You’re Five Steps Away from Business Greatness

‘Great by Choice’ co-author Morten Hansen outlines five steps to achieving more with your company at NSCA Business and Leadership Conference.

If you’ve been running your business thinking success comes from being a charismatic, bold, visionary risk-taker, Morten Hansen has some bad news for you.

Hansen, who co-authored “Great By Choice,” told 2016 NSCA Business and Leadership Conference attendees there are five factors that go into navigating the increasingly harsh business world to achieve greatness, but you have to be willing to embrace the new approach to achieve better results.

“The only option to change your results is to change what you’re doing,” said Hansen.

The transformation, he said, starts with 10x leadership, which includes fanatic discipline, empirical creativity and productive paranoia. Under fanatic discipline, your words match your actions, your principles mimic your commitment and your goals lead to consistency. Empirical creativity, said Hansen, is rooted in data and study because “new ideas aren’t in short supply.” Productive paranoia can take on three forms: worry, hypervigilance and action.

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The second factor in creating a great business and being a great leader is the 20-mile march, a journey in which you realize what’s truly important to your success. From there, you develop priorities for your company, but be careful not to make the list too long, said Hansen.

“If you have more than three priorities, you have no priorities,” he said. “It’s not about being the most innovative company. It’s about how you innovate.”

The third factor in achieving greatness is the principle of the uncalibrated cannonball versus the bullets and cannonball. Progressive Insurance has found 88 percent of companies succeed using the latter approach as opposed to about 22 percent with the cannonball only. Under the bullets and cannonball tandem, you fire bullets first and see if that works. From there, you can decide whether to bet big and fire the cannonball.

Hansen said this factor comes with three important questions: Do you experiment enough? Do you scale experiments that work? Do you avoid big bets?

“In a world full of change, it’s very difficult to analyze your way to the answer,” said Hansen. “If it works, it could become scalable.”

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The fourth factor in business greatness is to lead above the death line. That means business leaders must put themselves in the details of their companies and remove themselves when necessary.

“The path to greatness in business is paved by prudent action, not risky bets,” he said. “A lot of threats happen on the periphery so you have to be on two levels at once.”

The final factor is what Hansen dubs his SMaC recipe, made up of a systematic (formula), methodological (works) and consistent (durable) approach. This usually takes about eight to 12 months to enact, said Hansen.

“The path to greatness is a combination of continuity and change,” he said. “Chronic change is a recipe for disaster just as doing the same thing as five years ago is a recipe for disaster. Change is not something to fear. It’s something to embrace. It gives you the chance to take the business to the next level—if you do it right.”