Traction is the ability for business leaders to “execute well, and they know how to bring focus, accountability, and discipline to their organization.”Gino Wickman is the author of Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business.
In accomplishing your goals, the most important thing is to take consistent action toward them. You need to have the vision, which is where you are going and how you are going to get there. Many people have great ideas; however, most people never take action on their vision or “great” ideas.
You can gain traction to make your vision a reality by doing the action steps that will move you toward your vision. In this post, we will help you establish accountability and discipline in your organization, and then execute. It may feel uncomfortable to hold your organization and people accountable, but growth happens when we are uncomfortable.
Traction is one of the Six Key Components of the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS®). In his book, Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business, Gino Wickman details EOS® as a complete tool kit to help leadership teams improve and grow their companies. To learn more about EOS®, you can read our summary of Traction.
What are Rocks?
Rocks are “the three to seven most important things that must get done in the next 90 days.”
With long-term priorities set by the vision, rocks are “the three to seven most important things [objectives] that must get done in the next 90 days.” In each quarter, everyone and everything should have rocks, including your company, leadership team, and all of your employees.
Rocks should be limited to three to seven because, in the short-term, you should focus more intensely on the most critical priorities. For individual employees, it is better to limit them to about one to three rocks. Remember that we are not trying to give the organization or anyone too many rocks, as less is more. By limiting the goals set, you and your people can focus on what is important, which will result in more work done.
Set SMART Goals
Rocks should be SMART (Simple, Meaningful, Actionable, Realistic, and Trackable), such that they provide clarity and set the right expectations for the work to get done. In Start Finishing, Charlie Gilkey states that we have to take our ideas and frame them as SMART goals, which is different than the SMART framework that most people are used to:
- S – Simple: “Help you know exactly what you need to do to move forward with the idea.”
- M – Meaningful: Provides you with a quick understanding of “the importance of completing that goal.”
- A – Actionable: Tells you “what action needs to be taken to accomplish that goal.”
- R – Realistic: Shows you that “the endpoint is achievable with the resources you have available.”
- T – Trackable: Tells you clearly “what progress means,” qualitatively or quantitatively; needs to establish start and end dates or it will not happen.
To learn more about Charlie Gilkey’s book, you can read our summary of Start Finishing.
Steps for How to Set Goals within the Organization
- Review your vision, and list out everything you want to accomplish in the next quarter. There will probably be around 10 to 20 objectives or rocks in total.
- Discuss within the leadership team or department, which goals are the most important. You can combine, delete, delay, or decide as needed to get down to three to seven objectives.
- Frame the objectives as SMART goals with assigned due dates, which will probably be at the end of the quarter.
- Assign each objective to an individual in the team, who will be responsible for that goal getting done.
- After assigning objectives for the department or organization, everyone should set goals for themselves. Everyone in the organization should have around three, at most seven, objectives for the quarter.
- Create a document, also known as the Rock Sheet, containing the objectives for the company and each department that lists everyone’s objectives. This sheet will help create accountability and discipline within your teams.
- The leadership team should communicate the organization’s objectives to everyone in a company-wide quarterly meeting.
Things to Keep in Mind:
- Setting the wrong priorities and goals will move the organization in the wrong direction.
- It takes about two quarters to achieve proficiency in setting solid priorities and goals.
- Commit firmly to achieving your goals such that you keep working on them in the respective quarter.
- Don’t set too many goals or priorities as you and your people will overwhelm yourself and lose motivation in the process.
“The fact is that well-run meetings are the moment of truth for accountability. To gain traction, you’ll probably need to meet even more than you presently do.”Gino Wickman is the author of Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business.
The Meeting Pulse is the reoccurring activity of holding well-run meetings to gain traction. The purpose of conducting these meetings is to induce your people to take action on specific deliverables that are due at the next meeting. People tend to procrastinate on work, so the meeting will provide a due date and time for work to get done. Meetings also allow for enhanced communication, accountability, and discipline. Over time, your people will take consistent action, which will cause your organization to gain traction on your vision.
There should be two major meetings held for the leadership team, which include the Quarterly Meetings and Annual Meeting. These meetings should both be offsite and scheduled appropriately in advance. This will build anticipation for the meeting, which will allow your leadership team to prepare and look forward to it. Additionally, having it offsite will break your team out of their typical routine and allow for newfound energy, thoughts, and ideas.
The quarterly meeting is a full-day offsite meeting for the leadership team to establish the organization’s priorities for the next quarter.
