Pondering The 10x Organization

Dan Sullivan
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Recessions are the economy’s way of telling you to sit back and ponder the wisdom of your ways. So over the past few years, I’ve been thinking back over my development and the growth of Strategic Coach.

As an entrepreneur, I’ve had the experience of going 10x three times so far. I went from from $20,000 to $200,000 before creating the Strategic Coach Program with Babs; from $200,000 to $2 million coaching the Program on my own; and then from $2 million to $20 million with the associate coaches also leading workshops. Hitting the $20 million mark occurred about five years ago, so that’s when I started asking, “What’s the next jump?”

Seeing how we’ve grown so far, I figure the next jump won’t happen through a small number of us driving the organization with other people more or less carrying out orders. It’ll be participatory—everybody in the company will be involved in the same overall activity, but each person will contribute something unique through what they do inside that framework.

If you draw a circle around each individual, within that circle are a number of areas where that person’s daily activities impact the overall functioning of the company. If we could get them to just look at a discrete number of those activities—maybe five or ten—and ask, “What’s working about this? What’s not working?”, we’ll discover ways for every member of the company to make improvements on a daily basis that add up to exponential growth that’s faster, easier, cheaper, and bigger.

Issy Sharp at Four Seasons says he built the entire hotel out of things that went wrong, because he treats everything that goes wrong as an opportunity to impress the customer even more than if it had gone right.

Here’s a specific example from Strategic Coach: In our workshops, we set out binders at the beginning of each day for every person. These binders contain all the concepts and tools they’ll be working with during the session.

What works is that the binders look good and they present all the materials in an orderly way that makes them easy to find and use throughout the day.

What doesn’t work is that sometimes we’ve had slip-ups when last-minute additions or changes came through too late to get incorporated, so the binders contained the wrong exercises or were missing pieces. It’s confusing and leads to a lot of on-the-fly handing out and shuffling of papers—and that’s just not an experience we want to be part of our “show.”

For a while, we just noted these incidents as mistakes, until we backed up and really looked at this, asking what worked and what didn’t work. That allowed us to see that we needed to get the three teams who have input into the workshops to work together and give their final check-off before we put the binders together.

It’s a small thing, but we have hundreds, probably thousands, of these small things going on throughout our organization. Each of them is an opportunity to take something that didn’t work in the past, put a spotlight on it, and use it as the raw material for a solution that will take our whole system to a higher level.

This is such a crucial activity that I created a dedicated Strategic Coach tool called The Experience Transformer to guide our clients through the same process. We use this tool inside our company as well, and each time something big happens—good or bad—we have to remember to stop and apply it. Just having it in the toolbox isn’t enough. As entrepreneurs, many of us have a natural inclination to always want to start everything from scratch, but this puts us in danger of neglecting, wasting, or undermining the useful things we’ve already put in place. So we make it a consistent habit—especially in emotionally-charged moments—to stop and use thinking structures like the one I’ve described here that allow us to escape reactive, emotional thinking and access the higher, more strategic parts of our minds. This kind of elevated thinking is central to the Multiplier Mindset where 10x becomes a real possibility.