Gary Harpst should need no introduction within the accounting and finance world. Gary is one of three co-founders of Solomon Software which was ultimately acquired by Great Plains (and Microsoft later acquired Great Plains). Gary then did a deep dive into the success traits of small businesses. His research turned into a consulting firm and two books centered around Six Disciplines. During this show, we talk about VFOs, strategy, limited resources, and much more.
Who is Gary Harpst?
- Started career at Ohio State University in the Treasure’s office
- Co-founder and CEO of Solomon Software from 1980 to 2000
- Established Plumbline Solutions for Microsoft Indepment Software Vendors (ISV)
- Author of Six Disciplines for Execellence and Six Disciplines Execution Revolution
- Founder of Six Disciplines
- Named four times to the Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting by Accounting Today magazine
- Gary’s start in the software industry
- Solomon was first called TLB – what does that stand for?
- Three co-founders who have transcended five businesses and remain best friends
- The first accounting softare solution – start in Atlanta
- What is the purpose of strategy in small business?
- A funny question with serious implications, “What do you want your revenues to be in ten years?”
- What comes to mind when you hear the term Strategic Planning?
- No quick fixes to business excellence
- Why coaching is an incomplete activity
- Solomon’s story of limited resources when moving to their Windows platform – the story of 5 vs 100
- Visual Basic’s big role in Solomon
- The Six Disciplines® Framework
Worth Mentioning (Again)
What is the purpose of strategy?
The purpose of strategy is to agree on some vision of the future–what are we what are we trying to do? And then you start to organize and align resources behind it.Gary Harpst
Most businesses already have a strategy. Strategy isn’t always the issue. What is?
Michael Porter said it would be better to have a B-level strategy with A-execution than the other way around. For most of the clients we serve, we’re not we’re not their strategy consultants. We are trying to get these people to agree with one another so that they can align their resources. Let’s get some A-execution on a B-strategy than getting the perfect strategy.Gary Harpst
Integration plays a key role in the Six Disciplines® framework. Where did that concept come from?
I remember talking to a venture capitalist way back in the early days of Solomon. He says the primary feature for the middle market is integration. And I thought it was an interesting statement. He said what people need in the middle market most is to have things hooked together to save them time.Gary Harpst
VFOs or vital few objectives remain one of my favorite pillars in the Six Disciplines® frameworks. Business owners still struggle with limiting their priorities, right?
An interesting dynamic occurs once you start to get an organization required to align the resources to deliver the idea created by the very person who started it. That person can come back to become the enemy of the success because they continue creating more ideas. Instead of executing well on one, you end up being spread all over the place. This really creates a lot of disruption in the organization and reduces performance.Gary Harpst
Memorable Ideas from Gary’s Two Books
For years, I’ve been showing this chart to CEOs which is based on Gary’s research on successful organizations. Notice the importance of the strength of the leadership team.
Does a ‘stop doing list’ really work? Just ask Gary Harpst. When Solomon Software formalized its Stop List, sales took off. That Stop List is referenced in Six Disciplines for Excellence and is reproduced below with the author’s permission.
Gary introduces the Business Excellence Model™ in his second book, Six Disciplines Execution Revolution. When I first saw this 2×2 matrix, my first thought was, “He nailed it.” For a complete discussion about this framework, read the first chapter of the aforementioned book. The image is used with permission from the author.