Get a Grip
Get a Grip

Get a Grip

“There’s an operations function,” he said, placing an “O” in the center rectangle, “in which you make the product or provide the service.” (Location 700)

Sometimes the sales and marketing function splits into two seats. (Location 704)

Simply put, the integrator is the glue—the person who harmoniously integrates the major functions of the business, who runs the day-to-day. (Location 707)

Visionaries are great at relationships and at creating and preserving a good culture. They’re creative, strategic thinkers and builders.” (Location 712)

“The first occurs when a visionary is trying to run the company. You can’t have a visionary in the integrator seat because what you’ll get are these wonderful ninety-day spikes where everybody’s excited about a new idea or direction, (Location 717)

In the world of the Accountability Chart, only one person can ultimately be accountable for a major function. Because when you have two people accountable, nobody is accountable.” (Location 720)

The third Key Component is Data. To be 100 percent strong in the Data Component you need two things: Scorecards and measurables for everyone in the organization.” (Location 738)

Next, Alan introduced a simple tool called “IDS” that would help those teams make their issues go away forever. (Location 756)

We take the time to get every member of the team’s support for and commitment to that plan before moving on. (Location 767)

Evan listened carefully as he walked them through an approach for documenting the company’s handful of “Core Processes” at a high level and then getting those steps “followed by all.” (Location 770)

‘Magic occurs when you combine a spirit of entrepreneurialism with a culture of discipline,’” (Location 773)

so we take a very simple approach to systemizing your business. (Location 774)

Encouraged but skeptical, the VP of ops concluded things were never as simple as they seemed. (Location 776)

Alan then introduced two tools—“Rocks” and an efficient, productive “Meeting Pulse”—that his clients used to strengthen the Traction Component. He added those terms to the board under “TRACTION.” (Location 780)

“My clients define Rocks as the three to seven most important things they have to get done in the next ninety days. (Location 784)

Setting and achieving Rocks each quarter creates a ninety-day world for everyone in your organization. You come together, see how you did last quarter, recheck the vision, and then set new priorities for the next ninety days. This keeps everyone laser focused. Everyone owns a piece of the vision and is working together to achieve it. We come up for air every ninety days and repeat that same pulse forever. (Location 787)

“The first step in the process is this Ninety-Minute Meeting,” he said while drawing on the whiteboard. “If you believe I can help Swan Services, we simply schedule the next step—a full-day off-site session with the leadership team called the ‘Focus Day®.’ (Location 801)

“If you like what happens in the Focus Day and want to continue,” Alan explained, “we’ll schedule two Vision-Building Sessions about thirty and sixty days after the Focus Day. (Location 806)

continue. “So, after three sessions and about sixty days,” he said, “you’ll all be 100 percent on the same page with where you’re going and exactly how you plan to get there. (Location 811)

From there, we’ll meet every ninety days. I’ll conduct your Quarterlies and Annuals for as long as you need me. (Location 813)

“Ultimately, you and your team will understand and have implemented every tool in my toolbox. Your business will be running on this system. (Location 818)

My job is to get you there quickly—and then get out of your way and let you run your business using this system and these tools. That defines success for me.” (Location 820)

And I love the fact that this system is something we can master and use to run our company rather than turning over control to some consultant.” (Location 835)

“Welcome back,” he began with a smile. “I’d like to start your Focus Day with a quick reminder of where we’re going and how we’re going to get there.” (Location 873)

When I asked for your role, I was looking for a little more than your title. Can you help me understand what a VP of ops does at Swan Services?” (Location 887)

Alan went on to explain that hitting the ceiling is inevitable and often necessary before an organization can advance to the next level. He challenged the team to rise to those occasions and help the company break through those ceilings by mastering five leadership abilities. (Location 921)

learn is designed to help you simplify,” he explained. “And throughout our journey together, you’ll hear me say ‘less is more’ quite often.” (Location 928)

all leaders must learn to build extensions of themselves—to truly “let go” and stop trying to do everything themselves—for growing organizations to break through the ceiling. (Location 930)

“So you can spend far more time doing those things you love to do and are best at. It’s where you’ll all be happiest and where you’ll each be able to add the most value to the organization. (Location 933)

short-term predicting as the ability to effectively solve daily and weekly issues. (Location 939)

you’re getting hit with five or six issues every single day,” said Alan. “You have to get better at predicting which of those issues needs to be tackled right away and then predicting the right solution that solves them forever. (Location 941)

“Every company has an HR process, a marketing process, a sales process, two or three operations processes, an accounting process, and a customer service or customer retention process. (Location 950)

“I said simple. Systemizing works best when you keep it simple. That’s why we use the 20/80 Rule—documenting 20 percent of the high-level steps in a Core Process to get 80 percent of the results. (Location 956)

that project is probably never going to be truly done. (Location 958)

“The Accountability Chart will help you create the right structure to get you to the next level. It creates simplicity and absolute clarity, crystallizing the roles and responsibilities in your organization. (Location 961)

“You can’t have two people accountable for a single major function,” he explained, “because when two people are accountable, nobody is accountable. (Location 971)

Remember, we’re going to customize your Accountability Chart in two ways. First, we have to determine whether you have three or more major functions on your leadership team. (Location 984)

company. A rule of thumb with the Accountability Chart is to think about the next six to twelve months. (Location 1001)

“Every great organization has an integrator,” he went on. “Someone to run the day-to-day, to lead and manage the leadership team. I take it from your earlier comments that there may also be a visionary in this organization?” (Location 1070)

“LMA stands for ‘leadership, management, and accountability,’” he explained. (Location 1083)

When we resume, let’s stay focused on the way we want the operations function to be structured going forward. No people, no history, and no egos.” (Location 1119)

Evan stopped expressing his views after the break. Alan recognized this shift and tried to get Evan to challenge another team member’s assumptions or suggest an alternative, to no avail. (Location 1122)

We’re going to take these seats one at a time, starting with the four major functions—marketing, sales, operations, and finance. Are there any clear-cut owners of those seats?” (Location 1169)

“It seems like you agree that Art’s the best person for the marketing seat, but there’s an issue.” (Location 1239)

“She GWCs the role, and I have to work hard to stay the heck out of the seat so she can really own it.” (Location 1264)

He explained that a seat on the leadership team was too important to leave open. Once again, Alan asked the team to suggest the best right person for the ops seat. (Location 1305)

“She’s the best person for the job, but her name ought to be on the Issues List. I don’t think she likes LMA any better than I do.” (Location 1343)

a complete build-out of each department, with functions, roles, and names entered for each seat, combined into a one-page, organization-wide Accountability Chart before the team’s next session. (Location 1351)

You don’t have billions of kilowatts—you have only a few. If you can get every ounce of that energy focused in a single direction, you truly can accomplish amazing things. (Location 1359)

the urgent is the enemy of the important. Leaders get sucked into the day-to-day, distracted by daily tasks and countless interruptions. (Location 1362)

We’re going to whittle that giant list of priorities down to three to seven lead dominoes—the stuff that matters most this quarter. (Location 1366)

We’ll create a ninety-day world for you, and ultimately for everyone in the company, because it’s human nature that we all lose focus and begin to fray about every ninety days. (Location 1369)

“Not to worry,” Alan reassured the group. “My record for a Focus Day is seventy-two issues that filled two complete whiteboards. This is nothing! (Location 1379)

•    Keep it— (Location 1384)

•    Kill it— (Location 1386)

•    Combine it— (Location 1387)

he left on the list any potential Rock that even a single member of the team wanted to Keep. (Location 1390)

None of these issues are going away—we’re just trying to agree on the three to seven top priorities for the organization this quarter.” (Location 1393)

“I hear what you’re saying,” Alan said. “But in all my work with entrepreneurial companies, I’ve found that consensus management does not work. It’ll put you out of business faster than anything else. (Location 1416)

If the team can’t agree, the integrator makes the final call.” (Location 1418)

Alan illustrated how to clearly define the Rocks by making them “SMART—specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.” (Location 1430)

He explained that, just like with a seat on the Accountability Chart, only one person could be accountable for a Rock. (Location 1432)

“If we can get those five things done, it’ll be our most productive quarter in a long time—maybe ever. And for once I think we can actually do it!” (Location 1439)

“Less is more,” he reminded the team, “but including the company Rocks you own, each of you can leave here with up to seven Rocks. (Location 1443)

“Now before you get started,” warned Alan, “setting and completing Rocks requires you to be good long-term predictors. (Location 1447)

So if you have time to complete one or more of the items on this list, please write down each of them as a SMART individual Rock. (Location 1449)

“Entrepreneurial leaders typically hate meetings,” Alan resumed, pointing to the words “Meeting Pulse” on the whiteboard, “because most meetings are just awful. (Location 1458)

At best, lots of stuff gets discussed but very little is accomplished. (Location 1461)

and is focused on solving problems rather than just talking about them. Would you dread that meeting?” (Location 1463)

“The first part is the ninety-day world I described earlier,” Alan explained. “For as long as you’re working with me, I’ll be responsible for helping you with your ninety-day world by running your Annual Planning Sessions and your Quarterlies. (Location 1466)

Because you can’t stay properly connected to the business—and to one another—without meeting more regularly than every three months. (Location 1469)

prevents bottlenecks and train wrecks that happen when the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.” (Location 1471)

“In fact, many clients fight the weekly Level 10 Meetings at first. (Location 1476)

List. A To-Do is a seven-day action item that one of you agrees to get done before next week’s meeting. To-Dos will be baked right into your Level 10 Meeting agenda, a dynamic document with everything you need right at your fingertips. When you get to the To-Do List each week, you’ll go down the list asking each person with a To-Do whether it was To-Done.” (Location 1500)

(with everyone saying what needs to be said only once, because more than once is politicking), (Location 1511)

you conclude by doing three simple things. You first recap your To-Dos. Next is cascading messages. Did something happen in the meeting that needs to be shared with others? (Location 1518)

Finally, you end by rating the meeting from one to ten, with ten being best. (Location 1520)

Eileen was selected to run the meetings. Sue volunteered to complete the paperwork. (Location 1529)

Sue readily agreed to prepare and bring to each meeting printed copies of the Level 10 Meeting agenda (with updated To-Do and Issues Lists), the Rock Sheet, and the Scorecard. (Location 1530)

There are only two good reasons to miss a Level 10 Meeting—vacation and death. Your death.” (Location 1534)

“So imagine yourself on an island,” he said. “A server brings you a frosty beverage and a sheet of paper that contains five to fifteen numbers. (Location 1541)

Remember: we’re looking for leading indicators that can be measured on a weekly basis.” (Location 1547)

“Alan,” Vic said. “I’m struggling to find leading indicators. Most of the stuff up there is a trailing number—like weekly revenues. I thought we weren’t supposed to measure stuff like that.” (Location 1559)

but if you and the rest of the team believe that weekly revenues is one of the numbers that gives you an absolute pulse on the business, it belongs on your Scorecard. (Location 1562)

“All of my clients review both a weekly Scorecard and monthly or quarterly financial statements,” he said, which seemed to placate Carol. (Location 1592)

Some wanted to measure everything and to make each measurable as complex as possible. Others seemed intent on measuring very little, insisting that only numbers that were easy to measure and 100 percent accurate could be meaningful and useful. (Location 1593)

Scorecard. He was particularly opposed to measuring late projects, dismissing that as a complex and subjective measurable. (Location 1597)

He helped Carol understand that she and her collections person were probably the most likely people to “fix” the number if it veered off track, so she reluctantly agreed to accept accountability for the number. (Location 1631)

There’s nothing new here, and frankly I don’t understand why we can’t do this ourselves.” (Location 1672)

Frankly I’m feeling a little sheepish because if I’d have been running this meeting, we’d have accomplished nothing and killed one another before lunch!” (Location 1676)

In this journey, mastery means two specific things—that you understand the tool and that you’ve implemented the tool in your organization. The second and third objectives are to walk out of here in about thirty days—after day two—with a crystal-clear vision and a clear plan to achieve that vision. (Location 1702)

Until the sales team and others clearly recognize our new structure—with Vic as visionary and me leading sales—it’ll be more difficult for Vic to let go and for me to step up into my role.” (Location 1724)

few leaders agreed with Sue on IDS, and two others mentioned the incomplete Scorecard as not quite working. (Location 1727)

His check-in was abrupt and apologetic. He struggled to come up with good news and had a long list of things that didn’t seem to be working. (Location 1729)

I just can’t seem to find the time to keep our projects on track, manage my team, and do all this homework. (Location 1732)

“What you’re experiencing is normal at this stage of the process. Don’t get me wrong—we do need you to regain control, keep your Rocks on track, and complete your To-Dos. (Location 1734)

mastering five leadership abilities: simplify, delegate, predict, systemize, and structure. (Location 1742)

Vic and Sue explained their logic and again assured Art that their conclusion was structure-driven and not based on concerns about him as a leader. (Location 1769)

That’s when it hit her. This is what I do best and love most—I decide. (Location 1782)

So I’m suggesting that inserting mid-level managers accountable for leading the account management, project management, business analysis, and development teams makes more sense than the flat structure that we have now.” (Location 1798)

Evan racked his brain, searching for a good reason to defend his own approach. (Location 1805)

She’d been worried about stepping on his toes when she built out his department, but he was unable to think strategically and contemplate change. (Location 1808)

