Rockefeller Habits Checklist: Is Your Business On The Path To Sustainable Growth? (Part 1)

Managers who have completed the checklist often ask us two questions:

  1. How did we survive/thrive for all these years yet have nothing checked off on the list?
  2. Are the habits in any kind of order?

Responding to the first question, we remind executive teams that this is an execution checklist. It’s not necessary to implement any of these habits to build a long-lasting organization. It just means you’ve been leaving massive amounts of money and time on the table. And if you have a killer strategy and/or heroic people willing to work 18-hour days, eight days a week, these habits will make up for the messes created by sloppy execution and lack of discipline.

To answer the second question, you can’t implement any of what I’ve taught unless Rockefeller Habit No. 1 — “The executive team is healthy and aligned” — exists. The order in which you implement the other habits doesn’t matter. Choose just one or two each quarter, based on what will give you the most immediate benefit as you would with the rest of our crossword puzzle-like tools. Over 24–36 months, you’ll have moved through all 10 habits.

Rockefeller Habit No. 1: The Executive Team Is Healthy And Aligned

Patrick M. Lencioni’s bestselling book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable” defines the unhealthy situations that can derail your leadership team: an absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results. If one or more of these afflictions exists, then address it before you tackle any other aspect of execution.

We strongly suggest purchasing Lencioni’s affordable “Team Kit.” Take your leadership team through his assessment and training process to strengthen the levels of trust, healthy debate, commitment, accountability, and results. It’s a great tuneup for even healthy teams. At a minimum, require all leaders and managers to read his book once a year. It’s a quick read, and a refresher can prevent new problems from arising within the team as you scale up.

Many of the Rockefeller Habits reinforce routines that keep the team healthy, like taking a few minutes to share personal and professional good news at the start of a weekly or monthly meeting. Other ways to help the team build trust include the following:

  • Personality and leadership style assessments, which help team members appreciate each other’s differences
  • Meal and social time during off-site planning sessions and monthly management meetings
  • Shared learning experiences

Once the team is healthy, then it is ready to tackle the tough work of setting priorities successfully.

Rockefeller Habit No. 2: Everyone Is Aligned With The No. 1 Thing That Needs To Be Accomplished This Quarter To Move The Company Forward

Rockefeller Habit No. 2 starts with identifying your Critical Number, introduced and popularized through Jack Stack’s classic book “The Great Game of Business: The Only Sensible Way to Run a Company.” Though all your metrics are critical, reserve the term “Critical Number” for your measurable No. 1 priority, even when other metrics are nearly as important.

To derive the one Critical Number, imagine the hundreds of important things you need to accomplish lined up like dominoes. Find the lead domino: the one initiative that, when pursued, makes it easier to accomplish everything else. Or identify the constraint — the choke point or bottleneck — and address it first. For more on how to choose this “critical” constraint, read my favorite business book of all time, “The Goal” by the late Eliyahu Goldratt. Scaling up is all about eliminating constraints — in the business and for customers.

It’s tempting to have a few “main” priorities, but that just means your focus will be pulled in different directions, thus not really achieving anything of significance. For true scalability to occur, I urge you to prioritize one goal and make sure everyone is on board to achieving it.

Scaling a company takes time — it’s all about taking a step forward, checking in, and adjusting accordingly. This can only happen if there are regular check-ins and goals. One such goal is the quarterly goal that allows for small wins, which leads to your company’s focus on its No. 1 priority.

Rockefeller Habit No. 3: Communication Rhythm Is Established And Information Moves Through The Organization Accurately And Quickly

Meetings have gotten a bad rap, with some corners eschewing the benefits of meetings. However, I believe daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual “Meeting Rhythms” help to address the No. 1 challenge people face when working together: communication.

It might sound counterintuitive to have this many meetings, but when executed properly, they actually save everyone a lot of time in the long run. Communication will become much more open and smoother, and your team will have the clarity and feedback it needs to focus on the company’s No. 1 priority.

Rockefeller Habit No. 4: Every Facet Of The Organization Has A Person Assigned With Accountability For Ensuring Goals Are Met

Getting accountabilities clear throughout the organization is crucial. There should be one accountable person assigned to each cell within the organization, and this needs to be clear throughout the organization. Of course, this doesn’t mean this person is the boss or gets to make all the decisions.

Rockefeller Habit No. 5: Ongoing Employee Input Is Collected To Identify Obstacles And Opportunities

Ah yes, data — both measurable and immeasurable — will fuel clear decision-making. This is the first key component for qualitative data you’ll need to guide the business. It is critical for senior leadership and middle managers to engage their employees in data collection from within the company. In other words, roll up your sleeves and prepare to take notes.

Here are some guidelines we recommend:

  • Collect data from your employees, especially your sales channels and those on the front line as they are closest to the action.
  • Senior leaders should talk to one employee a week. Here is the question they should ask: “What should the company start/stop/keep doing?”
  • Pay attention to the “stops,” as this will give you an idea of the roadblocks your people face and what to eliminate.

To download your copy of the Rockefeller Habits Checklist, visit ScalingUp.com today.