If You Don’t Know What the Rockefeller Habits Mean for Associations, You Should

December 1, 2020
December 1, 2020 Jamie Notter

Part 1 of an 11-part blog series on the Rockefeller Habits for associations


If you’re an association in 2020, it would be crazy if you DIDN’T have some COVID-19 war stories to tell. We’ve all made some pretty big adjustments. There’s really no rest for the weary, however, because right now is the time we should be rebuilding and gearing up for a 2021 that may not be as crazy, but is not going to look like 2019 either. That’s where the Rockefeller Habits come in. 

What Are the 10 Rockefeller Habits?

In the early 2000s, author, speaker, and entrepreneur Verne Harnish built a framework that simplifies the best practices for organizations to minimize challenges and unlock growth potential. This framework The 10 Rockefeller Habits pays tribute to John D. Rockefeller himself, who put many of these habits into action to lead up to his skyrocketing path to success. 

These habits are: 

  1. The executive team is healthy and aligned
  2. Everyone is aligned with the #1 thing that needs to be accomplished this quarter to move the company forward
  3. Communication rhythm is established and information moves through the organization quickly
  4. Every facet of the organization has a person assigned with accountability for ensuring goals are met
  5. Ongoing employee input is collected to identify obstacles and opportunities
  6. Reporting and analysis of customer feedback data is as frequent and accurate as financial data
  7. Core values and purpose are “alive” in the organization
  8. Employees can articulate the key components of the company’s strategy accurately
  9. All employees can answer quantitatively whether they had a good day or week
  10. The company’s plans and performance are visible to everyone 

The Three Pillars of The 10 Rockefeller Habits: Priorities, Data, and Rhythm

Now, you could make these a checklist and try to accomplish them all today, but there is a deeper method to Harnish’s madness. Each item is actually all based on three deeper pillars that motivate all of these actions, and it’s understanding that motivation that makes a leader of an association truly powerful. 


This pillar defines where you see your organization, not only long term, but also the goalposts everyone is expected to contribute to in order to accomplish the bigger mission. It is easy to assume that every player on your team knows and is aligned with what needs to be prioritized and in what order, but Harnish (and the PROPEL coaching team) takes this a bit further. It is vital to understand the habits that identify the true priorities—daily, yearly, and everything in-between—that bring action and progress to an organization’s mission.  


As an association your community comes together to take on roles and responsibilities that lead to making an impact, but how do you measure that impact? You can only identify priorities if you have connected them to data points. From collecting feedback from both your internal and external communities to tracking the progress made on each priority, collecting data provides valued insight into how the organization is performing. 

Related>> What I Learned from 1.15 Million Culture Data Points


The last pillar, rhythm, ties the 10 Rockefeller Habits together in a meaningful way. Rhythm dictates the flow of communication throughout the organization, and keeps every member aligned with goal status. Time is extremely valuable in our work, and strengthening the way in which teams conduct these meetings assigns purpose to every minute and agenda topic. With clarity on what everyone is working for, and the numbers to back up how progress is being made, rhythm ensures that teams are meeting regularly with a structured meeting cadence to create a routine of productivity.

How Do the 10 Rockefeller Habits Help Your Association in a COVID-19 World?

Right now, your association is all about reacting to the intense winds and waves of the storm 2020 has unleashed on you. But, as Stephen Covey said, “Proactive people carry their own weather with them.”

Verne Harnish’s 10 Rockefeller Habits put alignment, action, and accountability in the spotlight for associations to gather their challenges and meet them with a plan to succeed beyond expectations. At PROPEL, we use this very model as a foundation for the culture-driven coaching we provide to associations looking to amplify their impact and continue expanding their community. And over the next few posts, we’ll be talking about each of these habits individually, and how you can begin using them to empower your association and team. 

We know a laundry list of challenges and roadblocks can be disheartening without a plan to implement culture, strategy, and execution into your results. We can help. 

Learn how to get a one-on-one association culture coaching session and unlock your association’s potential for good. 

Photo by Omid Armin


Jamie Notter

Jamie is an author and growth strategist at PROPEL, where he helps leaders integrate culture, strategy, and execution to achieve breakthrough performance and impact. He brings twenty-five years of experience to his work designing culture-driven businesses, and has specialized along the way in areas like conflict resolution and generations. Jamie is also the co-author of three books—Humanize, When Millennials Take Over, and The Non-Obvious Guide to Employee Engagement—and holds a Master’s in conflict resolution from George Mason and a certificate in Organization Development from Georgetown, where he serves as adjunct faculty.
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