- Scaling Up 4Q Conversations
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March 10, 2023

The use of 4Q conversations, a technique derived from the book "Scaling Up: Mastering the Rockefeller Habits 2.0," can bring significant benefits to businesses. By engaging in these conversations with end users, executives and managers can obtain insights and better understand the market. The 4Q conversations involve asking four specific questions: "How are you doing?", "What’s going on in your industry / neighbourhood?", "What do you hear about our competitors?" and "How are we doing?"

The first question provides an understanding of the customer's current situation, including pain points and priorities. By asking customers about themselves, businesses can build a rapport with their customers and create a more personalized experience. Additionally, this question can help businesses identify the customers' immediate needs and provide them with relevant solutions.

The second question delves into general industry trends, offering insights into what people are thinking and feeling in their observations. It enables businesses to get a sense of the broader industry landscape and identify any emerging trends that may impact their operations. By staying informed of industry developments, businesses can remain competitive and make informed decisions.

The third question is about competitors, and it can provide businesses with valuable insights into how their customers perceive their competition. By asking this question, businesses can learn more about their competitors and identify ways to differentiate themselves. Additionally, this question can cut through businesses' own biases and help them understand their competitors' strengths and weaknesses.

Only after these three questions have been asked should businesses ask their customers about their reactions to their offerings. By taking this approach, businesses can focus on their customers' needs before discussing their products or services.

In business-to-business situations, executives should call their counterparts, as this will make them more comfortable and enable them to pick up insights that others may miss. The results from these conversations should be brought to weekly executive team meetings to ensure they are captured.

The 4Q conversations form part of Rockefeller Habit 6, which involves reporting and analysis of customer feedback as frequently and accurately as financial data. According to this habit, all executives and middle managers should have a 4Q conversation with at least one end user weekly, and all employees should be involved in collecting customer data. By involving all employees in the process, businesses can ensure that they have a comprehensive view of customer needs and preferences.

The use of 4Q conversations can provide businesses with several benefits, including leaving the ivory tower, validating strategies, understanding what is important to customers, learning about the industry, learning about competitors, and gaining insights into their own performance. By regularly engaging in these conversations and observing patterns, businesses can gain the greatest value from this technique.

Overall, the use of 4Q conversations can help businesses gain a deeper understanding of their customers and the market in which they operate. By leveraging this technique, businesses can create more personalized experiences, stay informed of industry developments, and identify new growth opportunities. Additionally, this technique can help businesses stay competitive, differentiate themselves from their competitors, and make informed decisions.

author avatar
George Morris
I use my 20+ years of entrepreneurial experience and training to coach businesses on scaling up rapidly using Verne Harnish's Scaling Up framework. By doing so, my clients are more efficient and profitable, giving them the ability to make bigger impacts in the world. I deeply believe entrepreneurs are the best equipped to be the vehicle for meaningful change, and in the decade ahead, we'll see a substantial shift in how business is done. We'll move to a model where company purpose, impact, curiosity, and team health will be differentiators in overall business success. As Simon Sinek has pointed out, the finite games are the legacy of the past; we're moving to an infinite game.
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