This course focuses on the common human resource ("people") challenges faced by existing private businesses when they attempt to grow substantially. PART 1 OF THE GROW TO GREATNESS COURSE IS NOT A PREREQUISITE FOR TAKING THIS COURSE.
Most entrepreneurship courses focus on how to start a business. Few focus
on the next big entrepreneurial inflection point: how do you successfully
grow an existing private business? This is the focus of this Course. It
is based on the instructor's research and thirty years of real-world experience
advising private growth companies.
This Course will focus on the common “people” challenges private growth
companies face as they grow. You will study stories of how six different
private businesses faced their growth challenges.
While strategic focus and operational excellence are necessary to build
a great growth company, they are not sufficient. Growth requires the right
kind of leadership, culture, and people. My research clearly showed that
many entrepreneurs struggle with personal challenges presented to them
by growth, as well as the challenge of hiring the right people and building
the right management team that can play well together. The research shows
that every growth business faces common challenges. You can learn from
others' experience—you do not have to "reinvent the wheel".
The Course format is story based. Each case tells a compelling story.
You will learn from Barbara Lynch, Ryan Dienst, Steve Ritter, Randy Bufford,
John Gabbert, and Mike Cote. In addition, each week, we will discuss a
different content theme. In Week 3, you will engage in a Workshop where
you will be asked to apply the Growth System Assessment Tool. You will
have the opportunity to create a Course Community of fellow students to
learn from each other as the Course progresses.
You will learn how entrepreneurs must grow, too; the “secret” of high
performance; people-centric leadership; how to create high employee engagement;
how to create an internal Growth System; and how to build a senior management
Please see Syllabus
further detail on weekly reading and assignments.
Week 1: The Entrepreneur Must Grow, Too!
In order for
a business to grow, the entrepreneur must grow. First, the entrepreneur’s
role will evolve from primarily being a “doer” to a manager then to a leader
and ultimately to being a coach/mentor. Additionally the entrepreneur in
most cases moves from being a specialist to a generalist to ultimately
being a “conductor”. We will learn from Barbara Lynch, a much-heralded
Chef who, with little formal education or training, built a multi-concept
restaurant “empire” in Boston, and from Ryan Dienst, one of the founders
of Global Medical Imaging.
Week 2: The “Secret” of High Performance is High Employee Engagement.
the Leaders Bank and Trilogy Health Services stories we will look at how
two businesses put in place people policies, practices, and a leadership
model that led to high employee engagement, loyalty, and productivity that
drove high customer satisfaction. We will also focus on the principles
of people-centric leadership. During this Week, you will engage with Community
members in Workshop learning.
Week 3: Growth Is Much More Than a Strategy—It Requires a SYSTEM.
is behavioral. To enable and promote the desired behaviors, entrepreneurs
have to create an internal aligned system that links, in a consistent self-reinforcing
manner, strategy/business model, culture, structure, leadership behaviors,
measurements, and rewards. This week we will learn from John Gabbert, who
built highly successful retail home furnishings chain Room & Board
his way, rejecting the common business practices of his industry. My MBA
students find this story mindboggling. If you have work experience, you
will also use the Growth System Assessment Tool.
Week 4: The Surprising Difficulties in Building a Senior Management Team.
was surprised in my research at how difficult it was for entrepreneur’s
to build a senior management team. In many cases it took multiple hirings
to get the right fit. And even then, getting the senior management team
to “play well together” was challenging. Lastly, most entrepreneurs were
not prepared for the need to “upgrade” their management team as the business
grew. This week we will study how Mike Cote took over as CEO of SecureWorks,
a floundering Internet security company, and grew it into an industry leader
ultimately selling the company last year to Dell for hundreds of millions
You may attend this Course even if you did not take Grow to Greatness,
Part 1. The only prerequisite for this Course is an interest in learning
about how privately owned entrepreneurial businesses grow. The following
people will find this course helpful: students at all levels, private business
owners, managers of private businesses, employees of private businesses,
and people interested in growth, economic development, and job creation.
