Verne Harnish – “Thinking Out Loud,” with Substance

I had the privilege of speaking to the Gazelles this week in Orlando.  I presented two synopses:  The Checklist Manifesto and Multipliers.  The day was rich with insight, from presentations and conversations.

Verne Harnish

At this event, Verne Harnish, the founder of the Gazelles organization, the author of Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, and overall business thinker par excellence, just shares his latest thinking.  They call his session “Visitation with Verne.” I have pages of notes and ponderings from his presentation.

He started with a simple challenge:  “we need more rigor.” Good challenge!

Here are a couple of key thoughts from his visitation:

#1:  You’ve got to out-read and out-learn your competitors. Like all great insights, this is so obvious; yet we don’t see it, pay attention to it, do it.  After all the emphasis through the years on the learning organization; after all the insight we gain from this simple fact:  good leaders keep reading important books; we still don’t put reading and learning in their needed place in our priorities.  Verne reminded us that there is always someone out there trying to keep ahead of you.  You’ve simply got to out-read, out-learn your competitors.

Here’s an interesting way to think about it:  before you can be effective at “brainstorming,” you have to be very effective at “brain-filling.”

#2:  Forget “Strategic Planning” – shift to “Strategic Thinking, Execution Planning.” Vocabulary matters.  Vocabulary shapes behavior.  What you call/name something shapes what it becomes.  And Verne, the man behind the brilliant and exceptionally practical and usable “One-Page Strategic Plan,” (download it free from the Gazelles website, here.  Click the “strategy” tab), thinks that it is time for a vocabulary shift.

In reality, there is no such thing as strategic planning.  There is only “strategic thinking,” and then comes “execution planning.” This shift reminds us that “strategic planning” is in reality a two-step process.  Without the right strategy, execution can not win the day.  With the right strategy, a failure at execution loses the day.

There was much more from Verne.  But these two strike me as especially critical to our on-going pursuit of success.


You can purchase my synopsis of The Checklist Manifesto, Multipliers, and many other titles, with audio + handout, from our companion web site,

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  1. Pingback: The Pulse of a Firm's Learning Triggers the Adaptiveness of Its Practices | Amacus : Informed Innovation in B2B Sales.

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