An M3 Weekly Book Review

Almost half of would-be entrepreneurs say that they would be more likely to start businesses if they had better access to and a better understanding of the business tools they need to run the operations of the business.

Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman provides an accessible solution to this widely felt need, giving leaders of small and medium-sized businesses a combination of tools (what Wickman calls the “Entrepreneurial Operating System”) for structuring their businesses.

Traction divides the operation of the business into six key components. They are:

  1. Vision – the entire realm of Purpose, Vision, and Values, as well as key goals and strategy. It also includes ensuring that the people in the organization clearly know and understand the vision.
  2. People – making sure that every person in the organization is both a good cultural fit for the company and in the right particular role within the company.
  3. Data – a handful of numbers that serve as “leading indicators” of business success and are tracked weekly. Wickman also insists that each person in the organization has a number for which that employee is accountable.
  4. Issues – an approach to collecting, prioritizing, and solving the key issues that are facing the organization.
  5. Process – documenting the 3-7 core processes of the business (the 20% of processes that lead to 80% of the productivity), and making sure these processes are followed by everyone in the organization.
  6. Traction – achieving consistent progress through priorities (“Rocks”) for each quarter, as well as a meeting pulse with consistent, effective agendas for each meeting.

A key strength of Traction is the simple and comprehensive set of tools in one place, connected in an integrated system. For each of the six components of the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) described above, several worksheet-type tools are provided.

Wickman describes companies with 10-250 employees as the “sweet spot” for Traction, and companies of this size may find the EOS to be exactly what they need. On the other hand, this toolset is likely to be too much for start-ups and not enough or too confining for larger companies.

Finally, Wickman strongly encourages those who use EOS to stick precisely to the system, and some enterprise leaders will prefer an approach that is more open. Check out this article for a comparison of EOS to the “Rockefeller Habits” described in Scaling Up by Verne Harnish. The author describes Scaling Up as an “Open-System Architecture,” in contrast to the “Closed-System Architecture” approach of Wickman. Entrepreneurial leaders may want to explore these and other systems in greater detail before choosing the best approach for their companies.

To see Wickman give a brief introduction to the EOS and explain how he came up with it, check out the video (about 7 minutes) below.

Verse(s) of the Week:

Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. Daniel 6:3

By God’s grace and indwelling Spirit, let’s follow the biblical example of Daniel and commit ourselves to work with increasing operational excellence.

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