The Hard Thing About Hard Things- Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

2 minute read

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  • A good summary @ URL

  • The book is geared toward entrepreneurs. “Most business books focus on how to do things correctly, whilst the author acknowledges upfront there is no such thing as a perfect business and however much planning you make, screw ups will inevitably happen. The author addresses all the major screw ups that have occurred during his time leading billion $ corporations and how his team made decisions to turn things around, or screw things up further.”

  • Some interesting text from the book:

    • Peacetime vs Wartime CEO.
    • IN FACT, things alway go wrong..which means WARTIME CEO mindset dominates often.
    • Peacetime CEO’s  — thinks long term and is a reasonable human being;
      • focusing on e.g., strategic culture builders, follow protocols, sets goals, makes back up plans and minimiizes conflict
    • Robust learning takes a long time (quickly learned = quickly forgotten). Your brain is like muscle. It takes time to absorb new concepts and new ideas;
    • Wartime CEO  — obsesses about the immediate need and couldn’t give a damn about anyone;
      • focusing on: e.g. let the situation define the culture, violates all protocol, doesn’t have time read a books about goals, has no back up plan and conflicts with anyone that gets in the way of the plan.
    • A healthy company has a culture of sharing bad news and freely discusses it’s problems and solves them.
      • You may experience overwhelming pressure to be overly positive. Stand up to the pressures, face your fear and say things as they are. Breed a culture of trust and get people working on problems instead of covering them.
      • ask ‘What would you do if we went bankrupt’. It can be a source of good ideas and potential pivots.
    • Large Organisations are slowed down by single people
    • Take care of People, Products and Profits (in that order)
      • Make the hard decisions quickly and don’t put them off.
      • Hire for strength rather than lack of weakness
      • Have clear expectations of who you are hiring with a realization that there is something seriously wrong with every employee in your company (including you). Nobody is perfect.
      • Involve multiple people in brainstorming but make the final decision solo. Consensus-based decisions tend to sway the process away from strength and towards weakness.
    • Minimise Politics:
      • keep up regular performance management and employee feedback with a good system of one on one meetings between employee’s an managers. These are an essential platform for employees to discuss their as yet unheard brilliant ideas, pressing issues, and chronic frustrations.
      • Don’t fall into the ‘Peter Principle’! (In a Hierarchy, members are promoted whilst they work competently. Ultimately they get promoted to a position they are no longer competent int (their ‘level of incompetence’). They are unable to earn further promotion and stay in a role they are not good at.)