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Get A Grip: An Entrepreneurial Fable
- “As Jim Collins said, ‘Magic occurs when you combine a spirit of entrepreneurialism with a culture of discipline,’” Alan explained. “Most of my clients believe that’s far easier said than done, so we take a very simple approach to systemizing your business. Even without a massive procedural manual, everything will quickly become easier to manage, more consistent, more scalable, more profitable, and more fun.”
- “My clients define Rocks as the three to seven most important things they have to get done in the next ninety days. When your business is running on this system, every person in the organization will have at least one Rock each quarter. In years of working with all kinds of entrepreneurial leadership teams from every conceivable industry, I’ve found that it’s human nature to get distracted about every ninety days. We all get sucked into the day-to-day, lose focus, or just get bored. Setting and achieving Rocks each quarter creates a ninety-day world for everyone in your organization.
- “Inside that ninety-day world, we’ll also help you create a healthy, productive Meeting Pulse with weekly ‘Level 10 Meetings.’ This means you will elevate the meetings you rated earlier at a four to a ten. Level 10 Meetings follow a set agenda with a specific psychology behind it that will help you communicate regularly and productively, stay focused on what’s important, and solve issues effectively throughout the quarter.”
- Systemizing works best when you keep it simple. That’s why we use the 20/80 Rule—documenting 20 percent of the high-level steps in a Core Process to get 80 percent of the results. If you’re trying to document 100 percent of the steps to get 100 percent compliance, that project is probably never going to be truly done.
- “When someone ‘gets it,’ their brain is innately hardwired in a way that matches the demands of the five roles in their seat,” Alan explained. “When someone ‘wants it,’ they genuinely spring out of bed every day—wanting to excel in their roles. And when someone has the ‘capacity to do it,’ they have acquired the intellectual and emotional maturity, education, training, and on-the-job experience to consistently perform well in the seat.
- “Now before you get started,” warned Alan, “setting and completing Rocks requires you to be good long-term predictors. You have to believe you can get each Rock done. These are not suggestions, and this isn’t a wish list. You’re predicting what needs to be done this quarter, and we’re counting on you to get it done.
- That’s where the weekly Level 10 Meeting comes in. By investing ninety minutes each week and following a very specific agenda, you’ll eliminate the need for a bunch of wasteful one-on-one communication. It prevents bottlenecks and train wrecks that happen when the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.” “I’m sorry,” interrupted Evan, “but did you say ninety minutes each week?” “Yes, Evan,” replied Alan. “I don’t want you to take this the wrong way,” replied Evan, “but we already spend way too much time in meetings!” “I get it,” replied Alan reassuringly. “In fact, many clients fight the weekly Level 10 Meetings at first. But they all come back to the second or third session having discovered just how valuable they are. So please give me a little blind faith, because I can promise you that the ninety minutes you invest each week will revolutionize the way you work together and save each of you at least twice that much wasted time on unproductive communication, lost opportunities, and crisis management each week.”
- “At precisely nine, the person running the meeting will start by asking for personal and professional good news. This will help you segue into the meeting like we did this morning. You’ll find that a few minutes focused on the human element each week will help increase team health. That should take no more than five minutes. The next three items on the agenda are reporting only. No discussions, no excuses, no solving. To make sure you’re hitting your numbers each week, you’ll first quickly report on your Scorecard, which we will create next. Here you simply describe each measurable as either on track or off track. There’s no need to discuss those items at this point in the meeting—we just drop any off-track numbers down to the Issues List. You’ll then take the same approach with Rocks, reviewing both company and individual Rocks and letting each leader say his or her Rocks are either on track or off track. Anything that’s off track simply drops down to the Issues List. The next item on the agenda is customer and employee headlines. This helps you keep tabs each week on whether your customers and employees are happy. Again we’re looking for headlines—no commentary. Any bad reports? Just drop them down to the Issues List. This approach helps us avoid getting bogged down before the meeting gets started, stuck in one of those exhausting reporting sessions where you’re spending an hour just sharing news, making excuses, and discussing the same things over and over.”
- “The next agenda item is your To-Do List. A To-Do is a seven-day action item that one of you agrees to get done before next week’s meeting. To-Dos will be baked right into your Level 10 Meeting agenda, a dynamic document with everything you need right at your fingertips. When you get to the To-Do List each week, you’ll go down the list asking each person with a To-Do whether it was To-Done.”
- “This discipline helps you get to the point at which 90 percent of the To-Dos are dropping off every week,” Alan continued. “It creates accountability and helps everyone get more done. From there, we go to the real magic of what makes meetings great—solving issues. Setting ’em up, knocking ’em down, and really making them go away forever. When you master the weekly Level 10 Meeting, you’ll spend two-thirds of your meeting each week solving problems with IDS. You’ll recall from our Ninety-Minute Meeting that most leadership teams spend all their time discussing the heck out of their issues.
- Alan then walked the team through IDS. He carefully explained how to begin each week by prioritizing the three most important issues on the list and then jumping right in to IDS for the first one. Next he reminded the team how to identify the root cause of the issue, discuss it briefly (with everyone saying what needs to be said only once, because more than once is politicking), and solve the issue by agreeing on a plan to make it go away forever.