Mastering the Rockefeller Habits Checklist

July 26, 2022 Neale Lewis

Best-selling author Verne Harnish studied John D. Rockefeller in-depth to determine the 10 Rockefeller Habits to his continued success.  These habits haven't changed for over 100 years, since Rockefeller first started implementing them in Standard Oil, and in doing so enabled him to become the wealthiest person in the world.

By mastering these habits you will dramatically improve the profitability of your business, and at the same time significantly reduce the amount of time that it takes to manage your business.

After all, you can have the greatest team (PEOPLE), with the greatest ideas (STRATEGY), and profitable (CASH) to roll out innovations, but if the team doesn’t efficiently perform (EXECUTE)… will you accomplish anything in the end? No. No action will be taken. The great idea will die on the drawing board without execution.

Each of the 10 Rockefeller Habits typically includes four behaviours to perform consistently as a team. Here’s a very brief recap of the categories, along with the Scaling Up trademarked Rockefeller Habits Checklist.

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Ask yourself, if this was a checklist, would I score a perfect 40?

  1. Healthy Team: Is your leadership team healthy & aligned?
  • Team members understand each other’s differences, priorities, and styles.
  • The team meets frequently (weekly is best) for strategic thinking.
  • The team participates in ongoing executive education (monthly recommended).
  • The team is able to engage in constructive debates and all members feel comfortable participating.
  1. Alignment to the Main Thing: Can your whole company state the #1 Main Thing for the day, the week, the month, or the quarter?
  • The Critical Number is identified to move the company ahead this quarter.
  • 3-5 Priorities (Rocks) that support the Critical Number are identified and ranked for the quarter.
  • A Quarterly Theme and Celebration/Reward are announced to all employees that bring the Critical Number to life.
  • Quarterly Theme/Critical Number posted throughout the company, and employees are aware of the progress each week.
  1. Meeting Rhythms: Is your team pulsing with the synchronized heartbeat of your company in Daily Huddles?
  • All employees are in a daily huddle that lasts less than 15 minutes.
  • All teams have a weekly meeting.
  • The executive and middle managers meet for a day of learning, resolving big issues, and DNA transfer each month.
  • Quarterly and annually, the executive and middle managers meet offsite to work on the 4 Decisions.
  1. Clear Accountabilities: Do you run your company by metrics rather than your gut?
  • The Function Accountability Chart (FACe) is completed (right people, doing the right things, right). It’s more than an Org Chart – each person and title are listed along with their Top 3 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that clearly identify if they had a good day or a productive week.
  • Financial statements have a person assigned to each line item. The person should be ensuring the expenditures are on budget every month and making adjustments. 
  • Each of the 4-9 processes on the Process Accountability Chart (PACe) has someone that is accountable for them.
  • Each 3 to 5-year Key Thrust/Capability has a corresponding expert on the Advisory Board if internal expertise doesn’t exist.
Employee Feedback: How often do you solicit employee feedback, surveys, engagement scores, and Start. Stop. Keep questionnaires?

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  • All executives (and middle managers) have a Start/Stop/Keep conversation with at least one employee weekly.
  • The insights from employee conversations are shared at the weekly executive team meeting.
  • Employee input about obstacles and opportunities is being collected weekly.
  • A mid-management team is responsible for the process of closing the loop on all obstacles and opportunities.
  1. Customer Feedback: Are you conducting Net Promoter Score one-question surveys to know the brand perception of all your stakeholders?
  • All executives (and middle managers) have a 4Q conversation with at least one end-user weekly.
  • The insights from customer conversations are shared at the weekly executive team meeting.
  • All employees are involved in collecting customer data.
  • A mid-management team is responsible for the process of closing the loop on all customer feedback.
  1. Values & Purpose Alive in the Company: Are your Core Values just a dusty poster in the break room, or have you brought them to life with intentional daily and weekly activities?
  • Core Values are discovered, Purpose is articulated, and all employees know both.
  • All executives and middle managers refer back to the Core Values and Purpose when giving praise or reprimands.
  • HR processes and activities align with the Core Values and Purpose (hiring, orientation, appraisal, recognition, etc.).
  • Actions are identified and implemented each quarter to strengthen the Core Values and Purpose in the organization.
  1. Articulate the Strategy: Have you proactively worked on your one-phrase strategy being profit-driven and known throughout the company from top to bottom?
  • Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) – Progress is tracked and visible.
  • Core Customer(s) – Their profile in 25 words or less.
  • 3 Brand Promises – And the corresponding Brand Promise KPIs are reported on weekly.
  • Elevator Pitch – A compelling response to the question “What does your company do?”
  1. Know a Great Day/Week: Does every employee know if they had a great day or a good week with clear, accountable metrics for their specific role?
  • 1 or 2 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are reported on weekly for each role/person. 
  • Each employee has 1 Critical Number that aligns with the company’s Critical Number for the quarter (clear line of sight).
  • Each individual/team has 3-5 Quarterly Priorities/Rocks that align with those of the company.
  • All executives and middle managers have a coach (or peer coach) holding them accountable to behavior changes.
  1. Plans & Performance Visible: Do you have a posted Scoreboard that’s visible for everyone in their department to see their daily metrics during the company’s Daily Huddle?

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  • A “situation room” is established for weekly meetings (physical or virtual).
  • Core Values, Purpose, and Priorities are posted throughout the company.
  • Scoreboards are up everywhere, displaying current progress on KPIs and Critical Numbers.
  • There is a system in place for tracking and managing the cascading Priorities and KPIs.

WARNING :  You will drive everyone in the business crazy if you try to implement all of these habits at the same time.  The trick is to focus on one or two each quarter, giving everyone roughly 24 months to implement these simple, yet powerful routines. 

If you would like to take the Rockefeller Habits Checklist, please contact us and we will send out an editable pdf version for you and your team to complete.

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