Friday, April 9, 2010

"Help Great People Do Great Things"

(from Issues for Growth Vol.19, No.4)

Help Great People Do Great Things

At a recent ACG Denver luncheon, the keynote speaker was Jerre Stead, President and CEO of IHS. IHS is closing in on $1Billion in revenue, and since 2005 the company has made 33 acquisitions. Since completing its IPO in 2005, the company revenues have more than doubled and EBITDA has grown by about fourfold. Impressive performance indeed.

Jerre Stead’s message to the crowd was simple: The Role of the CEO is to “Help great people do great things.” He then described five key principles with which he operates IHS.

1. People are the only sustainable competitive advantage

Treat them all with equal dignity and respect. There are no “perqs” for anyone at IHS.

2. 100% trust of every person in the company
At one point Stead ordered that the detailed IHS policy manuals (with hundreds and
hundreds of policies) be shredded. “Do we need guidelines? Absolutely! But, if you let
people use their best judgment, you never know how great they can be.”

3. Invest in Training and Development
“If I had an extra dollar, I’d spend it on training and development.”
It’s the best investment you can make and it’s the surest way to reduce involuntary

4. Facts are our friends
a. Not masses of information, but “actionable facts

b. “Give me three important facts that will help me make a decision.”

c. One of Stead’s comments was that all proposed decisions at HIS require the generation
of a “one-pager.” On the one-pager is the summary of the proposal, what decision
you are looking for, and “three facts that will help me make the decision.”

d. You can always ask for more detail, but get the key facts and help me make the

e. You never have enough facts, but if you wait to make the decision until you have all the
facts, it typically is too late.

5. Have an intense external and internal intellectual curiosity about customers
All senior meetings start with some interaction about customers

6. Reward … Reward ... Reward
Stead said there were five, but he added a sixth very important principle. Remember to reward employees
continually for company success

What are your thoughts about Jerre Stead’s key points?