How to build a new routine for business success
Written by
Mike McKenzie
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How to build a new routine for business success

Many leadership teams fall into bad habits when it comes to working ‘on the business’. As a result, they struggle to agree where they are today and what needs to change. Quarterli® uses the key principles of 'Habit Theory' to help business leaders build a new routine that will keep everyone pulling in the same direction.

Work on the business ... blah, blah, blah...

There’s no end of advice out there urging business owners and leaders to work ‘on the business’ rather than just ‘in the business’. We’re warned about the perils of getting caught up in the day-to-day and not spending enough time thinking about the longer term. We’re encouraged to 'think big' and commit to the 'audacious goals' that will drive the changes required for the business to fulfil its growth potential. We’re also directed to an array of models and methodologies that can support this work and help maximise shareholder value.

Despite this, the majority of leadership teams seem to struggle to escape from the daily grind and find it impossible to sustain a meaningful level of ‘on the business’ activity.

Quarterli can help you work on the business not in the business

So, why is this?

I have long thought that it’s a bit like trying to live a healthier lifestyle. There’s an overwhelming amount of advice out there on how to eat well, exercise and lose weight. Yet so many of us fail to achieve these goals...

Crash diets and demanding exercise regimes rarely work; it’s virtually impossible to integrate them into a sustainable daily routine, so they are soon forgotten. Many of us then get trapped in an endless cycle; wasting time and money on the latest fads or searching for that ‘silver bullet’ from the latest guru.

It’s the same in business:

We live in a world where we’re swamped with ‘content’. The many thousands of books, magazines, blogs and videos being generated each day mean that it is getting more and more difficult for us to ‘separate the wheat from the chaff’. Even then, no matter how powerful the technique or idea, and no matter how much we know it makes sense to adopt it, this proves impossible due to the day-to-day pressures of running a business.

As a result, the exhausting cycle of ‘in the business’ activity continues, often interspersed with sporadic, half-hearted attempts to work ‘on the business’.

In both these scenarios, passing fads and gimmicks need to be replaced with a more systemic approach. One that is both holistic and simple; so that it remains ‘front of mind’, influences in-the-moment decisions and gradually creates better habits.

So, if we are going to succeed where so many other business leaders have failed, then we must look to neurobiology and behavioural science for some insights.

The Eleven Principles of Habit Theory

"Habits are powerful but delicate. They can emerge outside our consciousness or can be deliberately designed. They often occur without our permission but can be reshaped by fiddling with their parts. They shape our lives far more than we realise - they are so strong, in fact, that they cause our brains to cling to them at the exclusion of all else, including common sense."

Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business; 2012.

The following eleven principles neatly summarise what established experts tell us about forming new habits and changing bad ones.

1.  Small improvements make a big difference.

Success comes from a series of small actions rather than a massive, once in a lifetime, intervention.

2.  Developing good habits improves performance.

They appear to make little difference on any given day, but their impact over time can be huge.

3.  Breaking bad habits really helps too.

Success is as much about recognising and changing bad habits than it is about forming new ones.

4.  All habits are not created equal.

Keystone habits have an amazing ripple effect that produces many more positive outcomes. (and ‘working on the business’ is a Keystone Habit for any leadership team.)

5.  Knowing how habits work helps you change them.

We're all slaves to neuroscience. So, understanding our 'Habit Loops' is half the battle!

6.  Adopting better habits demands a system.

It's no good just striving for goals, we need a system that creates better routines.

7.  Keep it simple.

You'll seriously harm your chances of forming a new habit if you make it too complex or demanding.

8.  It's important to make a plan for when and where you will perform a new habit.

Research consistently shows that desire or motivation just isn't enough.

9.  Outcomes are not immediate.

That’s why many business leaders fall back into those bad ‘in the business’ habits that provide instant rewards.

10. Reward the new routine.

As business leaders, we must create measures that provide a sense of achievement when we work on the business.

11. It's easier with a group. Don't do it alone.

Bring your senior team with you and work together to develop new habits.

Quarterli is more than just a business health check, it can help you develop better leadership habits.

So, whether we're trying to live a healthier lifestyle or improve how we work 'on the business', we must surely start to take heed of this well-established research?

That's why I created Quarterli®.

Introducing Quarterli®

Quarterli® is not another 'crash diet'; it’s a simple routine that helps you and your senior team build a shared view of where your business stands today and what you need to do differently to fulfil your long-term mission.

