Traction overview

Get a Grip on Your Business!

In Fargo & Minneapolis,

Harlan Goerger

facilitates CEO groups

implementing Traction® through

CEO Solutions 

“You’ll find it a very simple and straightforward system that will challenge you and your teams leadership to the max.”  “The nice thing, if you’re successful in implementing Traction, is the need for a huge dumptruck to haul your profits to the bank!”

– Harlan Goerger, CEO Solutions

a note -

Following are excerpts from the book, by Gino Wickman;

notes from a Book Report of Traction, by Gary Tomlinson;

as well as input from Members of the100


Traction – Get a Grip on Your Business is not another book-of-the-month strategy. It’s based on real-world experience, practical wisdom and timeless truths. More importantly, it works.

If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you’re experiencing 1 or more of 5 common frustrations:

  1. Lack of control: You don’t have enough control over your time, market or your company. Instead of controlling the business, the business is controlling you.
  2. People: You’re frustrated with your employees, customers, vendors or partners. They don’t seem to listen, understand you or follow through with their actions. You’re not on the same page.
  3. Profit: Simply put, there’s not enough of it.
  4. The Ceiling: Your growth has stopped. No Matter what you do, you can’t seem to break through and get to the next level. You feel overwhelmed and unsure of what to do next.
  5. Nothing’s working: You’ve tried various strategies and quick-fix remedies. None have worked for long, and as a result, your staff has become numb to new initiatives. You’re spinning your wheels and you need traction to move again.

What I teach business leaders is simple, but not simplistic. I help them melt away the five common frustrations by implementing the same basic tools that successful organizations employ. As a result, business leaders come out feeling more in control, happier and less stressed. Their organizations are more profitable, more focused and staffed by great employees.

This book contains all the tools and components that make up the Entrepreneurial Operations System (EOS). Master the individual elements of EOS and you’ll be able to integrate them into a powerful framework that will help you gain traction and realize the vision you’ve always had for your company.

Chapter 1: The Entrepreneurial Operating System:

The Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) identifies Six Key Components of any organization. They are:

1. Vision: Focus everyone’s energy toward one thing and amazing results will follow.

2. People: Are all of your people the right ones for their jobs? The reality is that some are probably hurting your cause more than helping.

3. Data: The best leaders rely on a handful of metrics to help manage their business. This frees you from the quagmire of managing personalities, egos, subjective issues, emotions and intangibles by teaching you which metrics to focus on.

4. Issues: Issues are obstacles that must be faced to execute your vision. Just as an individual’s success is directly proportionate to his or her ability to solve any issues that arise, the same holds true for a company.

5. Process: Most entrepreneurs don’t understand how powerful process can be, but when you apply it correctly, it works like magic, resulting in simplicity, scalability and profitability. You will never get your company to the next level by keeping your processes in your head and winging it as you go.

6. Traction: In the end, the most successful business leaders are the ones with traction. They execute well and they know how to bring focus, accountability and discipline to their organization. Due to fear and lack of discipline, the Traction Component is typically most organizations’ weakest link. The inability to make a business vision a reality is epidemic Now that we know what the Six Key Components are, we need to assess where your company is right now.

The Organizational Checkup will tell you exactly where you are on this path. Complete this 20-question survey to get a snapshot of where you are on the journey between 0 and 100 percent.

Chapter 2: Letting Go of the Vine:

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. If the first two are not an option, it’s time to admit that you don’t want to live this way any longer.

Change is scary. You’re not alone in feeling anxious. About jeopardizing what you already have. But despite the worries, it’s time for a shift in thinking. You need to change from believing that you are your company and letting it become its own entity. With the right vision, structure and people in place, your company can evolve and realize its full potential. To be truly ready for this change, you must be willing to embrace the following four fundamental beliefs:

Building a True Leadership Team: Would you prefer a dictatorship or a true leadership team approach to running your business? Both leadership methods can work, so you have to decide.

Hitting the Ceiling is Inevitable: Organizations usually expand in spurts, by smashing through a series of ceilings. Reaching the natural limits of your existing resources is a byproduct of growth and a company continually needs to adjust its existing state if it hopes to expand through the next ceiling. You and your leadership team need to understand this, because you will hit the ceiling on three different levels: as an organization, departmentally and as individuals.

