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Mastering the Rockefeller Habits: What You Must Do to Increase the Value of Your Growing Firm

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What are the underlying handful of fundamentals that haven't changed for over a hundred years? From Harnish's famous One-Page Strategic Plan to his concise outline of eight practical actions you can take to strengthen your culture, this book is a compilation of best practices adapted from some of the best-run firms on the planet. Included is an instructive chapter co-authored by Rich Russakoff, revealing winning tactics to get banks to finance your business. Lastly, there are case studies demonstrating the validity of Harnish's practical approaches. If you are looking for an expanded and updated version of this 2002 best-seller, look for Verne Harnish’s latest title Scaling How a Few Companies Make It...and Why the Rest Don’t (Rockefeller Habits 2.0).  In Scaling Up, Harnish and his team share practical tools and techniques for building an industry-dominating business. These approaches have been honed from over three decades of advising tens of thousands of CEOs and executives and helping them navigate the increasing complexities (and weight) that come with scaling up a venture. This book is written so everyone - from frontline employees to senior executives - can get aligned in contributing to the growth of a firm. There’s no reason to do it alone, yet many top leaders feel like they are the ones dragging the rest of the organization up the S-curve of growth. This book can help you turn what feels like an anchor into wind at your back ― creating a company where the team is engaged; the customers are doing your marketing; and everyone is making money.  To accomplish this, Scaling Up focuses on the four major decision areas every company must get People, Strategy, Execution, and Cash. The book includes a series of new one-page tools including the updated One-Page Strategic Plan and the Rockefeller Habits Checklist™, which more than 40,000 firms around the globe have used to scale their companies successfully ― many to $1 billion and beyond. Running a business is ultimately about freedom. Scaling Up shows business leaders how to get their organizations moving in sync to create something significant and enjoy the ride. 

176 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2002

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Verne Harnish

32 books67 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 117 reviews
Profile Image for Jeff.
236 reviews52 followers
March 21, 2021
How-to versus theoretical book. Enjoyed it.

Some take-aways:
"If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don't bother trying to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking." Buckminster Fuller.

1. Have a handful of rules.
2. Repeat yourself a lot.
3. Act consistently with those rules.

Three underlying habits of a growing firm:
1. Priorities: Does the organization have Top 5 Priorities?
2. Data: Does the organization have sufficient data on a daily and weekly basis?
3. Rhythm: Does the organization have an effective rhythm of daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual meetings?

You only have to decide two things: Where you plan to be 10-25 years from now and what you have to do in the next 90 days?

You don't have a real strategy unless you pass these two tests: What you're planning to do really matters to your existing and potential customers; and second, it differentiates you from your competition.

If you can't afford the people to run your business, then all you have is a job not a business.

What is the Critical Number right now?

The two most important attributes of an effective leader are the ability to predict and to delegate.
Profile Image for C.
1,101 reviews1,047 followers
September 10, 2021
This guide to leadership and business growth is aimed at businesses larger than mine, so I didn’t find it very applicable at present. It builds on popular business books by authors such as Jim Collins and Stephen Covey. It’s intended for businesses large enough to have an executive/leadership team and an internal newsletter.

I like how Harnish emphasizes the importance of setting a vision for the future and creating objective goals to reach it.

Two business owner friends recommended this book.

3 Habits
1. Priorities. An objective Top 5 priorities for the year and quarter, and a clear Top 1 priority and appropriate Theme. A handful of aligned priorities for each person in the organization.
2. Data. Daily and weekly data giving insight into the organization’s operation and market demands. Key daily or weekly metrics for each person.
3. Rhythm. Daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual meetings to maintain alignment and drive accountability.

The “x” factor: identify the bottleneck in your business model and industry and gain control of it.

Mastering Growth
• “The two most important attributes of effective leaders are their abilities to predict and to delegate.”
• Prediction includes setting a “compelling vision that anticipates market movements.” “Leaders don’t have to be years ahead, just minutes ahead of the market, the competition, and those they lead.”

