It's time to get off the speeding train and take a moment to take stock. We are fond of saying that “Traction is a good business book” AND that “Traction is NOT the last best business book that will be written.” One of the things that Traction got right is the need for weekly, monthly and quarterly check points on progress toward strategic business goals. Traction calls these “rocks” after Stephen Covey’s concept from the book First Things First. Big rocks are important things you put into the jar first. Then you fill in around them with small rocks and sand to fill the jar. If you start with the small stuff first, the big rocks won’t fit in because the small stuff will fill the jar if allowed.
So here, at the end of the second quarter, it is time to see how the business is doing on accomplishing big rocks. Big rocks are strategic ideas, changes or projects that, if completed, will move the business forward and help it grow profitably. The challenge of course is that customers and vendors and employees and regulators and others will fill our time with things that are not big rocks that do NOT drive profitable growth but interfere with it.
When planning for 2018 at the end of 2017, what big rocks were put in the plan? How much progress should be made by now? …and how is that working for the business? Are the earnings ½ of the way to the new target level? Are the people hired that needed to be hired? Are the new lines of business up and running? What were those rocks and are they on track? If not, now is the time to change course and do what can be done to bring them home in 2018. Begin with the financials and work out from there. If you are not using a performance scorecard for all the major focal points in the plan and the business, begin there and develop one. If you don’t have a plan for 2018, lay one in for the balance of the year. And give some thought to removing something from the business (see Via Negativa in a future post).