You can only run your Business on one Operating System: You must have one abiding vision, one voice, one culture and one operating system. EOS is an operating system that puts everybody on the same page.

You must be Open-Minded, Growth-Oriented and Vulnerable: You have to be willing to be open to new and different ideas. If you don’t know something, you have to admit that you don’t know. You have to be willing to ask for and receive help. Most of all, you have to know your strengths and weaknesses and let other people who are more skilled than you in a certain area take charge.

Chapter 3: The Vision Component:

Most entrepreneurs can clearly see their vision. Their problem is that they make the mistake of thinking that everyone else in the organization sees it too. In most cases, they don’t and as a result, leaders end up frustrated, staff ends up confused and great visions are left unrealized. The process of gaining traction starts here. Clarify your vision and you will make better decisions about people, processes, finances, strategies and customers.

To learn how to create a strong vision, you must first answer eight important questions. The eight questions are as follows:

  1. What are your core values?
  2. What is your core focus?
  3. What is your 10-year target?
  4. What is your marketing strategy?
  5. What is your 3-year focus?
  6. What is your 1-year plan?
  7. What are your quarterly rocks?
  8. What are your issues?

(You can use the V/TO – Vision Traction Organizer to record your answers).

Chapter 4: The People Component:

It all comes down to getting the right people in the right seats. The right people are the ones who share your company’s core values. They fit and thrive in your culture. They are people you enjoy being around and who make your organization a better place to be.

In this chapter you will be introduced to your second EOS tool, the People Analyzer, which will cut through the murkiness of personnel choices to show you who’s right for your company.

Core Values + People Analyzer = Right People

The People Analyzer is designed to clarify whether you have the right person in the right seat. This is one of the top five tools in the EOS Process.

The right seat means that each of your employees is operating within his or her area of greatest skill and passion inside your organization and that the roles and responsibilities expected of each employee fit with his or her Unique Ability. When a person is operating in his or her Unique Ability, he or she is in the right seat.

Unique Ability + Accountability Chart = Right Seats

That leads us to the Accountability Chart, the ultimate tool for structuring your organization the right way, defining roles and responsibilities and clearly identifying all of the seats in the organization.

The Accountability Chart: This tool does not assume there is only one way to structure an organization. You could read a hundred books on organizational development and find a hundred different opinions of the way to structure an organization. The key question is this: “What is the right structure to move your organization forward in the next six to 12 months?” Next to the V/TO, the Accountability Chart has the most impact of any EOS tool. It forces its users to view their organization in a different way and to address people issues that have been holding them back for years.

With your vision clear and shared by all and with the right people in the right seats, the next step is measuring your progress and having an absolute pulse on your business. That requires the use of data

Chapter 5: The Data Component:

This chapter is designed to help your formulate and manage your data to let you take the pulse of your business consistently and accurately so that you can then take effective action. You will no longer be managing assumptions, subjective opinions, emotions and egos.

You will gain the power of being able to manage your business through a chosen handful of numbers. These numbers will allow you to monitor your business on a weekly basis, quickly showing which activities are on track or off track. Once you have tracked those numbers for a while, you will achieve the valuable ability to see patterns and trends to predict the future.

Scorecard: Anything that is measured and watched is improved. The concept of managing through a Scorecard has been around for a long time. The unfortunate reality is that most organizations don’t have a Scorecard. They lack activitybased numbers to review on a regular basis. The Scorecard should cause an organizational shift. Your leadership team will become more proactive at solving problems because you’ll have hard data that not only points our current problems but also predicts future ones.

Measurables: What gets measured gets done. Complete mastery of your Data Component is achieved when you boil the organization’s numbers down to the point where everyone has a single meaningful, manageable number to guide them in their work. This number will enable leaders to create clarity and accountability throughout their team. With a completed Scorecard, you can track high-level numbers down to a single person as the source.