Mastering the Right People Doing the Right Things
• Research shows that training and developing your team increases loyalty.
• Testing is more accurate and objective than interviewing.

Mastering the One-Page Strategic Plan
“Nothing ever gets done in any organization until it shows up on somebody’s weekly To Do list.”

Mastering Employee Feedback
• “If you solve just one percent of your problems or make a one percent improvement in your products and services each week, you’ll gain greater and greater yields from the solutions with each passing year.”
• Always have 1-2 Critical Numbers. A Critical Number is a key short-term focus that will most affect the company’s future. Ask, “what is the single most important measurable thing we need to accomplish in the next 3 to 12 months?” Change these regularly.

Mastering the Daily and Weekly Executive Meeting
• The faster you’re growing, the more meetings you should have. They will save time, not waste it. Meetings increase the pace of deliverables, harness collective intelligence, reinforce core ideologies, offer opportunities to praise behavior, and help course-correct.
• Recommended meeting schedule: daily 5-15 minutes, weekly 30-60 minutes, monthly 2-4 hours.

Mastering the Brand Promise
• What is your BHAG? BHAG: a measurable goal for where you want to top out in 10 years.
• How do you define your Sandbox - geography, product lines, distribution channels? Who will be your customer in 3-5 years, and who won’t?
• What is the biggest “need” your customers have, distinguished from all their “wants”? The need is what really matters to the customer. It also demonstrably differentiates you from competitors.
• What is your measurable Brand Promise? The Brand Promise is the key factor that differentiates you from competitors and drives all executive decisions.
• What is the bottleneck/shortage/chokepoint in your sandbox/industry and how are you going to control it?
• What are you going to do to utilize technology? Stay ahead of the competition.
Profile Image for Christian S.
45 reviews4 followers
June 22, 2020
So this is unique. Normally I stay far away from all the usual American "10 ways to make your business amazing" stuff BUT this is the second or third or maybe fourth time I read this book and I also once I ended up going to a 3 day conference of Verne and I am actually now living 75% of this book to the dot in my biz. AND every time I read it again I realise "damn it" he is just as right about the remaining 25% so now i try to implement them too (though each time i have to overcome tons of inertia and misconceptions).

Nutshell - this is for the CEO of a GROWTH COMPANY: how to run biz meetings, how regularly/often/long to do them, with who to do them and what is the input and output you want (which ties naturally into how to fundamentally craft a hierarchy of values and goals and targets for your biz). Very simple, very elegant, very powerful - I wouldn't know how else to do what i am doing. He has also published a new book which I will give a shot now - it seems to be a 2.0 version of this book.

NB: i don’t think the content of this Book is quite relevant for a start up (too procedural for a very small group of people that need to grapple with their basic business model) or a large corp (where the procedure is too lightweight on the formal reporting needs and more complex org-chart issues)
Profile Image for Kelly.
68 reviews2 followers
October 11, 2012
What I got from this book:
1) Have only a handful of rules
2) Repeat yourself alot
3) Act consistently with those rules

x factor: identify the chokepoint in your business & gain control of it. (Ex. Rcokefeller's key to winning the oil business was gaining an advantage in transportation. ie railroads)

GE's 3 keys to success
1) In planning - themiddle is gone. where do you want to be in 10-15 years
2) Keep it simple
3) Best data is firsthand data - teach people

Strategies need to pass the test
1) What you planning matters to your customers
2) It differentiaties you from your competition

3 fundamentals
1) Priorities: handfull of rules (core values)
2) Data: you need feedback
3) Rhythm: until your people are mocking you, you haven't repeated yourself enough

This is just 1 page of notes I took from this book. I will have to add on later :) Good Owner/Manager book to read.
Profile Image for Igor Emelyanow.
33 reviews10 followers
June 12, 2011
Книга «Правила прибыльных стартапов» в оригинале называется «Mastering of the Rockefeller Habits», что дословно переводится как «Освоение привычек Рокфеллера». Это название менее понятное и куда менее сфокусированное, чем перевод, выбранный издательством. Но оно чуть более честное и объясняет, что именно вы прочтете в книге. Уже на этапе названия вам становится понятна основная мысль. Шикарный подарок! Посему, рекомендую не пренебрегать беглым просмотром форзаца с названием книги на языке оригинала.

