Lessons in Scaling Up

I just returned from the Gazelles/Fortune Magazine Scale Up Summit in San Antonio. The learning was absolutely fantastic! Here are just a few of the highlights:

Bob Chapman, Chairman & CEO of Barry-Wehmiller and author of “Everybody Matters,” had an incredible presentation on how he’s grown his company by focusing on people – his employees first, then other stakeholders – rather than on revenues and profits. Using this approach, Chapman has built Barry-Wehmiller into a $2+ billion company by combining more than 80 acquired companies with over 11,000 team members in 100+ locations around the world. From 1975 – present, Chapman has achieved a greater increase in shareholder value than Warren Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway during that same period.

Chris Zook, principal at Bain & Co. and author of “The Founder’s Mentality,” talked about how empirical data proves that companies that use growth strategies that are tied to their Core Ideology (your Core Purpose/WHY + your Core Values) significantly outperform companies that pursue “shiny objects” and short-term strategies for growth.

Michael Bungay Stanier, one of the world’s foremost executive coaches and author of “The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever,” took us through an exercise using his 5 Questions coaching formula. The main idea behind this formula is to “stay curious a little longer and rush to action and advice-giving a little more slowly” (this is something each of us – very much including me – should consider using; my own experience using this during the session was incredibly powerful). When you meet with an employee who comes to ask you for help, here’s how the conversation should go:

  • The Kickstart Question: What’s on your mind?
  • The Focus Question: What’s the real challenge here for you?
  • The AWE Question: And what else? (repeat this at least 3 more times) [it’s repeating this question, WITHOUT offering your advice or suggestions, that enables the person to actually think through their issue and identify for themselves what the best solutions(s) might be]
  • The Foundation Question: What do you want?
  • The Learning Question: What was most useful or most valuable here for you?

Lastly, I saw a presentation on Metronome (www.metronomegrowthsystems.com). This is an automated system for helping leaders and their direct reports stay on top of their One Page Strategic Plan priorities for the company and for each direct report, individually. It was developed by a fellow Gazelles International coach (www.gicoaches.com), so it is completely aligned with the Gazelles/Scaling Up model. Very easy to use and will help you work your way up and out of the weeds quickly so that you can move into more and more of a coaching role for your key employees.

For leaders of companies looking to scale, I STRONGLY encourage you to consider attending the October Scale-Up Summit in St. Louis. You should bring at least one other colleague so that, together, you can identify the 1 or 2 ideas (of the dozens you will hear) that you can implement immediately upon your return. Here’s a link to the October session: https://gazelles.com/summits/scaleup-fall-2017/