EVERYONE HAS A NUMBER: There are eight distinct advantages to everyone having a number:

  1. Numbers cut through murky subjective communication between manager and direct reports.
  2. Numbers create accountability. When you set a number, everyone knows what the expectation is.
  3. Accountability people appreciate numbers. Wrong people in the wrong seats usually resist measurables.
  4. Numbers create clarity and commitment. When an employee is clear on his or her number and agrees that he or she can achieve it, you have commitment.
  5. Numbers create competition. There’s nothing wrong with a little pressure.
  6. Numbers produce results. What gets watched improves.
  7. Numbers create teamwork. When a team composed of the right people in the right seats agree to a number to hit, they ask themselves “how can we hit it,” creating camaraderie and peer pressure.
  8. You solve problems faster. When an activity-based number is off track, you can attack it and solve the problem proactively; unlike with an end-result based number that shows up after it’s too late to change it.

With the tabulation of data, your organization accomplishes the third essential component of gaining traction. With the vision clear, people in place and data being managed through a Scorecard, you’re creating a transparent organization where there is nowhere to hide. Your company is open and honest. Any obstacles that stand in the way of achieving your vision will be apparent. Your job is to now remove those barriers and solve the issues holding you back.

Chapter 6: The Issues Component:

The fourth essential component of gaining traction is having the discipline to face and solve your organization’s issues as they arise. It’s human nature to put off making a hard decision. If given the option, most people would prefer not to address an issue and hope that it goes away on its own.

The reluctance to act can be a drag on growth and is extremely frustrating to watch. Your ability to exceed is in direct proportion to your ability to solve problems. The better you are at solving problems, the more successful you become.

In this Issues Component chapter, you’ll learn the next two EOS tools to wield against obstacles holding your company back. The first is a discipline of creating an Issues List. The second is the Issues Solving Track. Once you set them up, you’ll knock those obstacles down.

A vital first step is creating a workplace where people feel comfortable calling out the issues that stand in the way of your vision. With an open and honest organization, the Issues List becomes a tool that creates a discipline to keep all of your issues out in the open and organized in one place.

1. The Issues List in your Vision/Traction Organizer (V/TO): These are the company issues that can be shelved beyond 90 days

2. The weekly leadership team Issues List: The time frame on these items is much shorter. These are all of the relevant issues for this week and quarter that must be tackled at the highest level.

3. The departmental Issues List: These issues are on a more local level. These include all the relevant departmental issues for the week that must be tackled during the weekly departmental meetings.

With an open and honest culture and the three Issues Lists clear, issues will start flowing freely.

The Issues Solving Track: Most teams suffer from different challenges when solving issues. The common ones include fear of conflict, lack of focus, lack of discipline, lack of commitment and personal ego. The Issues Solving Track consists of three steps:

1. Identify  2. Discuss  3. Solve Step

1: Identify: Clearly identify the real issue, because the stated problem is rarely the real one. The underlying issue is always a few layers down.

Step 2: Discuss: Most people spend the majority of their time at this step. They rarely identify the real problem before they start discussing and thus they rarely solve anything. They just discuss everything ad nauseam and they actually think they are being productive.

Step 3: Solve: The solve step is a conclusion or solution that usually becomes an action item for someone to do. The item ends up on the To-Do List and when the action is completed, the issue goes away forever. Solving issues takes time. By solving issues now, you’ll save time exponentially across departments by eliminating all future symptomatic issues.

As you master this third step of the Issues Solving Track and become stronger at solving your own issues, your team must internalize the following 10 important aspects of solving issues.

The 10 Commandments of Solving Issues:

  1. Thou Shalt Not Rule by Consensus.
  2. Thou Shalt Not be a Weenie.
  3. Thou Shalt be Decisive.
  4. Thou Shalt Not Rely on Secondhand Information.
  5. Thou Shalt Fight for the Greater Good.
  6. Thou Shalt Not Try to Solve Them All.
  7. Thou Shalt Live with It, End It, or Change It.
  8. Thou Shalt Choose Short-Term Pain and Suffering.
  9. Thou Shalt Enter the Danger.
  10. Thou Shalt Take a Shot.

The Issues Solving Track always follows the three steps: identify, discuss and solve. The acronym for the track is IDS. As you move forward in mastering the Six Key Components, IDS will become an important aspect of your day-to-day running of the business. From now on, when faced with an issue, you simply “IDS it.”