«Правила прибыльных стартапов» окажется максимально полезным чтением, если вы уже успели вырастить небольшую компанию, но совершенно не понимаете, как сделать из нее большую и преуспевающую. Едва начинающим свое дело предпринимателям книгу можно читать вскользь: понять основные положения, но детально разобрать их позже, когда понадобятся. А понадобятся непременно!

Эта книга — не Rework, она куда менее эмоциональна и более прагматична. А посему более сложна и даже несколько занудна. И если Rework служит вдохновнием, топливом, то «Правила прибыльных стартапов» — это подробно расписанные действия. Начинающий предприниматель может ��спугаться такой книги, слишком сухо и конкретно все написано: надо многое пометить, запомнить, перечитать. Успешный управленец может пренебречь такой книгой, решив, что без предложенных инструментов можно обойтись. Поэтому абзацем выше я обозначил именно такую целевую аудиторию: владельцы компаний, нуждающихся в понятном и прогнозируемом росте.

Читать дальше...
Profile Image for Petar Ivanov.
84 reviews24 followers
July 14, 2019
I would say that this book is about people who are running businesses larger than mine which is a startup. I didn't find it very applicable to me, my team and business. The book is full of ideas from other books by Jim Collins and Stephen Covey. However, there're some good points and ideas like regular daily, weekly and monthly meetings, leadership and focusing on the bottlenecks and the root cause of the problems using the 5 Whys. These are known facts but it's helpful to remind yourself about them from time to time.
“The two most important attributes of effective leaders are their abilities to predict and to delegate.”
Maybe I could give the book another try in the next few years when I'm running a larger business or I'm part of such one.
November 11, 2011
The difficulty of "Mastering the Rockefeller Habits" by Verne Harnish was that it was a bit hard to overcome but after a few pages i got used to the writing style. What i liked about this difficult book is that it is advanced for my age or grade, but this gave me the confidence to read advanced books in the future that i felt i couldn't of have in the past. The reason i feel this was a big advantage for my life and advancement in my reading is because i want to be very successful on Wall Street and what is better to learn from the habits of Rockefeller himself.
The other gave a clear understanding of how and what it takes to be successful in the world of finance, business, and so-called "people skills." After reading this book and made realize that i had only scratched the surface of the whole new world that I, not now, but soon will be accustom to. I understand many people, outside of the business world incredibly dislike John D. Rockefeller. However, i also believe that people don't understand what he does, how well he does it, and why. After finishing Harnish's book, i would concur that people that don't understand, would then come to the realization why Rockefeller is truly an artist of his craft.
A quick synopsis of this book are ways of quickly, astonishingly improving and becoming your, of your future, business firm. Things that were said mainly focused on keeping employees or co-workers happy, keeping sales up no matter what, and be educated as possible which leads to the best decision making. The only con i had was that maybe Verne Harnish was writing vicariously through Rockefeller's life. I felt this way because there were no quotes from Rockefeller and none of his own opinions. Anyhow, i would still overall recommend this book if your into this lifestyle choice or you are just intrested in the topic itself. I hope everyone who comes across this book enjoys it as much as i did.
Hi Mr. Ambrose.

