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Scaling Entreprenurial Organizations

October 2, 2014

Entrepreneurial organizations reflect the personality of the founder and emotional temperament that accompanies these individuals.

Capture“Entrepreneurship is the process of starting a business or other organization. The entrepreneur develops a business model, acquires the human and other required resources, and is fully responsible for its success or failure” according to Wikipedia.

New employees and executives brought into the entrepreneurial company need to ride the roller coaster of change that accompanies the nature of startup organizations. The companies are often bootstrapped together, short on funds, and long on ideas. Rollup sleeved mentality is the survival skill to get over the hump of profitability.

Great examples of ideas that are looking for funding can be found on Shark Tank (ABC TV), hashtag #SharkTankWeek. Ideas that are driven by the founder at times are blinded by their own passion. Passion does not necessarily equate with reality.

Entrepreneurs often seek two resources; dollars and expertise. Those entrepreneurs that win big are those that leverage the knowledge and experience of others that understand scaling of business concepts.

Entrepreneurial companies are great studies of personality and risk tolerance.

I have had the opportunity to work with some of the finest and most creative entrepreneurs in retail, packaged goods, and telecommunications. What they had in common is the intense connection with an idea and a focused commitment that revenues would flow with unbridled abandonment only if an investment is made in scaling their product platform. Long-term success of entrepreneurs comes from the understanding that success requires surrounding themselves with individuals that understand scalability within strategic growth planning.

Entrepreneurs need to accept what they do not know and trust other talent to close the knowledge gap. I had the good fortune of great mentors to learned and apply high-growth strategy early in the entrepreneurial game. These companies developed the product category and remain product leaders which include Starbucks Coffee, PowerBar, Jamba Juice, and NextG Networks (now part of Crown Castle). Each of these companies were driven by inspired entrepreneurs that understood the need for scalability as a clear strategy for future equity events. My role was application of technology and process change, while providing guidance to HR with managing cultural change that positively supported the entrepreneurial spirit of the founders. Proper planning lays the foundation for planned cultural shifts as organizations grow.

Lessons I learned along the way about organizational scaling:

View Infrastructure is a profit center: The organization will experience real growth when there is acceptance of the investment in infrastructure. This understanding is directly associated with strategic planning. The organization needs to commit to the costs and changes and measure change in terms of a profit center based on impact to overall performance. The cost associated with process change and technology investment can be translated straight to the P&L.

Scalability: Growth will die if the infrastructure is not scalable. Understand what is required and the timing of changes that allow infrastructure to evolve with planned disruption.

Investment: Infrastructure development is an investment just like other R&D. Planning is the precursor of cycle change.

Education: Aggressive education of decision makers about operational changes that need to take place to keep pace with growth. Leadership and planning teams must be prepared to anticipate change and how it affects the organization to manage effectively.

When companies cannot grow they die. Others will fill the void very quickly. Entrepreneurs need to think about growth and succession planning around roles and responsibility to keep momentum moving forward. To scale an organization is to shift and share decision making and allow organizational leadership do what they do best.


Dr. Henry Hirschel, DBA, MBA, MS-Ed


Thank You Note Primer

August 5, 2014

Snail Mail & EmailI just sat down to write a series of thank you notes for an interview I had earlier today.

Five different notes need to be written. One note must be sent to each individual that was part of the interview process. Each must be individualized to provide content relevant to the topics discussed and potentially clarify ideas that were not fully explored. The content must be viewed as cordial and relevant.

I extend the bond of the interview by recapping specific strengths while highlighting the added value I would bring to the organization. I tell a story that weaves personal information with specific topics discussed.  One additional goal of my thank you note is alignment with the culture of the organization.

When speed of delivery is a concern then it makes sense to send the note through email. However when urgency is not a factor the note can be sent as an email or in handwritten form using the postal service.

Does delivery modality make a difference?

Classical thinking supports the contention that a hand written note provides a more memorable connection than email. However, a well written note is influential leaving a lasting impression in any form. The goal is a note that is deliver in a timely fashion with a message that sets you apart from the crowd.

If 24 hours is the standard for delivery of a thank you note then in many cases a handwritten note or email will be received within that period of time. First Class mail is processed by the USPS on a priority basis. This class of mail goes to the front of the USPS line.  Locally, first class will typically be delivered in 1-2 days.

Personally, I like to send handwritten notes. I believe a handwritten note is perceived to be special.


