The Business Pyramid of Success

I’ve long admired Coach John Wooden’s “Pyramid of Success.” In business, whatever blueprint, instructional manual or paint by number kit being used before the enterprise launches is quickly tossed aside once the doors open. After that, it becomes a freelance-thing or a free for all, for those lacking mentors, a Sherpa or the time to figure it out.

Through the years I’ve learned from reading, listening and asking that there is a pyramid of success for business. It’s just been a well kept secret, until today.

It consists of nine layers, all important, all requiring thought and work. Once built, this pyramid is easy to maintain.

At the base of the pyramid are Values. I’ve written extensively about the need to have a strong foundation to build upon. Values are what the company and employees believe in.

Layered on top of values is the Vision of the company. Having a goal keeps the future in focus and provides energy to move forward.

The third level is the Mission. This, like values and vision, provides clarity of what the company does by defining the clients, what business the organization is in, and the quality of products and services delivered.

Topping this strong foundation are two small layers. The first is what Mike Michalowicz, author of The Pumpkin Plan, says are The Immutable Laws.

He writes, “Immutable Laws are a blend of ethics, core values and self-assigned law, all wrapped up into one. They are the rules we have defined for ourselves, almost subconsciously, on what is right and what is wrong. What is acceptable and what is not.

What makes you happy, and what doesn’t. They are with you for life and they barely ever change.”

Michalowicz demonstrates by stating how important cash is: “Blood Money – We treat money like blood. Without it our business would die. We treat it with the utmost care and respect.”

The second is The Main Thing. This is a very short, simple statement that combines Values, Vision, Mission and the Immutable Laws into a couple of words so that every employee understands their critical role.

I like to use “Make Sure Every Client Comes Back” as an example, as well as “Zero Defects.”

The sixth layer is the Business Plan for the next 12 months. Without this document, success is hard to measure. Sadly, most organizations lack this document when there are many non-threatening, easy to use one-sheet plans available for use.

The seventh layer is the Growth Plan. This document answers the question of how the company will achieve the revenue and client acquisition goals that have been established. This document can be short, a page or two, and might actually be developed and maintained by the sales leader.

On top of the growth plan is the Monthly Action Plan (MAP), the eighth layer of the pyramid. This document is likely already used daily within the organization because it is a calendar.

A typical calendar highlights internal activities like company holidays and meetings. The MAP is to be used only for internal and external activities related to adding revenue and clients.

Prospecting meetings, trade shows, mailings, client appointments, price increase activation dates and new product rollouts are all captured on the MAP. All tasks are assigned to the single appropriate person responsible and accountable for hitting the deadline.

The top of the pyramid, and ninth layer, is the most important layer of all. Without consistent Accountability to monitor progress, and consequences for falling short, the business and all those working in it and for it will fail to achieve deadlines, goals and their potential.

No matter where you are (age and stage of your life) and no matter where your business is on its journey, you can always make a stronger, more focused organization by using the pyramid I have provided for you.