Stop the backsliding: Traction by Gino Wickman

Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman is all about taking ownership of your business, figuring out where you need to change, and then using and implementing that knowledge to elevate your company to the next level.

The core idea of the book is what Wickman calls the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS). The EOS is a model for dividing business into six different core components so that you can understand and manage your company systematically. These six components Vision, People, Data, Issues, Processes, Traction. The order in which they are listed and explained in the book, also gives the right trajectory for your business.

It starts with vision. Define your company’s vision is essential not just for ventures that aspire to change the world, but for any business that wants to tighten up and focus in on what really matters. Wickman recommends working with your leadership to come up with 3-7 core values to guide your company’s ethic and philosophy.

Simple, strong, and clearly define core values can be easily communicated to your team so that everyone is on the same page as to the company’s highest priorities. This is core focus, and it has very practical benefits. Focus can keep you from verging off into superfluous and risky ventures. It also helps you define and execute your yearly, quarterly, and weekly goals.

The second component of EOS is People. To get the most out of your employees, you need to make sure they are the right people for their role as well as right for your company as a whole. The book provides a number of useful charts and ways to track and analyze how your employees embody the different core values.

From there, Wickman moves on to Data, Issues, and Processes. These all work in tandem and Wickman’s insights are solid, if not revolutionary. For keeping track of employee performance, he advocates the use of scorecards for each employee showing how they are doing on their KPIs. Work out with team leaders what your KPIs should be as well as your benchmark goals. Then use regular accountability meetings to keep everything in check. This data-driven approach allows you to easily detect issues as they arise and work to resolve them swiftly.

Data also feeds into the fifth component of EOS, Processes. Wickman likens these to your vital organs, the seven or so departments in your company that keep everything running smoothly, such as marketing, operations, and human resources. Here again, everyones role and objectives should be clearly delineated and communicated. Each process should be conceptualized as part of a greater whole to keep people from doing their own thing and slowing your company down.

The final, eponymous, component of EOS is Traction. This idea is a model for setting achievable goals. Every quarter, you should meet with team leaders to come up with around 10-20 goals. Then you work with them to bring this number down to a few “rocks.” These are singular goals that you can assign to each team member to handle personally. This helps eliminate the diffusion of responsibility. Like with everything else in EOS, you need to subject your company’s rocks to rigorous and regular review.

Traction provides a solid model for taking your business to the next level. Where the EOS shines is in how systematic and data-driven it is. If implemented, it really allows you to get a good idea of where your company is at and what needs to change. And while the major emphasis on accomplishable goals and regular accountability is a bit cliched, it is cliched for a reason. These ideas really work.

Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman is available for purchase here.

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