Henry Hirschel
Doctor of Business Administration | MBA | MSEd
415.850.6361 | |

Colors of the Resume’

June 28, 2014

Creative Resume’ Heat Map

A creative resume is a paradigm shift to a personal story in art form. Display of graphic content with a heat map highlight skills which transforms the resume’ into a presentation of experiences and goals rather than the mundane black words on white paper. This is a differentiator during the quick scan in the “CV Mountains” of competition.

“My resume’ needs to open the door for a conversation about opportunities.”

I am an Information Technology and Operations Executive that displays professional history in manner that is similar to the way I work. A creative problem solver with tangible results. In leadership positions I apply the power of influence to process improvement then overlay the right technology solution like an art form. To express this unique business approach I created a resume’ as a contemporary presentation of skills using a wide palette of colors.

My business success is understanding intangible events which are difficult to measure yet critical to success; a skill that is a challenge to express on a resume’. Explaining the working methodology one needs to wrap the skills of a social worker with the business acumen of a corporate executive. Success with complex projects is a left-brain-right-brain strategy which is difficult to visualize. I needed a creative solution to present my track recored.

The traditional components are designed into the creative format:

    • Contact information
    • Profile and summary of qualifications
    • Education
    • Skills
    • Work Experience

A resume’ needs to ebb and flow in an effort to be contemporarily valuable. Creativity is traditionally frowned upon. Key word search is the reality of the digital world. The resume’ content is written in a format that is recognized by electronic search tools. Throwing caution to the wind I developed a visual concept in an effort to demonstrate out of the box thinking. This approach differentiates my career and personality.

Understanding that a resume’ is visually scanned by recruiters in less than 20 seconds it must be optimized. Recruiters that have received the this resume’ format become curious and engaged with the content at a deeper level then with the traditional format. It is reviewed with an increase of interest.

The bottom line impact has been more time is spent by recruiters with this resume’ format than the traditional format.

“The goal is reached with an invitation for a conversation…”

It is said that doing the same old thing in the same old way gives you the same old answer. I have tried “different” and found the reaction to be positive. The goal is reached with a welcome by hiring managers as I walk through the door to explore the content within an artful presentation and the opportunity available.

View full resume:

Henry Hirschel
Doctor of Business Administration | MBA | MSEd
415.850.6361 | |


In Search of Knowledge

March 5, 2012

Discovery is inclined to come from a spectrum held at one end by chance appearance and the other end by extensive knowledge. Discoveries come with an investment of time and hard work or sometimes by an experience of serendipity.

Innovation is not a chance event but based upon knowledge acquisition.

“When no one knows why things work, potential inventors do not know what will not work and will waste valuable resources in fruitless reaches for things that cannot be made, such as … gold from [lead].”*

How often does one arrive at the point of making a decision without the supporting information? How are the results?

To make a discovery, “the range of experimentation possibilities that needs to be searched over is far larger if the searcher knows nothing about the … principles at work.”*

Decisions serve one best when made from the perspective of knowledge. The internet provides unlimited resources to follow the threads to build foundational knowledge. To move research forward requires greater understanding, a mixture of two ingredients willingness, and time. Tools are readily available to become a domain expert. Lack of passion or true desire to do the work is the constraint that stops many in their tracks.

To paraphrase Pasteur’s famous principle, “Fortune may sometimes favor unprepared minds, but only for a short while. It is in this respect that the width of the epistemic base makes the big difference.”*

There is no long-term shortcut. Any goal worth attaining is worth the struggle that accompanies it.


M Mokyr (2002),The Gifts of Athena: Historical Origins of the Knowledge Economy, Princeton University Press, Princeton and Oxford

Adaptive Capacity

February 26, 2012

What is adaptive capacity?

In very simple terms, adaptive capacity is the ability to adapt when the environment changes. It is a thought process where individuals embrace and explore ideas rather than demonizing them.

One would find “…failure is a friend, not an enemy. When things do not turn out as they had hoped, they transform failure into something palatable, even desirable. They see approaches that do not work as something that is not shameful, but as sources of valuable information that will eventually lead to a successful outcome.”*

Some characteristics found with adaptive capacity:

  1. Creative people with powerful adaptive capacity find pleasure in problem solving. Their brains become flooded with endorphins when addressing problems which becomes both a motivator and reward.
  2. In the course of making decisions those with adaptive capacity determine if they are on a path that is dissatisfying, if so they change direction to move down one that is more satisfying.
  3. Imagination is the catalysis for change looking beyond current and past experiences.
  4. Tolerance for ambiguity and change is found in those people with adaptive capacity.

