Elephant and the Rider, 7 important people questions, Office Practicum, Amazon & Reset for 2021
7th February 2021 Evolution Partners Newsletter
“It’s easier to invent the future than to predict it” Alan Kay — appearing on a 1994 Amazon job advert.
Hope you’re Thriving!
What a week it’s been!
So last Sunday we’re at the beach, swimming with friends and discussing how lucky we are that we haven’t had any new COVID-19 cases in our city in the past months, we finish up, head back to the car and then news comes through of a person who’d been all over the city with the virus and we need to enter into a 5-day lockdown, using masks everywhere, and don’t leave the house unless essential. I guess we’d experienced it before and although there was panic buying and shops were overrun in the hours before the lockdown started on Sunday, people knew what to expect and there didn’t feel the same uncertainty as the first time around. People just got on with things, bunkered down and waited it out.
I held a quarterly planning workshop for a group this week and obviously needed to hold it on Zoom, which was great, I’ve done so many workshops over Zoom in the past year that in many ways it’s better than in person. Before the Christmas break, I spoke about the need for teams and leaders to rest and reset, so they return fully energised, with a full tank, coming back into 2021. Within this group, several members rested well and didn’t do much of what they hoped for since the last quarterly planning workshop and they were really disappointed. They were just so exhausted from 2020 that once they stopped, they just had to keep resting and struggled to start thinking about work again.
So we spoke about the Elephant and the Rider, a concept from The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt and best explained in this 2-minute video The Elephant, The Rider and the Path – A Tale of Behavior Change by Dan Heath. Essentially think about the human brain as a rider atop an elephant. The rider represents the rational system and is the part that plans, and problem solves, but it’s the elephant which represents the emotional system that provides the power for the journey. Without the elephant, the rider can go nowhere. After such a challenging 2020 many people’s ‘elephants’ just needed to recover! We discussed it, and how it impacts us, and reset setting the right priorities to move forward.
One other thing from that workshop this past week, during the day we worked on Core Values, stress testing and validating the values each team had. One of the teams had used values for a few years, but their marketing company recently told them they should change the values because they might be confusing for customers.
Of course, that set the alarm bells ringing in my head!
So we worked on the stress test, seeing if the values really were authentic and ‘core’. The leaders couldn’t even remember the new values the marketing company told them to use and kept referring back to their original values. We looked at the new and the old versions of the values and discussed how the role of Core Values in an organisation is to tell US who WE are, and most importantly what the leaders in the organisation believe that is so important to them that it is bone-deep. When building Core Values with a team I’m really disciplined that the team only use the words they say and never refer to a dictionary or research synonyms. We want them to be authentic, real words that people use every day. It doesn’t matter if your customers see or don’t see your values and what they are. They aren’t to be used as a tool to get customers to buy, or to trick customers into liking you.
In the end, the team validated the old values and didn’t change them.
The 7 important people questions
I’ve been reading Jim Collins new book Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0 and one of the things I picked up and really liked was these 7 people questions that you should ask when you are uncertain about a team member.
- Are you beginning to lose other people by keeping this person in the seat?
- Do you have a values problem, a will problem or a skills problem?
- What’s the person’s relationship to the window and the mirror? (The right people look out the window when things go right giving credit to others, the wrong people look in the mirror assigning credit to themselves)
- Does the person see work as a job or a responsibility?
- Has your confidence in the person gone up or down in the past year?
- Do you have a bus problem or a seat problem?
- How would you feel if the person quit?
Most of these questions I’ve been using when coaching clients, in one form or another, but I think it’s an excellent, simple list that can provide clarity when asked together to understand the real issue.
Growth amid the tumult for Office Practicum
For Ellen Purdy, CFO for Office Practicum, a paediatric-specific electronic health records provider based outside of Philadelphia, a random conversation in 2019 with peer group member Alix James about a new management system for goal-tracking and communication called 3HAG Way was to have an enormous impact as she and her team navigated 2020 as COVID hit and upended their industry. Implementing the system in December 2019, and commencing the rigours of meetings, priority setting and metrics, implemented with a coach turned out to be exactly what they needed to survive, and thrive as the pandemic hit and the faced uncertainty and new challenges on a regular basis.
“It is fortunate that we started this prior to March,” Purdy says. “It [3HAG] had already become a way of working for us that we had gotten used to, and it was very helpful with all the headwinds of 2020, including working remotely. It’s keeping us on track, keeping a pulse on the company.”