It has been designed to help you take advantage of the Habit Principles outlined above.

  1. It helps leadership teams develop a Good Habit; working 'on the business'.
  2. It's a Keystone Habit that many senior teams do badly, despite the best of intentions.
  3. It's about a series of Small Actions rather than a big, one-off intervention.
  4. It's a New Routine that can change a bad habit or create a new one.
  5. It's a Simple Routine that makes it easy to sustain.
  6. It's even more Sustainable because it doesn't require expensive consultancy support.
  7. It creates new 'leading measures' of business growth that Reward the New Routine (because we know outcomes aren't immediate when it comes to 'working on the business').
  8. It engages and involves the entire senior team, so you Work Together as a Group to develop this new habit.
  9. It provides a System and a Time and Place for you to perform your new 'on the business' habit. For many this will be every quarter, but for others, once a year will suffice.

The Quarterli® Habit

Quarterli helps you build new leadership habits

Quarterli® applies the eleven principles of Habit Theory to help business leaders establish a new Keystone Habit for themselves and their senior team. It does so gently, over time, without the need for expensive, and potentially divisive, external support.

1. Personal Introspection

The new routine starts with you. "Introspection" means 'looking inward: an examination of one's own thoughts and feelings'. So, as CEO, Managing Director or Managing Partner, you reflect on your organisation’s likelihood of success.

A simple online survey helps you assess how your organisation measures up against 13 Growth Probability Indicators (GPIs); each critical to achieving profitable and sustainable growth. This helps you establish where you believe the business sits on the Growth Probability Matrix.

2. Senior Team Survey

You then choose whose opinions you want to canvas and invite them to undertake the same introspection, anonymously. This is typically the Board or the senior leadership team, but you might also include trusted external advisors or an up and coming member of the management team - it's your choice!

It’s not just their ratings that are important, it’s the comments they add to help explain their ratings that provide rich, actionable insights.

3. Improve Leadership Team Alignment

The Matrix introduces a simple framework and a common language that helps you gently surface different opinions and assumptions without the need for external consultancy. Once the results are in, you’ll be able to see how well aligned you are:

  • Do you and your senior team agree on where your organisation sits on the Matrix?
  • Which GPIs show the widest range of ratings?
  • Which comments conflict with one other?

Your first priority is typically to improve alignment in one or two areas. This might require some analysis or simply setting aside some time to promote a healthy discussion. Whatever is needed, commit, as a team, to a handful of Growth Objectives and you’re up and running!

4. Establish Shared Priorities

Building a level of consensus on where you are now should allow everyone to work together to address any areas of relative weakness. The team can agree which GPIs need improving most urgently and commit to taking meaningful action.

Be careful, you can’t do everything at once, so don’t set the bar too high at this early stage! Remember, your goal here is to establish a new habit for you and the whole leadership team; it’s not a one-off intervention.

5. Improve and Validate Ratings

Every successfully completed Growth Objective helps you maintain alignment and increases your chances of success. You’ll gradually climb towards the top, right-hand corner of the Matrix. Periodically, you should seek external input to validate one or two GPI ratings. This helps ensure that the senior team isn't just deluding itself!

This simple  cycle allows you to make, measure and celebrate progress before recalibrating, reprioritising and repeating. This improves team cohesion and leads to more effective execution.

In Conclusion

If you're a CEO, Managing Director and/or Business Owner then it’s critical to work 'on the business' with your senior team.

Quarterli® is a simple, habit-forming approach that engages your senior team and encourages them to help you work ‘on the business’ rather than simply fulfilling their functional roles. This involves building a shared view of where your business stands today and what you need to do differently to fulfil your growth potential.

This is not a one-off activity. It should be a regular, structured dialogue that aligns the leadership team behind a clear mission and promotes 'healthy conflict' in order to identify, prioritise and close the gaps that need to be addressed.

New Leadership Habits 2

Quarterli® is not a magic remedy that will cure all ills, but it is an approach that supports leadership team development and will increase clarity and leadership team alignment on critical issues.

It produces more effective board meetings where you learn, as a team, to sense and quickly respond to changes in your environment. That critical capability will strengthen over time and will ultimately provide you with a competitive edge that will help your business succeed.

Like all new habits, it might take some practice before it becomes second nature, but over time it will change the way you and your team think, speak and act and will dramatically improve your chances of business success.


