Managing Your Rocks

Man leading a meeting

It’s no secret that successful businesses operate with a clear vision shared by everyone. They identify and solve issues promptly in an open and honest environment. But how do you keep everyone focused, aligned and communicating well?

Set Your Quarterly Priorities

Most businesses are pretty good at business planning for the year, but few focus their vision all the way down to what really matters: the next 90 days. Instead, organizations tend to enter each quarter battling on all fronts, making everything a priority and accomplishing very little. By setting crystal clear priorities – EOS® calls them ‘Rocks’ – every quarter as a team, you gain considerably more focus and traction to reach your goals.

The term ‘Rock’ came from an analogy in Stephen Covey’s book, First Things First. Picture a glass cylinder set on the table. Next to the cylinder are rocks, gravel, sand and a glass of water. Imagine that the glass cylinder is all of the time that you have during a working day. The rocks represent your main priorities and the gravel your day-to-day responsibilities. The sand is interruptions and the water everything else that happens during your day. If you, as most people do, pour the water in first, the sand in second, the gravel in third, and the rocks in last – the rocks won’t fit. That’s your typical workday.

If you do the reverse and prioritize working on the big stuff first – put the rocks in, next add the gravel, then the sand, and finally pour the water in – everything fits in the glass cylinder perfectly. Therefore, if you work first on your biggest priorities, i.e., your Rocks, everything else falls into place.

Ninety Days At A Time

Quarterly Rocks create a 90-Day World™ for your organization, a powerful concept that enables you to gain tremendous traction. How does this work? Every 90 days your leadership team comes together to establish the three to seven most important things the company must get done in the next 90 days. You discuss and ultimately agree what has to be done in the next quarter to put you on track for your annual plan.

In a growing company, it’s normal to battle for resources, time and attention and there is always tension. But when you have finished setting your Rocks and the dust has settled, the leadership team should be united on what key objectives take precedence in the coming quarter. The focus on the Rocks is what makes this process so productive. Rather than being overwhelmed by the monumental task of accomplishing your vision, this process allows you to focus everyone in the same direction and break the vision down into bite-sized, achievable chunks.

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, which simply can’t be done. By limiting priorities, you can focus on what is most important. With the increased intensity of focusing on a limited number of Rocks, i.e., doing less, your people will accomplish more.

How strong is your company?

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