Profile Image for Kevin Mccray.
6 reviews
June 28, 2013
I agree with the catalyst behind this book; most companies are misaligned, lack focus and have robust oxymoronic networks of un-prioritized activities. In Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, Harnish provides practical advise for top-down alignment. He keeps topics simple and gives his readers access to a ton of free content, mostly templates used as tools for organizational alignment. Like all template-based strategy worksheets I've seen, his templates are mostly useful for communicating strategy decisions, however are limiting for strategy development. However, they are definitely a great perk. I'd recommend this read for folks leading an organization or department and I imagine it could be particularly useful to entrepreneurs that are practicing their craft without a strong Business Administration background.
Profile Image for Devin Partlow.
326 reviews4 followers
January 26, 2014
Anytime I hear someone say Good to Great is a top 10 business book, alarm bells go off in my head. Finding common things among "successful" business suffers from the Survivorship bias.

But outside of that and him being such a smooth talker (another thing that tingles my spidey senses), it is a pretty practical book and he does offer up some ideas that are worth trying out.
Profile Image for Itzel Auri.
2 reviews
June 14, 2015
A lot of great advices and strategies. If you can read Good to great by Jim Collins first do it. It will help you to understand It better.
Profile Image for John Blackman.
94 reviews14 followers
March 12, 2018
This is kind of a super chapter to the author’s other book Scaling Up which I found to be far more procedural, kind of a consulting how-to guide to scale up your business.

This book however is instead more about habits, procedures, and how to focus to develop a growing and successful firm. One exception is the last chapter which seems like it belongs in Scaling up. It is on how to secure bank financing in a step by step way which is very important but kind of stands outs from the rest of the book.

The consulting tries to be simple because you will actually remember simple. For your firm to succeed, it must do something very well that differentiates itself from competitors *AND* is valuable to their customers. If you are a lot cheaper than the rest of your industry, but customers really want fast, that doesn’t do you any good. You must be distinct in some way that your customers value.

The other key insight was to only have two ranges of planning, long term which is beyond the ability to plan, and short term (one year). Point your short term planning in the direction of your long term, but stay tactical. An extreme focus on the short term gives your team the ability to see the impact of their work and change directions quickly. A good day makes for a good week, a good week, a good month, a good month, a good quarter, good quarters make a good year.

The author emphasizes mandatory daily meetings. Now I can hear everyone groaning with the that beuracratic breath of disdain. “They keep me from getting real work done.” You cry! Well there is a disclaimer. They emphasize daily meetings but short ones that are super accountable. No problem solving is allowed, it’s just a brief status, numbers measuring your key metrics, and who is blocked. If the numbers aren’t being hit, then there is a problem that the team can take action on that day.

One company they examined had three layers of these meetings every day. Front line employees at every location had a 15 min meeting, the managers had another 15 min after that to roll up the problems from the front line, and the leadership had a 15 minute meeting after that to roll up those meetings. So in one hour a company with over 1000 employees had a complete bottom to top update, daily and it cost everyone 15-30 minutes depending if you were in two tiers or not.

This hyper focus on core metrics at a regular pulse that includes everyone allows quick course correction. Problems are spotted immediately instead of at the quarterly meetings. When problems aren’t found for a full quarter, you have to get into reaction mode after a problem has become one to three months old, so you spend the next quarter cleaning it up. So you end up losing six months assuming another problem didn’t crop up while fixing the last one.