This out of box thinking drives new perspectives.

Vaillant (Aging Well) notes, “It is not stress that kills us. It is effective adaptation to stress that allows us to live.”

Adaptive capacity thinking does not place value judgments on ideas but rather uses creative problem solving to find innovative solutions.

Disruptive technology is the result of adaptive capacity; innovations that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect. This type of thinking can revolutionize business.

Consider the iPhone….


*W.G. Bennis and R. J. Thomas ( 2002); Geeks & Geezers: How Era, Values, and Defining Moments Shape Leaders. Harvard Business School Press.

Telling a STAR story

February 15, 2012

When listening to a story words are transformed into a visual picture. Meaning is wrapped around the personal interpretation as descriptions are expressed. Story telling is an art that brings meaning to words describing events and experiences that are laden with facts that paint a picture.

In business the telling of stories is a way to communicate experiences. Behavioral Interviews are a perfect time to be telling short stores.

STAR stories have a simple structure that is perfect for behavioral interviews:

S – Situation: Set the context of the story by providing a description of a situation or event. Establish the conditions quickly and the circumference of the story to keep it in scope. Do not lose focus of the story’s objective. If the response is too long, the audience will be lost due to boredom.

T – Task or Problem: State the problem with an intuitive focus on the situation just described. What is going on in the situation that requires an explanation?

A – Action: Talked about the actions taken in response to the task or problem listed above. Too much detail may result in a glassy eyed stare from those listening.

R – Result and Impact: This is the punch line. List the result of the actions taken. Include measurements or explanation of changes because of the above steps.

Story telling in business is an engaging way of communicating information. The continuity created through the tread of ideas tie together a flow of connected experiences.

Response to behavioral interview questions can be short stories. A few sentences to identify the situation with a stated problem addressed, action taken, and results. Keep the story short, to the point, and memorable.

Think About Business Happiness

January 22, 2012

When positive work experiences occur in the business culture, it promotes a sense of happiness. Happy people create energy with high resonance that others feel physically and emotionally responding with complementary feelings. Employees see business ecosystems that harness happiness as exciting environments to work.

Why is it important to be cognizant of the level of happiness in the workplace?

Happiness is a measure of the level and quality of communication between people. This is not an obvious measure, yet one recognized when it is present.

“People who are mentally healthy and happy have a higher degree of “vertical” among their goals-that is, higher -level (long term) goals and lower-level (immediate) goals all fit together well so that pursuing one’s short-term goals advances the pursuit of long-term goals.” (Sheldon and Kasser, 1995).

Happy employees are an intangible asset that can differentiate overall performance and becomes a competitive advantage. Increased levels of happiness in business environments add to increased productivity and behavior. When short-term goals support long-term objectives strategic management is leveraged with a system designed for success.

If not happiness, the alternatives of fear and anger have dark overtones:

Fear: This is an emotion that slows the sharing of information. Fear is an protective behavior that limits communication because of perceived repercussions. It is not a healthy alternative in organizations or when exhibited by individuals because of the negative emotion.

Anger: The emotion places walls between people, setting boundaries driven by the desire to protect personal autonomy. Anger blocks dialogue by limiting communication sometimes even shutting it down for “fear” of reprisals.

Happiness is an expression of joy and confidence. Open the door to the intangible asset of happiness and see the business environment thrive.

Rule of Three

January 2, 2012
Performance management and rules of three

Performance management and rules of three

The number of objectives that an individual should be expected to manage is a challenge for organizational leaders. To reach the objectives described through a corporate agenda or Balanced Scorecard Strategy Map requires coherent planning. Organizational transparency embraces communications that support an agenda of structured flows throughout the enterprise. Simple solutions are not always apparent. Business may be able to learn from the military which is structured with cascading transparency of communications.

A management model comes from the United States Marine Corps Chain of Command. The Marine Corps uses the “Rule of Three”. Limited to three major objectives results in focused training and removes distractions from competing influences. The rule works like this: each Marine has three things to worry about. Three men to a firing team commanded by a Corporal. That is three men plus the Corporal for a total of four on the team when the team leader is counted. Three fire teams to a rifle squad commanded by a sergeant. Three rile squads to a platoon commanded by a Lieutenant. Three rile platoons to a company commanded by a Captain. Three companies to a battalion commanded by a Lieutenant Col.… When business process follows a similar model to the “Rules of Three” the drill down provides a clear picture of performance at all levels of the organization.

