Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business

Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business
BY : GINO WICKMAN

All entrepreneurs and business leaders face similar frustrations: personnel conflict, profit woes, and inadequate growth. Decisions never seem to get made, or once made, fail to be properly implemented. But there is a solution. It's not complicated or theoretical.

  • How would you rate the accountability throughout your organization on a scale of 1 to 10? Most new clients that start The EOS Process rate their accountability somewhere around 4. Gaining traction requires two disciplines. First, everyone in the organization should have Rocks, which are clear 90-day priorities designed to keep them focused on what is most important. The second discipline requires implementing what is called a Meeting Pulse at all levels in the organization, which will keep everyone focused, aligned, and in communication.
  • 1. You must build and maintain a true leadership team.       
    2. Hitting the ceiling is inevitable.       
    3. You can only run your business on one operating system.      
    4. You must be open-minded, growth-oriented, and vulnerable.
  • The next leap of faith you have to take is this: As goes the leadership team, so goes the company. Your leadership team must present a united front to the rest of your organization. In a nuclear family, when the child doesn’t like the answer from Mom, he or she might go to Dad. In your company, there can be only one answer, and your leadership team needs to parent everyone to greatness.
  • In fact, most companies need to start with a focus on internal growth before they can even think about external growth. The paradox is that they will actually grow faster externally in the long run if they are focused internally from the outset.
  • On its official website, the U.S. Small Business Administration purports that “roughly 50 percent of small businesses fail within the first five years.” In a study published by the Monthly Labor Review in 2005, economist Amy E. Knaup states that 56 percent of businesses die within the first four years. And in his book The E-Myth and The E-Myth Revisited, author Michael Gerber paints an even scarier picture, saying that 80 percent of businesses fail in their first five years and 80 percent of those remaining will fail somewhere between years six through ten.
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    “Simplify, simplify.” Henry David Thoreau      
    “One ‘simplify’ would have sufficed.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • As leaders, you’ll need to stop working in the business 100 percent of the time, and as Michael Gerber, author of The E-Myth and The E-Myth Revisited, puts it, work on the business every so often instead. This discipline will get you to where you want to go faster.
  • Hard experience taught me the value of this belief. After one particularly unsuccessful engagement, I reflected back on why The EOS Process did not work. It came down to a simple truth: The members of the leadership team weren’t growth-oriented, either internally or externally, nor were they willing to be vulnerable or open-minded. We accomplished very little because it was a constant battle to make decisions and discuss difficult issues.
  • In summary, the four fundamental beliefs are as follows:       
    1. You must build and maintain a true leadership team.       
    2. Hitting the ceiling is inevitable.       
    3. You can only run your business on one operating system.       
    4. You must be open-minded, growth-oriented, and vulnerable.
  • In The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni credits a friend who built an organization from a start-up to a billion dollars in revenue with the following observation: “If you could get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time.”
  • The first tool in EOS is the Vision/Traction Organizer (V/TO). Not only is the V/TO designed to get your vision out of your head and onto paper, it will help you answer these eight questions. It’s meant to help you create a clear picture of where the company is going and how it will get there. Most importantly, it does so simply, by boiling your vision down to only two pages. An example of a V/TO appears on the next page and an electronic version of the V/TO can be downloaded free at www.eosworldwide.com/vto

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