As you may know, I use 3HAG with all clients and over 20 years have found it the most rigorous, impactful methodology for mid-market businesses.
Read more about the Office Practicum story in the article here Growth amid the tumult.
Email finder tool
I came across this tool this week I wanted to share with you. If you’re looking for an email address at any company, Hunter scrapes the web and can possibly find it. Simply enter the domain name and it will tell you the nature of the email structure at the firm such as [firstname].[lastname]@domain.com and all the email addresses it can find. As an example, the company in the previous story had 28 email addresses when searched.
Check out Hunter email finder and email verifier here.
Jeff Bezos steps down as CEO of Amazon
News this week that Amazon CEO and Founder Jeff Bezos is stepping down moving into the Executive Chair position, and Andy Jassy is becoming the new CEO. Jassy joined Amazon in 1997 as his first job out of Harvard University and started Amazon Web Services for Bezos which he has grown to $45 Billion in revenues, famously turning an Amazon expense item (server costs), into a revenue item by selling server access to others.
For years Jeff Bezos studied succession planning, and in particular the Microsoft Bill Gates-Steve Ballmer transition process, analysing what worked and what didn’t. Appointing someone to run your business is also something that Kevin and I recently discussed in our podcast Finding the right person to run your business, and we reviewed how the best practice is to find a long term, successful leader from within, to transition over a period of time.
Exactly what Bezos has done.
Read the interesting letter from Bezos to employees announcing the change here.
Moving the expense item of servers, into a profit centre for AWS that Jassy oversaw, as Bezos did with customer acquisition and delivery through Prime was one of the major achievements of Bezos leadership.
To put his success into context, here are a few of Jeff Bezos achievements that haven’t been done by anyone before.
– Grew revenues from $0 to $1.5T
– Hired 500,000 people in 12 months
– Established recurring revenue relationships with 82% of US households
– Turned the biggest cost centres into profit centres
When combined, these reveal a truly outstanding CEO.
Next, let’s take a look at the Net Income of Amazon since 1997. I’ve heard it said before that it takes 21 years to build a great company, and that all the effort in building momentum really creates impact after 21 years, and it’s fascinating that inflection occurs around that point for Amazon.
But what kind of people did Jeff Bezos need to build Amazon? Take a quick look at this job advert from 1994, only a few months after he founded Amazon.
“… and you should be able to do so in about one-third the time that most competent people think is possible.” — You don’t see that in many job adverts!
It’s fascinating to gain the insight of that job advert, today, and what that attitude led to.
If you’re running a business with $3m to $10m revenue and are considering 3HAG or a leadership program, I’m currently assembling a group that might be a great fit for you. It’s a much more affordable way to establish a leadership team with discipline, a strategy and scale. I’ve currently got 3 teams committed and have an opening for a fourth, as there are four leadership teams to a group.
Also this group “might” be virtual, running on Zoom, so if you’re spread out across cities as a leadership team, or aren’t based in Perth, this might be an opportunity for you.
Learn more here and reply to this email to discuss with me.
This week on The Growth Whisperers podcast
On episode 43 of The Growth Whisperers, Kevin Lawrence and I talk about the following.
The top 7 best practices for weekly meetings
This week on The Growth Whisperers Brad and Kevin are talking about the weekly meeting, one of the most important parts of execution and also ensuring you successfully complete your quarterly priorities. They provide the top 7 best practices to ensure your weekly meetings are engaging and valuable.
Listen to The Growth Whisperers
From the vault
Reset for 2021
Right now, I feel there might be an important job for successful leaders to start thinking about.
If your energy level was analogous to a fuel tank, how ‘empty’ is your fuel tank at the moment after everything we’ve been through in 2020? How about your team?
For many professional athletes, the most important day is the rest day.
For successful teams, recuperation and renewal is a part of their routine.
If your team comes back to work in January with a half-full tank, having not fully rested, how will that affect the success you have in 2021?
I believe the messaging that leaders must do now, in order to grow into 2021, is to help everyone rest and reset, and that it is so important, I made a 2-minute video about it.
As a part of the Evolution Partners network, you can save $100 on tickets to see the best-selling author of Good To Great, JIM COLLINS at his live global virtual event: Jim Collins – The Roadmap To Greatness on Tuesday 23 February 2021.
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Align your leadership team with the most significant thought leader of our time.
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