Have you ever asked yourself where you’d like your business to be in 5 years? 10 years? Most of us are just trying to deal with the customers right in front of us, so we don’t take time to really ask ourselves, “What would this company look like in the future if I could pick What do I want the future of this company to be?”
Once you answer that question for yourself, you know which way to point. Perhaps you have a revenue target, a geographical reach, or maybe a certain staffing level. Do you hope to have a certain number of locations? You might have a goal for profitability or some number of customer reviews. Whatever you decide you want the future to look like becomes your vision.
If you don’t have a vision, you’ll never get there. As Yogi Berra said, “If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else.” In business, success is never an accident. But having a vision is not enough. We’ve got to take the necessary steps to get there.
In his book Traction, author Gino Wickman introduces the concept of "Rocks," a term used in the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) for prioritizing tasks and goals in a business. Rocks refer to the most important tasks or goals a business must achieve in the next 90 days to move closer to its long-term vision. In other words, they are real and concrete, but not insurmountable.
Wickman compares Rocks to large boulders that obstruct a stream and must be moved in order for the water to flow freely. In the same way, businesses must identify and achieve their Rocks in order to move forward and achieve their goals. Rocks can also be seen as stepping stones that let you get across the stream to your long-term goals. In this way, Rocks require effort and vision to overcome, but they are also invaluable metrics for evaluating your progress toward your goals.
So how does a business identify its Rocks? Wickman suggests that businesses start by setting a clear and compelling vision for where they want to be in 10 years. Once the vision is in place, the business should break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces, such as 3-year, 1-year, and quarterly goals. These quarterly goals will become the Rocks of your business.
Some guidelines for Rocks:
Rocks are specific.
It is important to note that Rocks should be specific, measurable, and achievable within the next 90 days. They should be the most important tasks or goals the business needs to achieve to move closer to its vision. Rocks should also be challenging but realistic so that they stretch the business but are still feasible. If they cannot be attained in 90 days or if they cannot be described with a binary or numerical goal, they aren’t Rocks.
Rocks are few.
Once a company has identified its Rocks, it must prioritize them. Wickman suggests that businesses should have no more than 3–7 Rocks at any given time. This ensures that the business can focus its energy and resources on the most important tasks rather than getting bogged down in too many things simultaneously. Prioritizing Rocks also helps to ensure that the business is working towards its most important goals rather than getting distracted by less important tasks.
Rocks have one owner.
If you have a team, everyone has to pitch in toward your company’s goals, but a team cannot collectively “own” a Rock. Each Rock should have a clear owner, who is responsible for ensuring that it is achieved on time and to a high standard. A Rock that has two owners is an orphan; if everyone is responsible for it, then no one is. Rocks must be assigned to specific team members with properly articulated expectations and appropriately delegated responsibilities.
Rocks require a plan.
To achieve their Rocks, businesses should create a plan of action. Wickman suggests that this plan should include specific tasks, deadlines, and accountability measures. The plan should also include regular check-ins and progress updates to ensure that the business is on track to achieve its Rocks.
One of the key benefits of the Rocks system is that it helps businesses focus their energy and resources on the most important tasks. This can lead to increased productivity and efficiency as the business works towards clear and measurable goals rather than nebulous targets that are still years away. It also helps to ensure that everyone in your business is aligned around the same priorities, which can reduce confusion and improve communication.
Another benefit of the Rocks system is that it can help businesses achieve their long-term vision. By breaking down the vision into smaller, more manageable pieces and focusing on the most important tasks in the short term, businesses can make steady progress toward their ultimate goal. This can help to build momentum and confidence as the business sees tangible progress toward its vision.
So here’s my challenge to you and your team: Can you think of three to seven attainable and specific goals your company can achieve in the next 90 days, moving you closer to your long-term vision? Write them down, talk to your team about them, assign them each to one person, and then Rock them out!