Vantage Blog


Book Review – Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish

Based around the famous industrialist JD Rockefeller’s approach to business this book outlines a framework to enabling focus on implementing an organisation’s strategies and plans.

There are three core ‘Rockefeller’ principles as espoused by Harnish:

  1. Setting Priorities – what is critical to achieve in the next 90 days.  Pick the top 5 and then the number 1 priority. Create a theme around it and use it to energise and focus the team.
  2. Having the Right Data – ensure all the data and information with which you are not only managing the business, but also monitoring your top 5 priorities, is captured and able to be monitored in an easy manner.  Daily and weekly – by team and by individual.  What is measured happens!
  3. Working to a Rhythm – making sure you have an effective daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual meeting structure, with clear agendas and aligned communication protocols. 

The book also lays out an approach to planning and, in particular, a one page plan (which is actually more than one page they just print it in small font or on A3!).  All sensible stuff - a variant on a number of other planning templates.

The value in this book, however, is in my view the top 5 priorities and in particular focussing on what is the most critical thing you need to deliver in the next 90 days.  It would be of real value if you are able to cascade this approach throughout the organisation and develop a focus on what is critical to deliver right now.

Many businesses do a good job of developing their strategic direction and annual business plan but falter at the last hurdle of execution. Some of my clients have used the Rockefeller Principles approach when translating their overall strategy and business plan into implementation and it has been quite successful to date.  So an approach that is worth considering. 

Of course a key criticism can be ‘we have more than 5 top priorities in any one period’.  Yes that may well be so but if you looked back over the last 90 days how many of those multitude of initiatives were you truly able to deliver?  What could you actually achieve if you were able to provide increased focus around key priorities?

It doesn’t really matter what approach you use.  What is key is that you have a  way of ensuring focus on execution – the question ‘what’s important right now to achieve?’ is a good challenge to all those  things that keep you busy each day.

by James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing

This article is linked to James' Google+ profile

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