Building the Awesome Organization:
Six Essential Components that Drive Entrepreneurial Growth

By Katherine Catlin and Jana Matthews
Published by Hungry Minds/John Wiley, 2002

The only real sustainable competitive advantage that a company can possess is an awesome organization that attracts, retains, and inspires people to perform and innovate. Building the Awesome Organization shows leaders just how to do this. The book offers a blueprint for success for entrepreneurs, CEOs, venture capitalists, and all company leaders and managers


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What others are saying


Few leaders build truly awesome organizations. Many entrepreneurs and CEOs don't understand how to build one, or even why it is important. Others lack the necessary skills and knowledge to make it happen. Unfortunately, as their companies confront inevitable business challenges, they're faced with an array of organizational problems...problems that could have been avoided if they had known how to build a great company from the beginning.

In Building the Awesome Organization, Katherine Catlin and coauthor Jana Matthews identify the six essential components of an awesome organization and thoroughly explain how each is critical to growth and success:

  • Culture for growth. An awesome organization has an empowering, motivating environment that attracts and retains awesome people because it enables them to thrive and perform at their best.
  • Awesome people. The know-how, skills, insight, imagination, and ideas of an organization's people are the intangible assets that give the company its distinct competitive edge.
  • Plan for growth. Every awesome organization has a written — yet flexible — plan that defines the long-term and short-term requirements for growth and innovation. The plan helps guide decision-making and enables everyone to focus on projects, tasks, and activities that lead to achievement of the vision and goals.
  • Top team as leaders of growth. The CEO can’t do it alone. Each member of the top team needs to share the vision and fully understand his or her functional and cross-functional roles and responsibilities for implementing the plans and achieving the mission.
  • Infrastructure for growth. The organizational structure and three sets of processes (finding and leading people, planning and alignment, and management and control) comprise the infrastructure for growth. The infrastructure enables leaders to institutionalize the organization’s mission, vision, and values and makes work flow easily and efficiently.
  • The awesome leader of growth. As the company grows, the leader's ability to communicate a powerful sense of purpose and direction helps align everyone with the mission, vision, and values. That is one of eight key leader responsibilities that will produce an awesome organization with an environment that stimulates, encourages, and enables people to achieve extraordinary results.

Building the Awesome Organization features unique assessment tools that enable leaders and their teams to gauge the overall performance of their company, as well as the health of each of the six essential components. Step-by-step action plans follow each survey, so leaders can pinpoint and prioritize actions for improvement.

This book is a vital resource for everyone who wants to strengthen their organization, improve their competitiveness, and manage the growth that drives the marketplace.

Praise For Building the Awesome Organization

Guy Kawasaki, CEO, Garage Technology Ventures

“Catlin and Matthews have created the blueprint for a successful organization. Essential reading for entrepreneurs and venture capitalists everywhere!”

W.R. "Max" Carey, Jr., author of “The Superman Complex”

“What these two entrepreneurial thought leaders have done is awesome. They have taken things that many of us have sensed, felt or known intuitively and expertly crafted these principles into a turnkey execution plan. This is truly a “design for entrepreneurial success.”

Jack Stack, author of “The Great Game of Business” and “A Stake in the Outcome: Building a Culture of Ownership”

“I read a lot of business articles and books looking for a few good nuggets I can use to build and improve our company. When I finished reading this book, I got more than a few nuggets. I got an entire gold mine.”

Gary Hoover, author of “Hoover’s Vision: Original Thinking
for Business Success” and founder,

Building the Awesome Organization provides leaders and entrepreneurs with valuable tools for navigating the storms of growth. There is no harder part of the company-building process than dealing with the rapid growth that often comes with success. This book has real tools and techniques that can help anyone in any type of enterprise.”

Bob Nelson, Ph.D., author of 1001 Ways to Reward Employees
and co-author of “Managing for Dummies”

“A quick, concise entrepreneurial guide that yields real-world solutions for both start-ups and established businesses. This book lays the foundation for any business success!”

Dan Gould, President & CEO, Synergy Investment

“This book is an absolute must-read for any growing, entrepreneurial business. After reading dozens of the best business books, this easily makes my top five of required reading books for any business leader or CEO. It has made a profound impact on my thought process and approach to the business.”

#219 Inc. 500 list (2000), #420 Inc. 500 list (1999)

Aaron Kennedy, President & Founder, Noodles & Company,

“Being a first time entrepreneur leading a fast-growth company is like running full speed through the dark over unfamiliar terrain. Catlin and Matthews cast light on the path ahead, which allows you to take advantage of hidden opportunities and dramatically reduce the risk of stumbling.”

#45 Inc. 500 list (2001)

Jeff Behrens, President, The Telluride Group, Inc.

Building the Awesome Organization has all the elements needed to help build a great company — a recipe book of great ideas and practices. The depth and detail make this a very actionable book, and a must-read for any entrepreneur serious about building a real company.”

Pat Cloherty, Chairman, The U.S. Russia Investment Fund and
former President and General Partner of Patricof & Co. Ventures, Inc. (now Apax Partners)

“Finally — a book that provides practical, actionable advice to entrepreneurs and CEOs on how to develop an organization to support growth. It's a ‘must read’ for anyone trying to accelerate the growth of a company.”

Mark Rice, Murata Dean, F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business, Babson College

“Catlin and Matthews illuminate why building the awesome organization is the key to growth. But they go far beyond concepts and provide hands-on tools that will help entrepreneurs — in fact, leaders of all kinds of organizations — create success. I can't wait to implement these ideas.”

Dan Schimmel, CEO, OneSource Information Services

“Practical, incisive, well-written. No more excuses for CEOs who lament their lousy corporate cultures. Just fix it!”

2001 Entrepreneur of the Year for Business Services in New England

Tod Loofbourrow, President & CEO, Authoria, Inc.

“If you only have time to read two business books this year, read Building the Awesome Organization...twice! Essential reading for the entrepreneur.”

#246 Inc. 500 list (2001), #347 Inc. 500 list (2000)

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Patrick Lencioni, author of “The Five Temptations of a CEO” and “The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive”

“One of the most practical guides to the nuts and bolts of building an organization that I have ever read. Any executive will find substantive insights that will make their companies more effective.”