Good to Great guru Jim Collins asks “Does everyone here have a To Do list?” Hundreds of Inc. 5000 entrepreneurs are assembled for his main stage presentation. All hands go up. Then he asks: “How many people in this room have a Stop Doing list?” Appreciative murmurs, but few hands.
He says he won’t pose the existential question. “I will leave it up to you whether to put a Stop Doing on your To Do list.”
An attendee then asks what’s on his Stop Doing list. He thinks briefly and responds: His major Stop Doing this year is to get rid of layers and re-organize his company from top down management to a hub and spoke model. “I want to be in direct touch,” he says.
His second Stop Doing is to stop unnecessary fire drills. By that he means responding too dramatically to emails and causing havoc amongst his staff. Now he only does email when he’s offline. He doesn’t hit Send, he hits the Save button – and sends later.
He pauses… a third Stop was one of his most important. Some years ago he decided to stop watching TV. “It made time for this glorious activity called Thinking and Reading,” he crows.
Jim Collins’ Top Ten To Do List
1. Go to his site and download the Good to Great diagnostic tool and do it with your team to find good areas and areas that need work.
2. How many of your key seats have the right people in them? Track as rigorously as you track your financials.
3. Really embrace getting Gen Yers in your face. Aggressively seek them out and get them to make you feel uncomfortable. (Wish he’d said more about this… didn’t give us any specifics.)
4. In chapter 5 of Good to Great we talk about using a Council. Build your Council (of five to 12 people in your organization) and use it socratically.
5. Have someone start tracking your questions-to-statement ratio and try to double it next year.
6. He tells us he could work 1000 hours this next week and still not finish. What’s key is taking time to think. Schedule white space days six months out, where nothing is scheduled and the only purpose of the day is to think.
7. Start your Stop Doing list.
8. Know what your values are. (Use a guide on his site, he says. Will link to when I find it.)
9. Set a 15 – 25 year BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal).
10. Prepare the company to be great without you.