Using the daily sync, you fix problems while they are little and stay focused on the numbers that represent where your business is going. Obviously not everyone runs a company this way, and some very successful companies don’t. The reasoning makes sense for a transaction or sales based business which most are.
April 19, 2020
This is a good read, with lots of helpful information on putting structured rhythm in your organisation to get the most out of it. However it references US based companies only - I’d love to see an updated version with international companies featured and most of the references refer to companies 20 years ago (I.e. 1990’s as opposed to 2020’s). Times change and I wonder how relevant all the content is on today’s world. In saying that, most of the concepts remain relevant, are practical, simple and targeted.
Profile Image for Mathijs.
35 reviews
March 5, 2021
First part of the book was pretty insightful, although it has little to do with the book "TITAN" it refers to. I think that there are super valueable lessons in here and it's very practical. I don't understand the addition of the 10th chapter (finance) it seems out of tune; the habits can be implemented in a more universal way but loans from a bank are so country / economy specific that it didn't make sense to me why this was included. We are at the start of implementing these habits at my work, so let's see what it might bring us!
Profile Image for Mark Manderson.
528 reviews23 followers
November 19, 2017
Thought this was a book on the Rockefellers but wasn't. Still had some good info on business.
Top takeaways:
Delegating is mandatory for success. 
Set up systems and structures. 
Look at data as it predicts future performance. 
Have top 5 priorities and top 1 of 5 priority list on an index card for every employee. 
You must train, retrain, and overtrain often! 
Reoccurring problems eat up over 40% of employees time! 
12 reviews
May 29, 2020
Somehow, this 150 page book was about 110 pages too long.

There definitely was some value in it-in between long ramblings. This would’ve worked perfectly as a long form article or a short ebook that you get free when you give him your email. But for 150 pages, I got about one valuable tip a chapter, and 20 pages of case studies that were almost always much less valuable than the author leads on.
Profile Image for Gareth Davies.
65 reviews7 followers
June 7, 2017
Quite an intensive read as it really contains virtually zero waffle, every paragraph and every chapter is straight to the point and packed full of actionable advice, problems to look out for and exactly what you should be doing.

This is the book you should be using to run your business if you have any desire to scale it up effectively and not wreck yourself on the way.

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Kevin Cullis.
Author 5 books12 followers
March 8, 2018
If you're looking to start a business, this book is overkill and does add some additional information for businesses that are growing, i.e. that are $1,000,000 in revenue or more. If you're a startup, read this later on before you get to that point. I read the book, "Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr." and got MORE from it than this book.
Profile Image for Hermeson.
2 reviews
December 29, 2018
Concepts are good, some decent guidelines for managing a business. However, Verne is old school and behind the times. While the concepts remain strong, they need to be given a fresh face and updated presentation, including use of technology. As-is, the audience for this book is people who grew up in the 60's.
Profile Image for John Browning.
110 reviews2 followers
May 15, 2019
While aimed at businesses larger than mine, the practical advice can be adapted to my smaller operation. Some great gems in these pages. Often I find their is pushback regarding frequent meetings and yet when i do them correctly with consistency I find the cadence is extremely helpful no matter what the size of your business.
9 reviews6 followers
April 23, 2021
A lot of good ideas of how to manage a business, manage your team and align goals of organization with goals of each team member. Although the process looks a bit bureaucratic, i know people who implement verne’s method and are really happy. Looking forward for a workshop on this topic a month from now;)
16 reviews
February 6, 2022
Like often it is the consequence how you do something which decides on success or failure. This book is worthy to read for all entrepreneurs because in about 120 pages you get a complete overview on how to grow your business.
1 review
July 27, 2017

A great read that lays out a blueprint for how to grow a company. I would recommend this book to everyone
Profile Image for Don Sevcik.
Author 10 books6 followers
September 13, 2017
Solid book to read about high-level thinking, metric planning, and the power of meeting in short intervals.
Profile Image for Mike Ncube.
Author 4 books18 followers
March 8, 2018
A great business book that’s packed with many years of experience and insight. I particularly liked the section on applying for a bank loan and what approach to take when doing so.
Profile Image for LJ.
1 review5 followers
April 16, 2018
Great book for business owners, it's condenced and takes you directly to the tools you have to apply to see changes in your company.
4 reviews1 follower
August 19, 2018
Great for ambitious start-ups ... How to organise it.. how to create a a rithm for an organisation.. it's heartbeat
Profile Image for Sean Fitzsimons.
57 reviews2 followers
January 15, 2019
A very good book on great strategies for growing a business. Very applicable although poor written. Not for start ups or large corporations though.
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