about crew...a boat with eight oars pulling to the same rhythm almost leaps out of the water...if the cadence is out of synch the boat wallows...

Organizations that shine channel energy towards common goals and benefit from the cumulative leverage of many brains and hearts focusing on the same objectives. An entrepreneur simply cannot run a company the way he runs his day.

The challenge for start-ups often lies in how quickly the market, product, and opportunity changes.

The great leaders, however, insulate their companies from the pernicious effects of course correction and shifting objectives and see the benefits of harnessing energy rather than unintentionally diffussing it.

1 comment:

  1. Cate L3:40 PM

    Really well said...thanks...

    "Organizations that shine channel energy towards common goals and benefit from the cumulative leverage of many brains and hearts focusing on the same objectives."

    Building big, lasting things takes a good plan and many bright minds...