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Feeling frustrated by slow progress? | Issue #125

How to Create a Culture of Discipline for Growth

Feeling overwhelmed?  Or frustrated by slow progress? You’re not alone.  When they first come to me, my CEO clients are often incredibly busy.  It’s a struggle keeping their heads above water, particularly over the past year.  But their busy-ness hasn’t translated into the profitable growth they’d like. 

To me, their businesses resemble a tangled ball of wool you find at the bottom of a drawer.  Over the months and years, we tease out the knots and unravel everything – then wrap it up again in an ordered pattern.  Bit by bit. 

This takes effort and commitment.  And discipline.  Discipline to continually test and refine the assumptions they’ve made in their business plan.  It’s easy to pick figures out of the air and draw up an Excel spreadsheet showing you’re going to scale your company.  It’s much harder to build a business model that makes this a reality. 

Often, it boils down to cultural change.  And this is what I help my clients to fix.  If you can move to a deliberate culture founded on disciplined thought and action, you can achieve that profitable business you’ve always craved.  But don’t expect it to be easy. Particularly at the moment when remote working is making it much harder to achieve cultural uniformity.

In Conversation With The Lean Startup Legend, Steve Blank

Today’s guest needs no introduction. Essentially, if you run a startup and you haven’t heard of Steve Blank, can you even call yourself an entrepreneur?

Steve is the ultimate serial entrepreneur, retiring in 1999 with eight high technology startups under his belt. He coined the term ‘customer development’, codifying what that was in the inaugural start up book, The Four Steps to the Epiphany – the start up book that kickstarted the lean startup revolution. 

He then went on to teach a course at Stanford based on what he had codified around startups and what makes the successful ones successful. And one of the guys on his course was a chap called Eric Ries, who you might have heard of for writing a book called The Lean Startup

Then he found himself on the front cover of Harvard Business Review and his book and that, as they say, is history. Steve went on to change the way the world thinks about startups. 

This is truly a fascinating conversation, we talk about what the job of the CEO is, what customer development is, why innovation is so hard and why established businesses hit a plateau.

Success Talks

Successful Voiceover Actor, Singer and Author Rodney Saulsberry, discusses and highlights the careers of successful personalities in all walks of life and their roads to success!

Building a culture of learning at work

A few years ago, leaders at the Gates Foundation reached out to see if I could help them improve their culture. They already had a strong culture of performance: They hired world-class scientists and maintained excellence of execution. Their goal was to improve their learning culture, in which people have the humility to know what they don’t know and the curiosity to rethink the way they’ve always done things.

New Year, New You! The boom in executive coaching

New Year is a busy time for Catherine Devitt. “People are thinking, ‘What next?’” she says. Grappling with such existential questions is a fundamental part of her working life, though she is not a religious minister. For the first week in January is when the chief executive of Meyler Campbell, a London-based executive coaching group, receives a surge in the number of inquiries from people requesting a coach.

How to Increase Psychological Safety in a Virtual Team

Remote work is here to stay. As most teams continue to work from home – either by chance or design – communication, collaboration, and interpersonal relationships take a toll. Virtual practices undermine psychological safety, requiring teams to pay attention to how to (re)build collective trust.

Outsiders by William N Thorndike Jr

What makes a successful CEO? Most people call to mind a familiar definition: “a seasoned manager with deep industry expertise.” Others might point to the qualities of today’s so-called celebrity CEOs—charisma, virtuoso communication skills, and a confident management style. But what really matters when you run an organization? What is the hallmark of exceptional CEO performance? Quite simply, it is the returns for the shareholders of that company over the long term. In this refreshing, counterintuitive book, author Will Thorndike brings to bear the analytical wisdom of a successful career in investing, closely evaluating the performance of companies and their leaders. You will meet eight individualistic CEOs whose firms’ average returns outperformed the S&P 500 by a factor of twenty—in other words, an investment of $10,000 with each of these CEOs, on average, would have been worth over $1.5 million twenty-five years later.  In The Outsiders, you’ll learn the traits and methods—striking for their consistency and relentless rationality—that helped these unique leaders achieve such exceptional performance.

From Incremental to Exponential by Vivek Wadhwa and Ismail Amla

Over and over, we see big legacy businesses getting beaten to the punch by energetic little start-ups. It seems like innovation can come from only the bottom up or from outside in. But tech experts Vivek Wadhwa, Ismail Amla, and Alex Salkever are here to tell you that “big equals slow and stodgy” is a myth. Based on decades of experience working with the world’s leading brands and start-ups, they explore the opportunity legacy companies have to create new markets, supercharge growth, and remake their businesses by combining the scrappy mind-set and tool belt of hypergrowth start-ups with the massive benefits of incumbency: boatloads of customer data, decades of brand equity, robust distribution channels, enormous financial asserts, and more. Equally important, they provide a playbook on how to use their insights in your own company, team, or career. This is a fast-paced, anecdote-rich story that rethinks modern innovation–a book every manager, executive, and ambitious employee will want to read.


Say thank you to someone, every day

I’ve recently introduced Friday Pulse to the team here at Foundry Farm – a great measure of staff engagement. As I filled in my contribution this week, I realised I hadn’t said thank you to anyone for quite some time. Back in my Peer 1 days, I made a point of doing this every morning as I knew it didn’t come naturally to me – it was a habit I had to work at. If you’re a CEO, it’s massive to say thank you. Don’t squander the opportunity. It will set the tone for your whole organisation.

Upcoming Events

The Road Map to Greatness with Jim Collins – Live Virtual Event (17th February)

To celebrate the release of BE 2.0 (Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0), Jim Collins, best-selling author and globally revered leadership thinker will return to The Growth Faculty stage to present this powerful live virtual event. CEOs, business leaders and their teams will be among the first of the global business community to hear new insights from his latest book and be equipped with Jim’s highly anticipated framework, “The Map”.

Free Scaling Up+ Summit Hosted by Verne Harnish (24th February)

Join top Scaling Up partners from around the globe for Verne’s first Summit of the year.  These leading CEOs and authors will share actionable insight focused on your people and culture to ensure a prosperous 2021. 3 keynotes in 90 minutes. 2.24pm ET – 4.04pm ET

Scaling Up Business Growth Workshop, Foundry Farm (18th March)

When the going gets tough, attitude trumps everything. Don’t let COVID-19 beat you into the ground and take your business. Treat this pandemic as an accelerator. The “one thing” you’ve been looking for to pivot, re-evaluate or simply get shit done. Join us on our farm in Wiltshire to walk through our Scaling Up growth programme.

Quote of the week

“Disciplined people who engage in disciplined thought and who take disciplined action—operating with freedom within a framework of responsibilities—this is the cornerstone of a culture that creates greatness.”

Jim Collins

Dominic Monkhouse

Dominic offers business coaching and management development, strategy planning and organisational change, using tried and tested methods to launch your organisation onto an unparalleled growth trajectory. His programme is a function of his broad experience, his deep expertise and a proven process used by over 2,700 firms worldwide.

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