Time for Just One Book? Make it “Ownership Thinking”

Ownership Thinking by Brad Hams has helped many software developer businesses improve accountability and profitability.

ownership thinking

National best-seller lists aren’t my go-to source for great business books. Instead, I heed the advice of executives at successful IT solution provider companies, both ISVs and VARs, to learn which titles should get my time and attention. The book I hear mentioned in our channel as having the biggest impact is Ownership Thinking by Brad Hams. Multiple software developers and resellers have mentioned to me that the book has improved accountability and profitability at their organizations.

I first learned about Ownership Thinking through keynote speaker Tom Bouwer at the 2013 RSPA Inspire Conference in Curacao. Following are 23 insightful quotes from Ownership Thinking that apply to ISV organizations:

  1. Ownership Thinking is about moving employees away from only the “me” way of thinking and toward the concerns of the business and its financial performance.
  1. What we want to achieve: The creation of organizations whose employees think and act like owners toward creating wealth (which, in turn, creates opportunity). We want to create great cultures that are fun and rewarding to work in.
  1. The four components of Ownership Thinking: the Right Incentives, the Right Education, the Right Measures, and the Right People.
  1. Create a culture where:
    1. Everyone is challenged and must take responsibility for their company’s destiny and their role within it
    2. Workers know what the heck is going on and how they contribute
    3. Everyone is a “part of”
    4. People have fun
  1. For an organization to achieve excellence, it must engage all of its members.
  1. Skills can usually be taught, but my experience tells me that attitudes and behaviors are pretty tough to change.
  1. An incentive plan must be self-funding.
  1. The absolute worst scenario I have encountered is a salesperson who is commissioned on revenue and has the ability to negotiate or manipulate pricing. The company is just asking for reduced margins.
  1. Everyone can contribute to the financial performance of the company, and everyone can sabotage it.
  1. In absence of information, people make stuff up.
  1. When employees assume their company is making wheelbarrows of money, they become wasteful.
  1. I don’t believe that full disclosure is necessary. I believe that employees simply need to receive the information necessary for them to do the best job they can.
  1. If you have too many measures, it’s quite likely that none of them will get measured very well. Or, people will become overwhelmed and then paralyzed.
  1. Industry standards = “this is what mediocrity looks like”
  1. The objective of a Rapid Improvement Plan (RIP) is to attack and improve one Key Performance Indicator (KPI) at a time with a high-involvement, detailed plan.
  1. The six steps to creating RIPs:
    1. Identify a KPI that needs improvement.
    2. Identify a quantifiable goal and a time frame for the RIP (typically 90 days).
    3. Quantify the financial benefit of reaching the goal.
    4. Determine the actions and people required to achieve the goal.
    5. Name the RIP and create a theme (have some fun).
    6. Identify a celebration for reaching the goal.
  1. 90 days is long enough for organization members to significantly affect a KPI, but not so long that they lose interest.
  1. A celebration should be identified at the beginning of the RIP that will be carried out if the goal is met.
  1. The biggest problem with creating RIPs is that people overthink them. They turn them into something very ominous and complicated.
  1. Companies are pretty good at starting things, but not very good at following through with them.
  1. People become advocates of what they understand, appreciate, and take ownership of.
  1. Adults address reality and deal with it. Adults don’t argue with reality. Adults remain calm in the face of adversity or failure – and they simply try again.
  1. Regardless of the economic conditions (or any other circumstances for that matter), some companies will win, and some companies will lose. The winning companies (and people) will be those that accept reality for what it is and make the decisions and take the actions that will get them through successfully.  

Zebra Workstation Connect
Jim Roddy

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Jim Roddy is a Reseller & ISV Business Advisor for Vantiv’s PaymentsEdge Advisory Services. He has been active in the POS channel since 1998, including 11 years as the President of Business Solutions Magazine, six years as a Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA) board member, and one term as RSPA Chairman of the Board. Jim is regularly requested to speak at industry conferences and he is author of the book Hire Like You Just Beat Cancer.