Business Operating System #10: The 3HAG Way

Like Gino Wickman, Shannon Byrne Susko started as a member of Verne Harnish’s Gazelle program and she was inculcated in Rockefeller Habits and Scaling Up principles. Her system, documented in her books (The Metronome Effect (2014) and The 3HAG Way (2018)), evolved from Scaling Up’s toolset. However, there are some notable differences.

Susko recognizes the significance of articulating the business leader’s personal vision before creating a Jim Collins-esque BHAG for the company. She also tweaks Harnish’s 3-5 Year Plan into a “3HAG” (3-Year Highly Achievable Goal), which she modifies into a 36-month rolling plan.

This plan is designed to develop your company toward achieving its five strategic differentiators that make it uniquely valuable and better than key competitors. She suggests designing your 3HAG Plan using a handful of strategic tools. She developed these at two tech companies she ran, and they are based on concepts derived from Jim Collins, Michael E. Porter, and other management and strategy thinkers.

Her most interesting strategy tools are the following:

  1. Attribution Framework: A matrix that contrasts your company against its competitors based on product features critical to your ideal customer.
  2. Activity Fit Map: A tool to determine Five Strategic Differentiators you want to develop in order to stand out in the field, to be then synthesized into your One Phrase Strategy.
  3. Market Map: This tool helps you map out your go-to-market and supply chain strategies and your differentiated niche. It is based on Porter’s Five Forces model and shows how your business depends on and interacts with its competitors, suppliers, partners, distribution channels, and customers.
  4. Swimlanes: A 12-calendar quarter milestone plan you can use to upgrade the features of each of your Five Strategic Differentiators (mapped above) that will help you to win against your competitors.
  5. Key Process Flow Map: This plots how each function in your business makes money and accelerates your cash flow.

In One Sentence: A tuned-up version of Scaling Up with heavy use of strategy tools and a rolling three-year planning process.