Broken Arrow

What to do when your Rocks are in danger
As a business leader, have you ever had to divert all of your resources to solve an issue—or
even a potential catastrophe?

When I was in the restaurant business, we often encountered two main bottlenecks during a
busy shift: the Host Stand and the Expo Window (the window where all the food comes out of
the kitchen.) When either of these two stations became overwhelmed, the entire restaurant
would come to a halt. Customers would sit by the door, waiting. Entrees would pile up in the
Expo Window or arrive late at their tables. Hosts and servers would scramble to seat and serve
guests. The delays caused a loss of revenue by decreasing the number of guests served,
increasing their frustration by not being served on time, or even turning them away because of
high waiting times.

When either of these two stations became overwhelmed, the leader would call “Broken Arrow”.
This is a term that I learned from the Vietnam War movie We Were Soldiers.

The film focuses on The Battle of Ia Drang, which was the first major engagement of the
Vietnam War between U.S. forces and the People’s Army of Vietnam. Lt. Colonel Harold “Hal”
Moore and his battalion found themselves in such an intense struggle that after two days of
fighting, Moore radioed the code word “Broken Arrow.” In military terms, Broken Arrow is an
urgent call for any available air assets to rescue a unit from imminent destruction. The airstrike
was successful, and Moore and his men were able to open the way for reinforcements.

In our business, Broken Arrow meant that all available managers and team members—all
available “aircraft”—had to rescue that station. Everyone had to help seat guests or run food
from the Expo window to the guests’ tables.

I thought of this term again recently as it may apply to completing Rocks in an EOSTM-run

When a leadership team debates, discusses, and decides on their Rocks—the 3-7 most
important priorities for the next 90 days—they set up their team for more success now and in
the future. That could be a more streamlined process, a better-functioning department, or even
increased revenue.

Now, we are coming to the end of a quarter, where Rocks should be close to Done. The
Company Rocks that are “Off Track”, or in danger of not getting completed must be dropped
down to IDS—Identify, Discuss, and Solve at your Weekly Level 10 Meeting to get them back
On Track.

When you drop issues down to IDS, you must prioritize the 1, 2, and 3 most important issues
that you must solve this week.

Company Rocks are essential and must be completed. Now is the time for all resources to be

These are the most critical objectives your organization needs to focus on. These Rocks are directly
aligned with your company’s long-term vision and goals. By prioritizing Company Rocks, you ensure
that every effort and resource is channeled toward achieving the milestones that matter most to the
overall success of your business.
What Company Rocks do you need to call “Broken Arrow” for before the end of the quarter?

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