All of the required Course readings are listed in the Syllabus and will
be provided for free by the University of Virginia Darden School Foundation.
Additional reading that you might find helpful for the Course includes:
1. Edward D. Hess, Grow to Greatness: Smart
Growth for Entrepreneurial Businesses, Stanford, CA: Stanford Business
Books, 2012, which is the book that this Course is based on.
2. Edward D. Hess and Charles F. Goetz, So!
You Want to Start a Business?, Upper Saddle River, NJ: FT Press, 2008.
This book was written for people who want to start a business. It focuses
on the eight common reasons why start-ups fail and how to increase your
probability of avoiding those mistakes.
3. Edward D. Hess, The Road to Organic Growth:
How Great Companies Consistently Grow Marketshare From Within, New York:
McGraw Hill, 2007. This book is based on a study of consistent high organic
growth U.S. public companies and their defining characteristics—the six
keys to their success. Company stories include Sysco, Stryker Corporation,
Outback Steakhouse, Best Buy Co., Inc., TSYS, Tiffany & Co., and American
Eagle Outfitters, Inc..
My additional list of good reads (not required):
1. Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, First,
Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently,
New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999.
2. Kim S. Cameron, Positive Leadership: Strategies
for Extraordinary Performance, San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler, 2008.
3. James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras,
Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, New York: HaperCollins,
4. Peter F. Drucker, Innovation and Entrepreneurship,
New York: HarperBusiness, 1993.
5. Michael E. Gerber, The E-Myth Revisited:
Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It, New York:
6. Charles A. O’Reilly, III and Jeffrey Pfeffer,
Hidden Value: How Great Companies Achieve Extraordinary Results with Ordinary
People, Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2000.
7. Robert I. Sutton, Good Boss, Bad Boss:
How to Be the Best—and Learn from the Worst, New York: Business Plus, 2010.
Videos and Workshops:
Each week consists of lecture videos made for the Course in short segments
of approximately 10 to 20 minutes each. The videos discuss the articles
and case studies to be read prior to the class. There are quizzes embedded
within the lecture videos to evaluate your understanding of the concepts.
You may proceed at your own pace.
There is a (non-optional) final exam of multiple choice questions.
You may choose to create a Course Community, which will allow you to learn
from your classmates. Communities can be formed based on your country of
residence or based on the type of business you own or want to learn about.
The purpose of the community is to provide a forum for you to learn from
each other. It’s an opportunity for you create and grow together.
I will be on the Course Discussion Forums from time to time to
answer questions, chat and respond to other conversations. I will also host Google Hangouts (web conferences) with up to 6 students at a time. The Hangouts will be recorded, and all students will be able to view the conferences live or later through YouTube.
- How will I learn in this Course?
This Course is based on the principle that one learns by doing. There
are required and optional readings. You will be asked to apply concepts
discussed in the videos and readings in Workshop exercises, and if you
choose to join a Course Community, you will learn from each other.
- What resources will I need for this Course?
None. The Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia
is providing this Course for free because of its mission to positively
impact society. Darden Business Publishing will provide all required Course
reading for free.
- Why is this Course important?
Growing private businesses is in many parts of the world a major job creator
and a key route to building a better life for oneself and one's family.
In effect, this Course is about the pursuit of hopes and dreams. I think
doing business is much more than just about making money. Doing business
is the primary way many people achieve their hopes and dreams to provide
a better life for themselves and their families. And in doing so, building
a business can also create value for employees, customers, and society.
Building a business requires the right strategic focus, a compelling constantly
improved customer value proposition, and the right leadership that can
create a high engagement high performance environment with the right team.
- What is the coolest thing I'll learn if I take this Course?
This course is really a practical course on leadership: learning how to
engage others in pursuits they find meaningful in such a way that consistent
high performance and excellence becomes the norm. No matter what you do
in life, you will be dependent on other people, and this Course should
be useful in both your personal and work life.
- Will I receive a Statement of Accomplishment after completing this Course?
Yes. Students who successfully complete the Course will receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructor.