Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business, by Gino Wickman
Solving the tough issues and actually holding worthwhile meetings. As a business owner and entrepreneur myself, Traction´s discussion of the “Ten Commandments of Issue-Solving” and how to hold “Level 10 Meetings” have been game-changers for me and they will be for your business as well. Let’s get into it.
The Value-Add to Your Business
Traction is replete with guidance for entrepreneurs and business owners about ways to improve our businesses. Defining your vision, getting the right people in the right seats, determining and then tracking the data points most critical to your business, setting up processes that enable your team to deliver on your promises to customers consistently and how to bring focus and discipline to your business to sustain long-term success, it is all there. I also loved the discussion of this Traction quote “Get it. Want it. Capacity to do it.” for all personnel decisions. Simple. Straightforward. On point. No question, you are going to take something away from Traction that will make it worth your investment.
I am going to approach my review and summary of Traction from a somewhat biased perspective. I loved this book most for its discussion of how businesses can most effectively resolve issues and how they can hold more productive, focused meetings. My businesses admittedly needed upgrades in those key areas. After reading Traction, I am much better equipped to implement and have implemented the book´s recommendations. Every entrepreneur that I know, irrespective of the size of their business, could benefit from improving in these two areas as well. Here is what I learned:
The Ten Commandments of Issue-Solving
- Consensus management does not work. Let people be heard, accept the majority decision and present a united front. There is no need for unanimity before taking action.
- Don´t be a wuss. Be willing to have the hard conversations that your business requires. One quote I love from Tim Ferriss, the Author of The 4-Hour Workweek and Tribe of Mentors, is “Hard conversations, easy life. Easy conversations, hard life.” See the note later about enduring some short-term pain to avoid long-term suffering.
- Be decisive. The power of decision.
- Don’t rely on second hand information. Get all necessary parties present so that you are getting information directly from the most appropriate source. Hearsay can be a dangerous game to play.
- Fight for the greater good. Issues, even uncomfortable ones involving people that you care about, must be resolved through the prism of asking what would be best for the greater good of the company. What is best for the whole is always of paramount importance.
- Do not try to solve them all at once. Determine with your leadership team which issues are most important to you right now and start from the top of the list. Traction teaches us to chop away at each domino until it falls then move onto the next.
- Live with it, end it, change it. When faced with an issue, you really only have three options. These three options are to live with it, end the situation or change it.
- Choose short-term pain over long-term suffering. Issue-solving often involves hard decisions about people you care about. Terminations, employee issues, and all the other battles that we face as business owners that can be painful in the short-term should not be avoided. Do now what will be painful in the short-term to avoid the long-term suffering that your business will endure if you are not proactive.
- The issue that you fear most is the one that most needs to be resolved.
- Take a shot and propose solutions. Be a problem-solver. Do not let issues linger. At the risk of being wrong, Traction teaches us to always be someone who proposes solutions.
How to Actually Run a Leadership Team Meeting
A popular topic among entrepreneurs these days is whether we are overdoing it when it comes to having and holding meetings. Traction makes the case effectively that meetings themselves are not the problem. Rather, the problem is that we are not using them purposefully and strategically. When it comes to the meetings that we should be having with our leadership teams and key leaders, Traction tells us exactly what meetings we should be having and what the agendas for those meetings should be. This part of the book is going to be a major boost to your business.
I have adopted the following suggestions from Traction for my own businesses. I now meet with my leadership team, without fail, annually, quarterly and weekly each Monday. Our agendas mirror those from Traction. Here is what they look like at a high-level:
What they should look like: Big view for the year. Review previous year´s most important goals and financial measures. Review core values and your consistency with those core values throughout your business. Document the big issues you resolved and those you need to resolve in the coming year. Review your three-year outlook and modify it as needed. Set your three to seven most important goals for the year and start the process of executing. Less is more.
What they should look like: Create a 90-day world for the company with your leadership team. Review the prior quarter and discuss which of your biggest goals for that quarter that you achieved, those you did not and why. Discuss key issues. Set the most critical one to three goals for the coming quarter.
What they should look like: Agenda should include: segway (share good news), scorecard review (review 5-15 most important numbers in the organization), big goals review (both company and individual goals of leadership team members), customer/employee headlines (good or bad, short and sweet), to-do list (review for all persons; 90% should drop off each week), issues list (numbers and goals that are not being hit and adjust to-do list to hit them; review top 5 biggest issues). Conclude to re-cap each person´s to-dos and any communications that need to be made to the organization.
Other Business Lessons and Traction Quotes That You´ll Love
Get it. Want it. Capacity to do it. The three criteria you must use to hire, fire, review and promote everyone in your company.
“If I had more time I would have written a shorter letter.” On the importance of brevity and clarity when communicating your message to your team.
“What gets measured gets done.” On keeping a scoreboard to evaluate weekly the key metrics impacting your business.
“Make all decisions as if you were going to the Super Bowl.” How to make decisions on all matters in your business by asking what would champions do?
“Do less, accomplish more.”
“Thinking is the hardest work there is. That is probably why so few people do it.” (quoting Henry Ford)
“Millionaires decide quickly then are slow to change. It is not what you decide, but that you decide. More is lost by indecision than wrong decision.”
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If you like today´s recommendation of Traction, you might like this one even more: The book that started it all in the space of how to put your business on cruise control with the famous advice to “work on your business, not in your business,” Michael Gerber´s awesome book The E-Myth Revisited. Check it out!