The Success Matrix

As many of my readers are aware I've been doing a lot of angel interviews lately and talking to a lot of people about content for my upcoming book on angel investing. That has led to a number of reviews of pre-release books that I'll comment on here and may also comment on over at GoodReads and/or Amazon. There is a lot of great stuff out there and all writers should be readers.

I was a little skeptical about The Success Matrix at first, Gerry sent me a pre-release copy after we met at an event. The book is only 150 pages and a little bigger than a 5x7 photograph in size. Keep in mind, Gerry is a managing director at OVP (one of the oldest venture firms in the Pacific Northwest). Gerry starts the book with a fictional story that he talks about a lot in the acknowledgement and forward coming across nervous about how the story will land. Gerry did a great job with the fictional story though and rapidly walks the reader through a short intro to the concepts in the book that are grounded in every day life. This really makes the middle of the book more accessible for any reader. It doesn't matter if you are an executive, a student of business, an investor, or an aspiring entrepreneur - Gerry puts context around the concepts in the book that make them understandable and useful to anyone.

So what about the concepts in the book? Gerry breaks business down to its most simplistic form - vision, process, output. He admits this is simplistic, but as he walks you through how different people (with varying motives, experiences, and aspirations) interact with these three pillars that every business must have you can see how complex these three things truly are.

Gerry breaks people in business down to eight categories Dreamer, Academic, Brute, Bureaucrat, Merchant, Grunt, Loser, & Success. I had a little harder time with these names. They didn't resonate for me with what was being described. I think these names will resonate differently with different people depending on their world view. I personally would have rather had the list be... The Dreamer, Academic, , Bureaucrat, , Worker, , Generalist.

What a great book! I was a little skeptical about the book at first, Gerry sent me a pre-release copy after we met at an event. The book is only 150 pages and a little bigger than a 5x7 photograph in size. Gerry starts the book with a fictional story that he talks about a lot in the acknowledgement and forward coming across nervous about how the story will land. Gerry did a great job with the fictional story though and rapidly walks the reader through a short intro to the concepts in the book that are grounded in every day life. This really makes the middle of the book more accessible for any reader. It doesn't matter if you are an executive, a student of business, an investor, or an aspiring entrepreneur - Gerry puts context around the concepts in the book that make them understandable and useful to anyone.

So what about the concepts in the book? Gerry breaks business down to its most simplistic form - vision, process, output. He admits this is simplistic, but as he walks you through how different people (with varying motives, experiences, and aspirations) interact with these three pillars that every business must have you can see how complex these three things truly are.

Gerry breaks people in business down to eight categories Dreamer, Academic, Brute, Bureaucrat, Merchant, Grunt, Loser, & Success. I had a little harder time with these names. They didn't resonate for me with what was being described. I think these names will resonate differently with different people depending on their world view. I personally would have rather had the list be... The Dreamer, Academic, Opportunist, Bureaucrat, Worker, Laborer, Misfit, Generalist. My new names were The Opportunist, The Worker, The Laborer, The Misfit, & The Generalist

  • The Opportunist - knows what it wants and often gets what it wants, but is often distracted and has no repeatable method to reach the things he wants.
  • The Worker - give them a vision and set them on their path - they'll follow the procedure and produce output until the end of time - they won't help with vision though.
  • The Laborer - not that they do physical labor... but they don't have vision or process. If you give them an output requirement and nothing else, they will get it done - no matter what.
  • The Misfit - I like misfit better than loser... at the end of the day, we're not talking about a loser - we are talking about someone who doesn't fit within the team well. Maybe they used to and did not adapt, or maybe their performance peaked and they are bored. Whatever the reason - they no longer fit within the team.
  • The Generalist - the generalist is almost the opposite of the misfit - they like vision, process, output and like to do those things at any scope or scale.

 

Relating the concepts in the book to my own life and investment style really got me thinking about a few interesting things that I wanted to share.

How is my investing changing as a result of reading The Success Matrix?

I am thinking more about team - not just do I believe in the team, do they have expertise, do they have tenacity, and so on... but do they have all the right components on the team to get them through the vision, process, and output. If they have a great vision, do they have people who have a track record of process & output with visions of similar scale or scope? It may be two founders - but they still have to be able to operate within the basic bounds of business. This is true for private and public investments as both still need to bring these three pillars.

How is my personal life changing as a result of reading The Success Matrix?

I am thinking more about where I fit into the teams I am on. I do a lot of stuff - honestly most of it is independent activity (where I am not on a team) - that makes my need to understand where I fit into the teams I do work on so much more important. Who else is on the team - are they bringing the vision? Does that mean my vision may conflict with theirs? How do we reconcile that? If we can't - am I on the right team? I have begun this exercise with all the teams I am a part of (boards, project teams, due diligence teams, and so on.)

How is my consulting/mentoring/advising changing as a result of reading The Success Matrix?

I am a lot more concerned about how things are being accomplished within teams that I work with and am working harder to ensure the right players are engaged to satisfy each of the pillars. I tried to push companies away from heroics, but now have another framework to use to discuss the difficulties of heroics and what it would look like without heroics. This is making my operational engagement with companies and projects much more satisfying.

All in all - I highly recommend it, in fact it is one of the few business books I recommend broadly (most have more niche audiences). I think Gerry does a good job at making the concept broad (even if I don't like the labels he uses to categorize the people in the book). It is available on Amazon and other places.

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