Chapter 7: The Process Component:

Nothing can be fine-tuned until it is first consistent. The Process Component is strengthened through your understanding of the 6 to 10 core processes that make up your unique business model. You then have to make sure that everyone in your organization understands them, values them and follows them.

This component is the most neglected one, often taken for granted and undervalued by entrepreneurs and leaders. Yet the successful ones see what process can do for them. By not giving this component your full attention, it’s costing you money, time, efficiency and control.

The culmination of identifying, documenting and having everyone follow the core processes of your business is your Way. When you have a clear Way, you immediately increase the value of your business, strengthen your control over it and give yourself options.

First, you have to document the core processes. Second, you have to ensure that they are followed by all.

Documenting Your Core Processes:

Your leadership team needs to identify and agree on what to call your 6 to 10 core processes.

  • The HR process is the way you search, find, hire, orient, manage, review, promote, retain and fire people.
  • The marketing process is the way you get your message to your target audience and generate interest in what you do and prospects for your salespeople.
  • The sales process is the way you convert a prospect into a customer.
  • The operations processes are the way you make your product or provide your service to your customer.
  • The accounting process is the flow and management of all monies coming in and going out.
  • The customer-retention process is the proactive way that you take care of your customers after your product or service has been delivered and the way you retain customers so that they continue to come back and send you referrals.

Document each of the Core Processes: In this step, the Accountability Chart comes into play. The person that is accountable for a certain process takes charge of documenting it.

Package It: Now that your core processes are documented, Step 3 is the easiest of all. Here’s where you take all of the great work you’ve done in Steps 1 and 2 and package it. The titles of your core processes now become your table of contents.

Followed by All: When everyone follows their process, it’s much easier for managers to manage, troubleshoot, identify and solve issues and therefore grow the business. The clear lines of process enable you to let go and gain more control.

With the mastery of the Process Component, you’re closing in on achieving your destination. You’re now ready to bring it all down to the ground with the final piece of the puzzle – the Traction Component.

Chapter 8: The Traction Component:

Action is the process of doing. That’s what this chapter is all about. Gaining traction means making your vision a reality. At this moment, your vision is crystal clear, you have the right people in the right seats, you’re managing data, you’re solving your issues and you’ve defined your Way of doing business and everyone is following it.

Now you’re ready to master organizational traction, the final piece of the puzzle. Mastering the first five components was essential before tackling this component, because without them, you might gain traction, but in the wrong direction. When the first five components are strong, you will take off in the right direction – toward your vision.

First, everyone must set specific, measurable priorities. Second, you must meet better as an organization.

These two essentials are called: Rocks and a Meeting Pulse.

Rocks: With a clear long-term vision in place, you’re ready to establish short-term priorities that contribute to achieving your vision. You will establish the three to seven most important priorities for the company, the ones that must be done in the next 90 days. Those priorities are called Rocks.

Your company will have Rocks, each member of your leadership team will have Rocks and your employees will also have Rocks. The reason to limit Rocks to three to seven (preferably closer to three) is that you’re going to break the organization of the habit of trying to focus on everything at once. It simply can’t be done.

Meeting Pulse: For now and forever, let’s dispel the myth that all meetings are bad, that meetings are a waste of time and that there are already too many of them. The fact is that wellrun meetings are the moment of truth for accountability. To gain traction, you’ll probably need to meet even more than you presently do.

The Meeting Pulse consists of two types of meetings.

The first is quarterly and the second is weekly:

1. The 90-Day World: As part of your vision, you created a three-year picture. After that came a one-year plan and now a 90-Day World. The 90-day idea stems from a natural phenomenon – that human beings stumble, get off track and lose focus roughly every 90 days. To address this aspect of human nature, you must implement a routine throughout the entire organization that creates a 90-Day World.

2. The Weekly Meeting Pulse: The traction process continues taking the vision down to the ground. We are now narrowing in from quarterly to weekly. Implementing this step will really create traction and help you execute the vision.

Chapter 9: Putting It All Together:

Now that the context is clear, mastery of all Six Key Components is within your reach. You’re well on your way to achieving 100 percent. Mastery means that you and your leadership team understand each tool and have implemented them properly. The combination of strengthening the Vision, People, Data, Issues, Process and Traction Components is what makes the real magic occur.