We worry less about meeting product by product

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adjustments we have to make to meet the plan in the aggregate. We worry less about meeting product-by-product forecasts than about reacting instantaneously to unforeseen competitive developments. Finally, top management cannot manage without a thorough mastery of the details of its business. To my mind, no CEO can claim to be in charge of the organization unless within 15 minutes—and I mean this literally—he or she can answer the following questions. What are the company’s revenues per employee? How do the figures compare with the competition’s? What are the revenue-per-employee figures for each of the company’s leading product lines? What explains recent trends in each line? What is the average outgoing quality level in each product line? How many orders are delinquent? Which of the company’s top 20 executives are standouts, which are low performers, and why? Which departments could recover from a major competitive shock, and which are vulnerable to change? What are the yields, costs, and cycle times at every manufacturing operation? What explains the company’s stock market valuation relative to its competitors’? By now, I suspect, readers are ready to protest: Isn’t this a formula for “micromanagement” by the CEO? Won’t top executives get lost in the thicket of details and lose sight of broader strategic imperatives? Being in command of detail doesn’t mean interfering where you don’t belong. Collecting information, reviewing it regularly, and sharing it widely allows me to practice management by exception in the truest sense. So long as we stick to our systems, this organization virtually runs itself. I intervene only to solve problems and champion urgent projects. Great people alone don’t guarantee corporate success—but no company can succeed without them. Sounds like a truism, right? Yet how many companies are as scientific about hiring as they are about designing new products or perfecting the latest market-research techniques? Hiring is one of the most bureaucratic, passive, and arbitrary parts of corporate life. The day we founded Cypress we understood that our greatest proprietary advantage would be to do a better job of hiring than the big companies against which we would compete. We think we’ve sustained that advantage. Cypress now employs more than 1,400 people. Our philosophy of hiring (and the system that puts the philosophy into practice) hasn’t changed much since we founded the company in 1982. I know the entire organization is implementing the system because no one can bring in a new employee, no matter the No Excuses Management 4 of 28 6/14/2018, 2:27 AM
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rank, without submitting a “hiring book” that documents the entire process and gives comprehensive results of interviews and reference checks. Until we reached 400 employees, I read every one of those books before we made a job offer. I now share that task with six other senior managers. In no more than 15 minutes, with no verbal communication whatsoever, one of us can determine whether or not a hiring manager has followed our procedures. When the
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