This is a comprehensive summary of the book Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman (part of the business book summaries collection). Covering the key ideas and proposing practical ways for achieving what’s mentioned in the text. Written by book fanatic and online librarian Ivaylo Durmonski. Supporting Members get full access.
The Book In Three Or More Sentences:
Feel like you’re losing control of your organization? Struggling to scale your business? Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business can help. Gino Wickman promises to turn your company into a well-oiled machine. The author introduces a systematic approach (called the Entrepreneurial Operating System®) that will prompt you to create a strong vision for your brand – along with other practical strategies – so you can successfully create a nurturing, well-focused, goal-oriented, and most importantly effective organization. Though the deep dive on corporate jargon makes this book tedious at times, the ideas inside Traction can certainly be useful for companies of all sizes.
The Core Idea:
It’s common for a business to become an all-consuming organism requiring constant care and attention while, sadly, slowly detaching from the original purpose. The more a company grows, the more unstructured it usually becomes. If you want to stay in business, you want solid foundations and clearly defined processes. Gino Wickman argues that the main goal for an owner should be to create well-defined guidelines for where the organization is heading. When everyone knows what are the goals, plus the steps that need to be executed, everyone in the team moves in the same direction.
- You will never reach the next level if you’re unwilling to take more risks and let go of your current beliefs.
- You don’t have to worry about 100 things to create and maintain a successful business. There are 6 major components that require your attention.
- Businesses are not exactly what they sound like. You should sell, yes, but you should also define how what you’re selling is helping others.
7 Key Lessons from Traction:
- Lesson #1: Let Go of The Vine and Embrace Change
- Lesson #2: Don’t Focus on 100 Things, Focus on The Six Key Components
- Lesson #3: Create a Clear Picture of Where Your Company is Headed
- Lesson #4: To Reach Your Goals Set Quarterly Rocks and Identify the Issues
- Lesson #5: Place The Right People in The Right Seats
- Lesson #6: Morph The Right Structure and Document Your Processes
- Lesson #7: Start Making Changes Before it Starts to Hurt
Lesson #1: Let Go of The Vine and Embrace Change
As the author explains in the book: “If you’re not happy with the current state of your company, you have three choices. You can live with it, leave it, or change it.”
Living with it means not making any attempts to improve the current situation. It’s a realization that is often tightly related to hopelessness – “I wish I could do something about it, but I can’t!” Usually weak, conservative leaders who are constantly complaining are part of this group.
The next option is leaving. Quite often, abandoning a sinking ship is a smart move. If you already tried a bunch of things, saying enough and moving on is far better than investing more resources.
Lastly, we have the option to make a change. If progress is slow or even stagnant, if we want to turn things around we obviously need to make changes in the way we do things. But here the author doesn’t simply mean getting new software to manage finances, for example. It’s about fundamentally changing how we think and how we run things.
And while change is the obvious move, people don’t do it as often as they should.
Well, change is scary. Especially if you’re in the industry for years, you have established flow of doing things, client-base, and gain a certain reputation. But most notably, change means admitting your mistakes and your inability to turn your business into a success. All things not a lot of hotheaded business people are willing to do. Yet again, whether you agree or disagree, change is the only way you can improve what you already have.
Even if things are sort of OK and if the sales numbers are “we can live with them”. Change is still the go-to strategy for every organization in the long run.
No matter what you do, if you keep doing the same things you’ll inevitably reach the ceiling. Therefore, innovating and altering the way you think are the natural next steps.
Regardless of your industry, stay open-minded and confess when you are unsure of whether what you’re doing is working. Your openness and vulnerability will help you find your weak spots. Therefore, help you progress.
“…growth is your only option. If you’re not growing, be it internally or externally, you’re dying. Most companies strive for external growth, but internal growth also leads to future greatness. In fact, most companies need to start with a focus on internal growth before they can even think about external growth.” Gino Wickman
Lesson #2: Don’t Focus on 100 Things, Focus on The Six Key Components
From the outside viewer, the way an organization operates looks quite seamless. However, inside, things are often chaotic. That is, of course, when people don’t have clear systems in place.
In Traction, Gino Wickman introduces his view of what a company should focus on – a framework called EOS® (Entrepreneurial Operating System®).
In simple terms, this is a framework that arranges the business-related processes – basically everything an organization needs to focus on – into 6 components. This segmentation reduces unnecessary complexity and gives the founder clarity on what needs to be done.
Here are the Six Key Components that form the EOS® framework:
Successful owners create a strong vision for their companies. But they don’t stop there. They make sure that everyone in the organization understands and follows the predefined path. It sounds easy on paper but it’s something that requires a lot of work and repetition – especially in the communication part. When people get what needs to be done and where everyone else is heading, you all get where you want quicker. Everyone is focusing his efforts on the right tasks and things are executed without delays.
You don’t simply need people. You need to find the right people for your organization. The author expands on this by adding, “the right people in the right seats.”
When organizations evolve, it’s common for them to put the recruiting process on auto mode. People enter, they work, but they rarely excel. Sometimes it’s because their skills are limited. Other times, though, because you’re placing them in positions that are not adequately modeled to stimulate their unique skill set.
Checking the pulse of your company happens when you monitor the right numbers. The author suggests creating a Scorecard. A weekly report-like spreadsheet containing up to 15 data components. These should tell you how your business is doing at a glance – sales, inquiries, revenue, etc.
Regularly reviewing your numbers can help you spot problems arising or such that are still lurking. Additionally, it will allow you to give clear instructions to people and also see when someone is not focusing on the right task.
Some call them goals, the author calls them Issues. These are basically the tasks you need to complete to make your vision a reality.
The most important component of this section is creating an organization where people speak up about the issues the company is facing. You would want people to share the issues so you can address them. The opposite of this will hugely hurt your progress. If people don’t feel safe about sharing a problem, everyone will bury, hide, disguise the problems they see to appear as things are OK. Naturally, this will lead to even more issues.
You might think that people know what to do, but this is often not the case. A well-defined list of processes is a must for a successful organization. Things might seem clear and well-defined in your head but this is not true for everyone.
Documenting the major processes in your company is the first step towards clarity. People have the right to know what exactly they should focus on – and why they should focus on these things. Once everything is written down, it will be a lot easier for everyone to execute based on the blueprint.
Setting a goal and going around the office to tell everyone how great your new idea sounds won’t add much to the implementation. You need traction. Processes that will bring your idea to life. As the author states, “Vision without traction is merely hallucination.”
Gaining traction and succeeding in your initiatives requires mainly two things: 1) Clear, well-defined tasks accomplishable within 90-days – called Rocks; 2) Regular meetings – called Meeting Pulse™. Keep in mind that the idea of these meetups is to keep everyone on track. Clear communication should encourage productivity, not waste time – what usually happens in meetings.
“In summary, successful businesses operate with a crystal clear vision that is shared by everyone. They have the right people in the right seats. They have a pulse on their operations by watching and managing a handful of numbers on a weekly basis. They identify and solve issues promptly in an open and honest environment. They document their processes and ensure that they are followed by everyone. They establish priorities for each employee and ensure that a high level of trust, communication, and accountability exists on each team.” Gino Wickman
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