“Evan, we’ve reached an impasse,” he explained. “In your department there are three right seats for which there appear to be no right people. So until you fill those seats with someone else, you own them. (Location 1835)

This is how the Issues List works. If somebody on the team has a people issue, we get it on the list. (Location 1844)

“I actually circled Troy and Natalie as well, for the same reason. I’m not saying they should be canned tomorrow or anything, but if they really did GWC the seat, they’d be hitting their quotas more regularly.” (Location 1848)

but Alan reminded them that issues cannot be solved until they are smoked out. He promised to introduce soon the process for resolving them. (Location 1853)

Alan went on to explain that leaders who work beyond their capacity can only endure for about six months before they burn out, leave, or begin consistently underperforming. (Location 1860)

“So Evan, Carol,” Alan continued, “when you don’t have enough time to do your job well, you need a plan to make that issue go away forever. What do you need to do to make that happen?” (Location 1866)

Alan quickly mentioned the “Delegate and Elevate” tool, a simple way for leaders to figure out exactly what they should delegate and what they should continue doing themselves. (Location 1876)

“You’re on track to complete seventeen of twenty-five Rocks—just under 70 percent, which isn’t far from the completion rate goal of 80 percent. (Location 1908)

“What do we do when someone wants to explain something about their own Rock or ask a question about someone else’s?” Eileen asked. (Location 1914)

And remember, any off-track Scorecard numbers automatically go to the Issues List as well. Does that make sense?” (Location 1918)

“When you ‘drop it down’ and use the Issues List, you’ll spend time on only the issues that are most important each week.” (Location 1922)

“some people on the team seem to want evidence that each Rock is on track before they believe it. And they also like to share a bunch of detail about what they’ve accomplished.” (Location 1926)

“I appreciate your passion, but debate and conflict can only be healthy and productive when we stay focused on the greater good of the business and avoid getting personal. (Location 1933)

“When you say ‘on track’ or ‘off track’ at a Level 10 Meeting, you’re providing the only status update a healthy leadership team needs. (Location 1940)

When you have a legitimate question or need for information, drop it down to the Issues List and IDS it later. (Location 1941)

And both owners instantly understood—very clearly—that some of the people in the room weren’t cut out for what lay ahead. (Location 1946)

If you’ll hold your observations, questions, and issues until the end, we’ll tackle them all at once. Does that work?” (Location 1954)

“you begin with a segue. Eileen invites the brave one to start with personal and business good news from the previous week and then moves left around the table. (Location 1958)

setting ’em up, knocking ’em down, and making ’em go away forever.” (Location 1967)

Next he explained how to quickly invite the team to prioritize the three most important issues. (Location 1972)

“So meetings don’t run over, collapse on top of other meetings and commitments, and force everything to run late. Questions?” (Location 1985)

He said, ‘Early is on time, and on time is late.’ So when a meeting starts at nine, we’re expecting you to be in your seat at nine, ready to go. (Location 1997)

“We’re nowhere near a 90 percent completion rate,” muttered Carol. (Location 2012)

He reminded them that a To-Do is a seven-day action item and urged the leaders to stop signing up for To-Dos that couldn’t possibly be done in seven days. (Location 2013)

“Art’s asked a good question that only the team can help him answer. Art?” (Location 2047)

“I often say vision without traction is hallucination,” Alan began, getting a few laughs. “With clear accountability and discipline in place, your discussions about the future and the decisions you’re about to make become more real, more attainable. You aren’t just hoping or wishing for something to happen. You’re predicting the future with people who will take ownership and then working hard together to achieve your vision.” (Location 2075)

“Core Values are a small set of essential, enduring principles that define your culture. Three to seven is the rule of thumb, hopefully closer to three because less is more. (Location 2084)

Alan asked the leaders to write down the names of three people at Swan who were true superstars. (Location 2090)

“This is nothing,” replied Alan, laughing. “I promise we’ll walk out of here with three to seven.” He led the team through the first cut (Location 2100)

“Make Your Values Mean Something.” Lencioni cited three “values traps”—mistakes companies make when defining Core Values that make it hard to use them to build and maintain an enduring company culture. (Location 2106)

If it’s not true of the company today, you can’t use it to hold people accountable tomorrow. It’ll be a joke. (Location 2111)

You will never hire someone without these traits, and you’ll ask people to leave the organization when you learn they don’t possess them. (Location 2112)

Accidental Core Values are characteristics that may have gotten you to where you are today but won’t be required of everyone in the company forever. (Location 2115)

“Fine,” Carol said dismissively. “I think it’s fluffy, that’s all. You don’t need to jump down my throat.” (Location 2127)