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Traction: Get a grip on your business


This book, by Gino Wickman describes a methodology called Entrepeneur Operating System (EOS) for running and growing successful businesses. Below I offer a summary of the points that I found interesting in the hope that it can help someone else. Of course these are only my own notes, and if you read the book yourself your opinion on what are interesting points may differ.

Only 6 components to worry about:

Entrepreneurs have to worry about seemingly millions of things. But when it comes down to it, these can be categorised in 6 different components:

  • vision

  • data

  • process

  • traction

  • values

  • Vision tracker Organiser (VTO)

Targets:

In order to grow a business, you first and foremost need a vision. But following on the vision, you also need measurable targets.

Targets are crucial to running a successful business.

- What is your 10 year target?

- What is your 3 years target?

- What is your 1 year target? Have a 3 years objective and a one year plan. This can be a number of stores, number of customers, revenue or something else but it must be agreed and clear to the leadership team. This will allow you to pull in one direction together. This should be a number not a range.

On team quality:

This is a topic that I take particularly to heart. My own experience shows me that the best people, certainly in engineering, can outperform average engineers by a factor or 10. Therefore, to create a successful business you can only afford having A players in your team.

But sometimes thing do not go smoothly and you may end up in one of these situations:

- Wrong person in the right seat: This person excels at what she does, but doesn't share your core values. Killing your organisation from the inside. It's the little things that chip away at your company little by little. - Right person in the wrong seat: This person shares your core values but is not in the best seat. Either she got promoted too quickly, or she got out in the wrong seat. Your job is to move this person to the right seat. If no such seat is available, you will have to let them go. - Wrong person wrong seat:

You need to let that person go, no exception. As a CEO or manager, your job is to hire, fire, review and reward all of your people around core values and unique abilities.

To help you in this task, you can use the People analyser:

Put a + whenever somebody exhibits the value, and a - when she doesn't.

Each employee should have a minimum of 3 pluses, a maximum of 2+-, and never a minus. Anyone not fitting must change or go.

GWC:

Make sure that each position is filled by people who "get it", "want it" and "have the Capacity to do it". If the employee lacks any of these, you must prepare to let them go.

Organisation chart:

We are all familiar with the notion of organisation chart. It essentially describes who reports to whom in a company.

However, this is not optimal to describe how things really work in a business.

To avoid balls dropping, consider replacing your organisation chart by an accountability chart, highlighting clearly what each person in the organisation is responsible for.

On focus:

90 days is about as long as human beings can stay focused. Organise quarterly meetings to bring people back on the same page. This cycle is normal, it is human nature. "If you don't continue to align quarterly, your organisation will fragment to the point that you will get far off track or start to lose great people. You will lose sight of your vision and you will end up right back where you started - in chaos".

If you wish to know more about my thoughts on this particular topic, I invite you to read my blog post on roadmaps and QBOs.

Conclusion:

Overall this is a good book that gives you a blueprint of how to run a startup. I did find it a little too heavy on specifics though. The author teaches you his own method for running a startup and goes into a lot of details about each specific item to put on a checklist, on a weekly meeting, quarterly meeting etc. Meanwhile, I find it lacking in more high-level thinking. At times, I found that it does read a little bit like a sales pitch of a magical method where buzzwords are repeated at every other sentence. Nevertheless, the book makes some interesting points and is overall a good book. I would give it a 6.5/10.

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