Predictable Success & Promise-based Management

If I were to classify the business books I read into two broad categories, they would inevitably fall into "authored by a practitioner" or "authored by a theorist/researcher." If I'm really lucky the author will actually be both, but I find this to be rare.

Right now, I'm ripping my way through a book I just happened upon in my favourite local business bookstore that clearly falls into my "authored by a practitioner" category. Predictable Success is not full of jargon. But it's not full of primary or secondary research references either. That's okay if it appears to me that the author has enough first-hand experience to be able to draw-out reasonable and valuable patterns. Les McKeown does this very well in Predictable Success.

I like this book in particular because it focuses on the stages of growth (or lifecycle) of a business. That's been on my mind lately as we're learning from our beta users about who is more/less receptive to doing things differently than they have in the past (and therefore willing to adopt a new approach to executing their plans/work).

Here's McKeown's take on the characteristics company's have that are in a state of Predictable Success:

1. Decision making. The ability to readily make and consistently implement decisions.
2. Goal setting. The ability to readily set and consistently achieve goals.
3. Alignment. Structure, process and people are in harmony.
4. Accountability. Employees become self-accountable, in addition to being externally accountable to others.
5. Ownership. Employees take personal responsibility for their actions and outcomes.

This completely resonates with both my own experience and the research I've done over the years. And strangely, it also fits with an old HBR article I was reminded of (hat tip to Rory Meffen) last week entitled Promise-based Management by Donald N. Sull and Charles Spinosa. This article falls into my "authored by theorists/researchers" category.

"What really drives successful execution? Promises: employee's personal pledges to satisfy concerns of stakeholders within and outside an organization. And when strategy implementation falters, poorly crafted promises are usually the culprits."

Well-made promises are:


Good quality work from both parties. Especially interesting when mixed together. Like a good cocktail, I guess.


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