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May 5, 2021

Book Review: Scaling up, Traction, Running Lean in relation to Investor Readiness

A while back at a meetup I ran in London, I explained the CMS360 framework and a well-read member of the audience asked how it differs in relation to key topics presented by leading authors. Namely: Scaling Up by Verne Harnish, Traction by Gino Wickman, and Running Lean by Ash Maurya. Hmm, well I hadn’t read those books so I couldn’t answer directly. A few weeks later having read those texts I was able to provide an educated answer for how these frameworks or methods differ to the formula we’ve put together and I was happily surprised that there was a clear difference between all of them. As a reminder, CMS360 consists of 7 themes with 21 topics, and the Ozone model Cycle of Success which is a management system to ensure you pay attention to the most important aspects on an ongoing basis and reinvent your business consistently as you develop.

Scaling up

Scaling Up by Verne Harnish – Verne looks in some detail at people, strategy, execution and cash. This is a great top down view. As next steps he recommends teams set up daily, monthly and quarterly meetings. CMS360 is a process that will help manage those meetings and drive execution towards goals through the cycle of success. As such the two methods are symbiotic. Verne also provides analysis forms and tools, and a SaaS application called Align. All of these make great sense and would be resources that CMS360 could dovetail with.


Traction by Gino Wickman – this approach focuses on six management practices and constructs. The six that Gino has chosen are critical and central such as the use of a scorecard and the attention to processes, and the work also provides excellent illustrations. The six practices are presented at a fairly high level and are more informative than providing a working practice that can be implemented. For example, the book lists processes such as The Sales Process and provides a descriptive explanation. In the CMS360 program we go into more detail by providing a workflow chart showing a ‘standard’ sales process and include templates for topics like metrics across a number of different business models.

Running lean

Running Lean by Ash Maurya – this is an approach to establishing a business model and then adapting/testing as you go using something called the ‘Lean Canvas’ which is a variation of the Strategyzer Business Model Canvas. CMS360 also sees the business model as a cornerstone that must be developed in much detail and adapted as you go. We recommend the Business Model Canvas for this purpose although using the Lean Canvas would not be out of place in any way. From my observations, existing models with these canvases included, tend to look at pricing and product roadmap as something outside the visioning process but I actually don’t see these as separate from the core business model. For me there’s no sense in having a business model vision and not thinking of where it will go and how pricing will work at the same time. Still, the Business Model Canvas is well-understood globally and for this reason it forms a core part of the CMS360 business modelling process.

Investor readiness

A text to accompany the CMS360 program is under development but the framework we have defined continues to resonate with founders that we work with. As a short reminder, the 7 themes of the framework we have defined are: business model, creative, media, systems, people, financials and sustainability, with 3 topics identified for each theme. We then defined a cycle of success consisting of designing, planning and managing the business with a structured approach to do forward engineering of the business. More about this can be found here.

Recommendation and next steps

The texts referred to above are very good to provide a strong viewpoint on the three specific terms that they represent, namely scaling up, traction and running lean. These are massively used buzzwords in the startup ‘industry’ and so it’s important founders have a good understand of these management perspectives. Discussion around this is very likely to come up in investor presentations.

In relation to investor readiness, we’ll continue to do book reviews and comparisons to help our community understand how the CMS360 program is positioned and elicit discussion about the relative merits of each point of view. The goal for us is to fast-track understanding and provide practical tools to help you get your business off the ground, more profitable or back on track, wherever you happen to be in the development cycle.

As always, feedback is very welcome. I’m keen to learn what others have experienced and whether the ideas outlined here resonate. Also if you need help with defining any of these elements then get started with our free guide “7 rules for raising capital” available here.

Azfar Haider
CMS360 is a set of management practices and solutions designed for today’s high growth companies. Our frameworks guide teams to be successful in launching and scaling businesses and the online program consists of courses, coaching and community.

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