John Spence has spent decades helping
business owners and managers cut through
the clutter to determine the core ingredients
for creating and sustaining a successful
In his book Awesomely Simple, Spence helps you take a
hard look at your business and evaluate how it is doing
in a number of critical areas that drive lasting success.
Based on the author’s work with thousands of
organizations (including GE, Microsoft, and Abbot Labs),
every organization, no matter its size or sector, must
excel in the following
“Six Principles of Business Success”:
“Six Principles of Business Success”:
4.Sense of Urgency
6.Extreme Customer Focus
These principles may appear simple and straightforward,
but applying them is not easy. They require leaders who
are passionate about their business and its success,
persistent in their approach, willing to practice these
disciplines, and have a perspective to see patterns and
trends that others do not.
•Whether you lead two people or two thousand, it is critical that you have a
clear, compelling, and extremely well-communicated vision of where the
organization is headed and what it stands for. The mission (or purpose) is
why the company exists, and its core values are the guidelines for behavior.
The vision (BHAG*) provides a vivid description of where the company will
be in the future.
•The key to Mission, Values, and Vision (MVV) is not just creating them, but
communicating and applying them throughout the organization. Engage as
many senior leaders as possible in the initial stages of developing your MVV
before rolling it out to the rest of the employee population for discussion
and feedback. The concept of “Those who plan the battle, don’t battle the
plan” is paramount here. Ideas for bringing your MVV to life in your
•Making sure that the MVV is visible throughout the organization by putting
plaques and posters in areas where both employees and customers can
easily see them. Although this is an important aspect of ensuring visibility,
the real value is achieved when the behaviors of everyone in the business
Mission, Values, and Vision (MVV) Statement of
What Is a Big Hairy Audacious Goal
A BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) is a compelling, long-term goal that is intriguing
enough to inspire employees of an organization to take action.
The term comes from the 1994 Harper Business book “Built to Last: Successful Habits of
Visionary Companies” by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras.
BHAGs are meant to pull people out of a slump and energize them to implement a big
picture-type plan that could take a decade to complete.
BHAGs are broadly defined as falling under four main categories: role model, common
enemy, targeting, or internal transformation. There are four broad categories of
1. Role-model BHAGs are about emulating the success of a well-known company. This has
been overdone a bit, with many companies seeking to be “the Uber" of their industry.
2. Common-enemy BHAGs focus on overtaking your competitors, aiming often at beating the
top companies in the industry.
3. Targeting BHAGs refer to things such as becoming a billion-dollar company or ranking #1 in
4. Internal-transformation BHAGs are generally used by large, established companies to
He is Ambitious and Audacious.
Means – Bold, Adventurous, Fearless, Gallant, Valiant,
Examples of Big Hairy Audacious Goals
•Unlike many mission statements, BHAGs do seem to catch
on even with people outside the companies setting them.
•SpaceX’s goal to “enable human exploration and
settlement of Mars” caught international attention.
• Facebook has set a few BHAGs over time, including to
“make the world more open and connected” and “give
everyone the power to share anything with anyone.”
• Google wants to “organize the world’s information and
market it universally accessible and useful.”
•Given what these companies have achieved already, it
seems that setting BHAGs does work.
•By 1971, the relationship between BRS and Onitsuka Tiger was nearing an end, and Knight prepared
to launch its own line of footwear. It was the right time to rename the company; christened after the
Greek goddess of victory, “Nike,” would become a household name. This new name was one way in
which Knight got his staff enthused about the changes in the company. The other method was the
vision the co-founder described to his people: his goal was to “crush Adidas.”
•Although Adidas is still going strong in 2019, Knight’s goal was so inspiring that Nike is the world’s
largest sports footwear brand in the world today.
•Some examples of BHAGS mentioned by Collins and Porras are:
•“Democratize the automobile.” (Ford, early 1900s).
•“Become the company that most changes the worldwide image of
Japanese products as being of poor quality.” (Sony, early 1950s).
•“Yamaha Wo tsubusu! (We will crush, squash, slaughter Yamaha!)”
•Microsoft’s vision of around 1980 that a computer would be on every desk
and in every house;
•SpaceX‘s plan to bring people to Mars;
•Dutch telco KPN, that wants to become the most customer-friendly
company in the Netherlands.
2. Best People
•The success of your business is directly tied to the quality of the people
you have on your team. Many companies say, “Our people are our most
important asset,” but very few have put in place a system to make talent
management a key strategic advantage. With the right people in the right
culture, success and profitability will result.
3. Robust Communication
•Strong interpersonal communication involves
open dialog, good rapport, active listening,
awareness of body language, and a willingness to
engage in constructive conflict.
•Constructive conflict is difficult, and it requires courage and
honesty. If you are not willing to hear things that may be
counter to your philosophy and approach, and then make the
necessary changes, you are not ready for constructive conflict.
4. Sense of Urgency
•In business today, speed rules. If you cannot move quickly, the competition
will – not to mention that customers hate waiting and are becoming used to
instant responses. Speed often requires making decisions in an environment
of imperfect information. To make good decisions, data must flow easily
within the organization. There can be no hoarding of knowledge; it must
move without friction.
5. Disciplined Execution
•According to Harvard Business School professor Robert Kaplan, many
companies have grand ambitions, but only about 10% of businesses can
effectively execute on their strategic priorities in a disciplined and thorough
manner. Urgency and discipline can exist together and must be balanced.
•Disciplined execution requires:
•Systems and processes that align with strategic goals.
•Individual objectives that tie strongly to corporate objectives.
•Mechanisms for continuous improvement or innovation of processes.
•Resources, tools, and training in order for people to perform well in their roles.
6. Extreme Customer Focus
•At the end of the day, the only critic whose opinion counts is the customer, and
the company that owns the “voice of the customer” owns the marketplace and
will outpace the competition. Know the “moments of truth” for your clients –
what are the key points where the customer interfaces with your company?
Determine how to make each of these moments a highly satisfying interaction,
and recognize that frontline employees are typically the most important element
of these contacts.
Survey your customers on an ongoing basis to ensure that you are meeting or
exceeding their expectations. At a minimum, show up on time, keep your
promises, be extremely polite, and give a little more than is expected.
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