Business Operating System #5: Rapid Enterprise Development

Keith McFarland, former CEO of twice Inc. 500 winning Colletech Systems, credits a chance meeting with Jim Collins for inspiring his research that led to The Breakthrough Company.

McFarland replicated Collins’s Good to Great process, conducted for the elite of the Fortune 500, and applied it to small, fast-growing companies. The Rapid Enterprise Development team gathered empirical research on nine companies and their competitors and interviewed more than 1,400 managers and executives from 52 client companies to surmise the lessons McFarland shares in: The Breakthrough Company: How Everyday Companies Become Extraordinary Performers.

Specifically, McFarland wanted to answer the question of why most small companies stay small while others traverse the entrepreneurial stage and scale. Was there a way to increase the chances of that happening?

His research yielded a handful of ideas:

  1. “Throw a dyno”: A rock climber’s term about making a willful and diligent ascent, from one foothold to the next.
  2. “Crown the company”: Let the story be about the business, not its founder.
  3. “Upping the ante”: Keep making bold bets, because often the winner takes all in the fast-growth world of tech companies.
  4. “Build company character”: Implant and enforce a value-based culture.
  5. Navigate the “Bermuda Triangle”: Balance innovation, customer service, and efficiency.
  6. “Erect scaffoldings”: Embrace peer groups and “Insultants” that support and challenge you.
  7. Focus on the three leverage points: strategy, alignment, and execution: Engage more people in creating strategy, share information, and increase the velocity of feedback and learning.

In One Sentence: Implement a multifaceted and consultative strategic planning and organizational development program that engages multiple management layers in medium-size and large companies.