Cascading the rule of three through an organization’s performance measurements connect individuals to a common set of goals and objectives. Every individual becomes responsible for a limited number of results limiting other distractions. Each organizational level is responsible for specific areas of decisions that roll up to the company objectives.

Model of process improvement and “Rule of Three”

Use the familiar steps to determine what to measure:

  1. First: Determine the crucial performance areas that need to be measured.
  2. Second: Determine the critical success factors necessary to succeed.
  3. Third: Study each critical success factor and define the performance indicators that will measure success.

The process moves from general to specific resulting in relevant and useful performance measures. When performance measures are assigned to individuals the rule of three will result in focus understanding, minimal ambiguity, and a strong understanding of measurement changes.

Big Data versus Strategy-Focus

November 14, 2011

What is Big Data? Defined by Wikipedia Big Data are data sets whose size is beyond the ability of commonly used software tools to capture, manage, and process the data within a tolerable elapsed time. Big data sizes are in constant change and currently considered to be in the range from a few terabytes to many petabytes in a single data set.

What is a Strategy-Focused business? According to Kaplan and Norton, a strategy focused organization translates strategy into operational terms, aligns an organization to the strategy, makes strategy everyone’s everyday job, make strategy a continual process, and mobilizes change through executive leadership.

What does Big Data have to do with strategy-focused organizations?

Organizations that are looking at ways to mine Bid Data in order to improve their business performance should have that activity aligned with the overall strategy. Companies that are not Strategy-Focused, the data that is being mined may not fit within the definition of the organization goals. Strategy-focus companies apply collaborative process that are linked together in a holistic manner to insure that everyone understands the organizational direction. When Big Data is analyzed and does not support Strategy-Focused objectives the exercise may be futile since it does not facilitate or support the organization based on the existing strategy.

It is critical for organizations to align their data requirements to that of their organizational strategy. Big Data complicates this because of the volumes of information that can enrich the understanding of the business. Strategy-Focused objectives when used as a guide to define Big Data mining will insure that the retrieval of data supports the organizations overall business objectives.

Suggested steps to help foster Strategy-Focused data mining:

1. Understand the organizational objectives
2. Define the measurements to be used to analyze objectives
3. Determine if the measurements are material
4. Deliver the measurements using a pre-defined timetable

These few steps will clearly identify the data that is material to manage the success of the business environment.

LinkedIn: Evaluate your connections

September 5, 2011

After years of using LinkedIn it was time to test the power and quality of my connections. Reentering the job market the list of connections became one of the first assets I turned to in my search for a new opportunity. I created a marketing message about my status using MS Publisher and identified the type of position I was seeking. The self-marketing brochure included buttons to an online resume, LinkedIn, and personal website. The result of this effort brought forth several useful insights.

There are three categories of connections to think about when using LinkedIn: collector, selector, and friend. Each type of connection has differences:

Collector: Connections identified as collector increase the number of contacts in the profile. Generally, these connections are people with limited firsthand background knowledge beyond that provided on their LinkedIn profile. Recruiters have a large volume of connections in this category because of the need for an inventory of resources.

Selectors:  Individuals in the selector category are associated with an event or a common experience. Examples of people in this group are business associates, alumni, special
project participants, or people where the connection is based on a memorable experience. This group remembers you because of a shared experience.

Friends: Individuals in the friend category are connected because of a special relationship, which may include something similar to unconditional love. These connections will go to great lengths to help even if they are not sure what you are looking for because they believe in you.

The self-marketing email was sent to 400 LinkedIn connections. The selector category responded to the email with the highest percentage. Selector category remembered me because of a common experience that connected past work history, personality, or a shared experience. Friends had the second highest response rate because they wanted to help in any way possible. Connections from the collector catagory provided very few responses to my email.

From the 400 notes emailed, I received responses back from 78 individuals, which represents 19.5% response rate. Responses ranged from the simplest statement; “I will keep my eyes and ears open” to unsolicited introductions to specific hiring managers inside companies. Some viral marketing occurred with my original email being forward by connections expanding the initial email reach beyond the 400 original connections.

Lesson learned: 1) Complete an inventory of connections to determine their category based on the three connection types. This information will help to provide a picture of contact list “value” based on the intended use. 2) Whenever you have a good experiences with a colleague invite them to LinkIn with you. They will be part of the selector group and most likely category to remember you in the future. Selectors will be your strongest advocates if you need assistance looking for a new opportunity.