Quarters provide the right amount of time for humans to stay focused and understand what they are working on. After 90 days, many people can lose focus, so quarterly meetings are used to reset rocks or priorities.
Example Agenda for the Quarterly Meeting:
- Introduction: Have everyone share the big wins in their department and personal life, what is working and not working, and what they want to get out of the meeting.
- Review the Last Quarter: Review the essential data metrics, review the last quarter’s objectives, and observe what was accomplished.
- Review the Vision: Reexamine your organization’s vision, align everyone to agree with the vision, and update the vision documentation if necessary.
- Establish Rocks for the Next Quarter: List all the goals that you need to get done this quarter. Combine, organize, and delete the list down to get three to seven goals for the organization and assign someone to be responsible.
- Solve Company-wide Issues: Identify the top three issues in your organization. Discuss all parts of the problems, including facts, opinions, and relevant information. Solve each issue and assign someone to be responsible for each issue.
- Conclusion: Discuss how the meeting went and whether everyone’s expectations were met.
The Annual Meeting is an offsite retreat for two or more days for the leadership team to plan the year, improve upon the vision, and foster relationships within the leadership team.
A year is a regular interval of time to help us step back and reevaluate what we are working toward. It is common for many to set new-years resolutions, and so we will evaluate whether or not our vision is working for us. We will then plan our year accordingly with the work we want to get down. Lastly, we want to reinvigorate the relationships within our organization, so we work well together.
Example Agenda for the Annual Meeting:
- Introduction: Have everyone share their big wins in the organization, their department, and personal life. Also, they should communicate what they want to get out of the annual retreat.
- Review the Last Year: Remind the leadership team of the previous year’s priorities and goals. Everyone should review the essential data, priorities, and objectives to understand what got done.
- Conduct Team-Building Exercises: Do activities to bring your team closer together, improve communication, and reinvigorate the spirit of the company. If you have traveled away to another city or country, try to do something locally or in nature.
- SWOT Analysis/Identify Issues: Allow everyone to discuss what they perceive the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats are. Once you conduct the SWOT Analysis, this segways right into identifying significant issues within the company.
- Challenge the Vision: Question the organization’s vision by examing core values, mission, marketing strategy, and long-term goals. After reviewing the vision, establish a new three-year goal with data goals, including revenue, profit, sales, etc.
- Create the Annual Plan: After examing the vision and conducting the SWOT analysis, the Annual Plan should be more straightforward to create. The leadership team has to plan for various projects, milestones, and objectives during the year.
- Establish Objectives for the Next Quarter: Now, from the Annual Plan, list all the tasks that you need to get done this quarter. The task list will be consolidated down to three to seven goals for the organization with someone assigned responsibility for each one. Each member of the leadership team should also assign three to seven goals for the quarter.
- Solve Company-wide Issues: Identify the top three issues in your organization in order of priority. Discuss all parts of the problems, including facts, opinions, and relevant information. Solve each issue and assign someone to be responsible for each issue.
- Conclusion: Discuss how the meeting went and whether everyone’s expectations were met.
Weekly meetings within the leadership and departments ensure that everyone stays on track, which causes a spike in work beforehand. The book provides the Level 10 Meeting format for weekly meetings with a specific agenda designed to help you stay focused on what’s essential, solve issues effectively, and keep your team connected.
Meetings keep you focused on what is vital and help you resolve problems. Meetings should be held at the same time and day each week, follow the same meeting agenda, and start and end on time. Someone must be responsible for running the meeting, and another must keep everyone working on schedule and time. Additionally, the meeting agenda, datasheet, and priorities, and goals should be updated and available to all attending.
Level 10 Meeting Format:
- Introduction: The meeting starts on time, and everyone should be there. You should have a transition activity to get everyone primed for the meeting
- Share Positive Stories: A few people should share big wins in the office or their personal life such as birthdays, anniversaries, goals, etc.
- Scorecard or Datasheet: You should all review the company or department’s datasheet, which includes the high-level five to 15 KPIs for whether or not the company or department is tracking for a specific objective.
- Review Objectives: Everyone should review their Rocks to see if they are on track or off track to accomplishing them.
- Customer or Employee News: Everyone should share significant news from work or customers.
- Solve Issues: Identify the major weekly issues and underlying causes. Discuss the solution to those issues. Solve the issues and assign someone to be responsible.
- Conclusion: Recap the major aspects of the meeting, including public announcements and action items. End the session on time and make sure to tie up loose ends.