The Entrepreneurial Myth (E-Myth)

The Entrepreneurial Myth (E-Myth)

Summary
  The Entrepreneurial Myth (E-Myth) has had a profound cost in America – in lost resources, lost opportunities, and wasted lives. Most small business owners are not venture capital funded tech companies, despite what we hear about on the news. The majority of businesses get started because employees who are strong at their craft technically become frustrated and feel unappreciated by their employers. These carpenters, mechanics, programmers, cooks, barbers, doctors, plumbers, graphic designs, engineers, etc. get the “entrepreneurial itch” to ditch their worthless boss and call their own shots. Most of these new businesses fail within the first few years due to a misconception about entrepreneurship. The fatal assumption is: "if you understand the technical work of a business, you understand a business that does that technical work."   Why…
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Competing Against Luck

Competing Against Luck

Summary
Competing Against Luck is the 2016 story of innovation and customer choice by Clayton M. Christensen that introduces jobs theory. Do you know why your most recent customer purchased your product or service? Not the obvious reason, but the deeper reason behind the choice? For example, why do people buy milkshakes? Are you buying the milkshake to satisfy hunger? As a dessert treat? To cool you off on a hot day? To appease your kids for a few minutes of peace and quiet?   Competing Against Luck Clayton Christensen introduced the groundbreaking theory of disruptive innovation in his 1997 book The Innovator’s Dilemma. The concept (discussed by Lean East in this post) has been called the most influential business idea of the early 21st century and made Christensen one of…
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Great by Choice

Great by Choice

Summary
Authors Jim Collins (Good to Great and Built to Last) and Morten Hansen compare another set of companies to learn what differentiates the great. This time the research focuses on the question: “Why do some companies thrive in uncertainty, even chaos, and some do not?” The nine-year research project forms the basis of their 2011 book, Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck--Why Some Thrive Despite Them All. This post summarizes four key choices made by leaders of the best companies (defined as companies that beat their industry indexes by at least 10X over 15 years) that challenge conventional wisdom. You may be surprised to learn that the “10X” companies: Were not more risky, visionary, or creative than their counterparts Focused more on scaling innovation than innovation by itself Changed…
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Theory of Constraints

Theory of Constraints

Summary
  This is a summary of the story and key lessons from the 1984 classic The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Eli Goldratt that introduced the world to the Theory of Constraints. Goldratt has published multiple editions of the original book, and also adapted the TOC concept to project management theory with his book Critical Chain, published in 1997.   The Theory of Constraints (TOC) is an operations management method that views any system as being limited in achieving its goals by a small number of constraints. Every system has at least one constraint – TOC uses a focusing process to identify and eliminate the constraint, therefore raising the output of the entire system. “No Chain is Stronger Than Its Weakest Link”     The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement…
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Solve Problems Before They Happen

Solve Problems Before They Happen

Summary
This is a summary of the 2020 Dan Heath book, Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen. Dan and his brother Chip have previously written several bestsellers we have summarized, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard and Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work. Upstream covers a key Lean continuous Improvement topic: problem solving to root cause. Often the most effective (and least expensive) way to fix a problem is by preventing it from ever occurring. “So often we find ourselves reacting to problems, putting out fires, dealing with emergencies. We should shift our attention to preventing them.”   3 Barriers to Overcome Heath begins by sharing some common thinking barriers we need to overcome as we move upstream.   Problem Blindness:…
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7 Habits for Highly Effective People

7 Habits for Highly Effective People

Summary
The current (July, 2020) racial tension in the United States has led me to recall one of my favorite productivity lessons: “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” This is Habit 5 from Stephen R. Covey’s bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Since Covey’s book is now 30 years old, I wonder how many millennials have never read the book or learned its timeless lessons? Here is a brief summary of the key lessons from the 7 Habits. Stephen R. Covey – R.I.P.   Habit 1: Be Proactive Whenever something impacts you, YOU are in control of the response. Effective people choose to take the initiative and act back. The key lesson in Habit 1 is understanding whether you control, influence, or only have concern about an…
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Ten Lessons from Built to Last

Ten Lessons from Built to Last

Summary
Authors Jim Collins (author of the best-sellers Good to Great and Great by Choice) and Jerry Porras compared 18 sets of long-running and successful companies to learn what differentiated the visionary company from the comparison company. Their research identified key traits and habits prevalent in the more successful companies and formed the basis of their book, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. This post summarizes ten lessons of visionary companies from the book and, as a bonus, offers six suggestions for leaders to better align an organization.   You don’t need a great idea to start a great company. Few of the visionary companies in the book began with even any specific idea. Visionary companies often get off to a slow start, but set BHAGs (below) and continue…
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The Infinite Game

The Infinite Game

Summary
This month we summarize the 2019 book The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek. This is Sinek’s third book and follows the 2014 bestseller, Leaders Eat Last. There are two kinds of games. Finite games have known players and fixed rules. As I write this sentence, I am watching the finite game of football. The game has two known teams pitted against one another with referees enforcing the rules. One team will win the game by having scored more points as the time expires. Infinite games are played by known and unknown players. There are no agreed-upon rules, and no finish line or clock signaling the end of the contest. There is, therefore, no way to “win” an infinite game; the best you can do is keep playing. Sinek notes that…
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Leadership Lessons from Extreme Ownership

Leadership Lessons from Extreme Ownership

Summary
This post shares the lessons from the 2015 book Extreme Ownership: How US Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. Willink and Babin were Navy SEALs who led the most highly decorated special operations unit of the Iraq war. The book demonstrates how SEAL leadership principles apply to business. Each chapter describes a situation from the war in Iraq in the insurgent occupied Ramadi where Babin led a unit that reported to Willink. Stories from the battlefield demonstrate each principle, then the authors define the principle and share an example from a business situation that further demonstrates the principle. Many of the principles are well covered in other leadership books, but several are lesser-known. This post will describe the leadership principles themselves. If you enjoy reading…
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Traction/Entrepreneurial Operating System

Traction/Entrepreneurial Operating System

Summary
Several clients and trusted partners we work with have recently implemented some of the ideas discussed in the 2011 book, Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman. The book introduces an Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS) that small and medium-sized enterprises can use to simplify how they grow their business.   EOS® simplifies the many aspects of an organization into six core components as shown below. We will explain these six components and how they work together in a powerful system. EOS contains good tools for a small business if you don't already have a management system. None of the six components in EOS are novel, but the overall system uses the KISS method (Keep it Simple, Stupid) to help a business owner focus.     VISION A…
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