Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business, Gino Wickman, (Dallas, BenBella Books, 2012).
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In Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business, author Gino Wickman enables business leaders who want to grow their business with the system and tools for doing so. He succinctly sums up the components in the following:
“In summary, successful businesses operate with a crystal clear vision that is shared by everyone. They have the right people in the right seats. They have a pulse on their operations by watching and managing a handful of numbers on a weekly basis. They identify and solve issues promptly in an open and honest environment. They document their processes and ensure that they are followed by everyone. They establish priorities for each employee and ensure that a high level of trust, communication, and accountability exists on each team.”
The system enables a leader to take the vital signs of their business to understand if it is healthy or not. It also provides clarity for employees on what they need to do, when they need to do it, and how what they are doing contributes to the overarching vision. Most importantly, it gives employees a sense of purpose and how they fit within the organization.
Leaders who recognize that they want their business to evolve recognize that they must change. Wickman walks through the beliefs that a leader must embrace when preparing for change. Additionally, he outlines the six components of a business that must be strengthened in order for a business to evolve and thrive.
Key idea #1 – The Entrepreneurial Operating System® EOS
Wickman describes the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS) as what to do, when to do it, and in a specific order, in order for good things to happen to the business. The book pairs with a series of in-life tools, such as forms, coaches, and networking opportunities, to help grow businesses.
Key idea #2 – 4 Fundamental beliefs for letting go
According to Wickman, for a business to change, business leaders must embrace the following beliefs:
Foster and maintain true leadership team –The senior leaders of the team along with the business owner are responsible for developing and embodying the company’s vision. Additionally, the roles and responsibilities of each leader must be clear and the team must be capable of rallying together as a united front.
Hitting the ceiling is inevitable – All businesses will reach the maximum point of the current state of the organization. From here, leaders be able to do one of the following: simplify the organization, delegate and elevate, predict both short-term and long-term, systemize, and or restructure the company.
Your business can only run one operating system – Organizations can only have one system for setting their priorities and vision.
You must be open-minded, growth-oriented, and vulnerable – the only way that the EOS works is if leaders adopt a persona of curiosity. Anything less will make the effort futile.
Key idea #3 – The 6 components of a business
There are six components that make up a business. By strengthening these components, businesses can go from being 30-35% effective to be in the top 5 percent. The components are as follows:
Vision – what the organization is trying to achieve. When all employees focus on the same thing, they are more likely to thrive.
Process – this component is made up of the marketing, sales, operations, and accounting activities that flow through the business. Documenting these and having everyone understand what is core to the business is essential for a high-performing business.
Data – to cut through the noise, leaders need only a handful of metrics to understand the pulse of the business.
People – businesses that thrive have the right people in the right place. This means having individuals doing what they’re good at and what they are passionate about.
Issues – this component speaks to the organization’s ability to track and resolve problems quickly.
Traction – the last component brings discipline and accountability to the organization and what they are doing.
Key idea #4 – 8 questions for narrowing down the vision
There are eight questions that can be used to help the leadership team narrow down their vision. These questions include:
- What are the core values?
- What is the core focus?
- What is the 10-year target?
- What is the marketing strategy?
- What does this business look like in three years?
- What do we want to accomplish in the next year?
- What are quarterly rocks?
- What are the current issues?
When the leadership team can answer all eight questions and agree on the answers, the company vision is then defined.
Key idea #5 – Right people in the right place
The right people are those who share the businesses’ vision and core values. They thrive in the culture and environment that the organization holds. Wickman introduces the People Analyzer. The belief is that Core Values + People Analyzer = Right People. What this brings is the right person in the right seat.
When there is someone who is great at their role but does not share the same values, then they are the wrong person in the right seat. Unfortunately, no matter how much you like the person they are actually destroying your business.
Key idea #6 – Traction
With the traction component, managers use a regularly scheduled meeting to ensure that everyone is communicating. This can be a weekly meeting for senior leadership that lasts 90 minutes. It is on the same day and time every week and has the same agenda. It is also imperative that the meeting starts on time and ends on time. By having these meetings, leadership can track how they are making progress on their rocks.
Key idea #7 – Rocks
Wickman describes rocks as the goals, priorities, and objectives of an individual. The book proposes that executive leadership defines their rocks for the next 90 days. This means identifying what needs to be accomplished over the next quarter. The rocks are then prioritized and assigned due dates and owners. We then roll all the rocks up onto a Rock Sheet. This creates clear responsibilities for each department leader.
From there work with their managers to set their rocks, who will then work with their team members to set theirs. What this does is provide every employee clarity on what they are responsible for and how their work contributes to the overarching vision.
Traction Key takeaways
- Every business is made up of six components: vision, data, people, process, issues, and traction.
- Strengthening all six components of the business will enable it to thrive.
- Systems provide employees with clarity on what they are trying to achieve, what they are responsible for, and how they contribute to the organization.
Gino Wickman is an American entrepreneur and founder of the Entrepreneurial Operating System®. He started his first business at 21, laying the foundation for him to take over a family business. Wickman shares his insights and learnings in EOS with budding and seasoned entrepreneurs.