1. The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business; Patrick Lencioni; John Wiley & Sons; 2012

2. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones; James Clear; Random House; 2018

Quarterli® is designed to keep things simple so that you can lead this process in your organisation without the need for expensive external support. This makes it both affordable and sustainable. 

Start your Leadership Alignment Survey today.
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Discover more...

Download the free book to find out more about the Growth Probability Matrix™ and the thirteen predictors of business success.
Download the free book to find out more about the Growth Probability Matrix
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Download the free book to find out more about The Quarterli habit™ and a new routine for long-term business success.
Download the free book to find out more about the Quarterli habit
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Download the free book to find out more about the Strategic planning made simple and the 12 steps that will reboot your business.
Download the free book to find out more about the Strategic planning made simple
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Reviews & Testimonials
"There are so many companies out there that will benefit enormously from this."
Simon, Business Owner, London, UK
“The Growth Probability Matrix has the potential to have an immediate impact and get business leaders onto the same page”
Khalida, Director, Manchester
"I think it's a great tool, the USP is the assessment of Leadership Alignment. I have not come across anything else that does this so simply."
Jane, Manchester Metropolitan University
"A very insightful and useful tool. I'd say that the results are pretty accurate! I particulary like the simple Matrix and the helpful reports produced."
Zoe, Managing Director
"A great tool to measure your organisation’s chances of long-term success."
Ian, Managing Director
Is your payment process secure?
Is your payment process secure?
Yes!  We use Stripe, one of the most secure and reputable payment processors available. “McKenzie Growth Management*” will appear on your statement. At no point can we see or store your card details.

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I've never heard of the Growth Probability Matrix. What is it?
I've never heard of the Growth Probability Matrix. What is it?
The Growth Probability Matrix™ cuts through the often-overwhelming amount of business advice out there and proposes just two fundamental levers that can be used to improve your chances of success. The Matrix draws a crucial distinction between the Growth Potential of your business and the ability of the senior team to unlock this potential through Effective Execution. Both are key to shareholder value, but one is often (subconsciously) prioritised over the other. Download The Growth Probability Matrix eBook to find out more.
Who else can see the results of each survey and our Leadership Alignment results?
Who else can see the results of my personal introspections and my senior team survey results?
No-one. The scores and comments are for your eyes only, unless you choose to share them. Quarterli® generates all results automatically without any human intervention.

The system also automatically generates the live Matrix from the aggregated result of all surveys done worldwide. It updates every night and is designed to give some comfort to business leaders that their peers do not always rate their business as "Full Steam Ahead". I.e. many are in the same boat and are committed to improving the way they and their senior teams work 'on the business'.
How will using Quarterli® help us as a leadership team.
How will using Quarterli® help us as a leadership team.
The simplicity of the Matrix helps bring clarity to your thinking, even when embroiled in the day to day. This means you make better decisions. Once adopted by the whole senior team, it brings a common language and establishes a shared view of where the business stands today and what needs to change. It encourages a quarterly rhythm that changes the way senior teams think, speak and act, and dramatically improves your chances of success. Download The Quarterli® Habit eBook to find out more.

Quarterli® is designed to put you in control of your growth journey. Business leaders worldwide can access it at a fraction of the cost of hiring a Management Consultant.
Does Quarterli® remove the need for consultancy?
Does Quarterli® remove the need for consultancy?
No. Quarterli® is not designed to replace good consultancy, but it is there to help business leaders take back control and use consultancy in a more efficient and effective manner: Too many CEOs, Managing Directors and Business Owners effectively outsource their growth strategy and/or their 'on the business' activity. Consultancies are only too pleased to feast on this over weeks, months and years but it rarely delivers full value for the business leader and can hamper the development of the senior team.

Highly skilled consultants can add huge value to your business and Quarterli® introduces a structured approach that can help you become a better buyer of these specialists. You might actually end up using more consultancy but in shorter, sharper doses designed to deliver well-defined outcomes that Quarterli® will help you describe and measure.
Does that mean you are going to use this to sell me consultancy?
Does that mean you are going to use this to sell me consultancy?
No. We do not have team of consultants or growth coaches.

If you are introduced to Quarterli® by a local consultancy or business support organisation, then that is because they want to help you work ‘on the business’. If you subscribe using their unique URL then you’ll see their logo under the Quarterli® logo when using the system.

We don’t pay them, they don’t pay us, ever. If you end up using them for specialist support in the future, then that’s your decision. We’re not party to any arrangement, won’t know anything about it and certainly won’t be taking a cut of any fee that you pay to them.