*First appeared in January, 2015 issue of Prairie Business Magazine.
As any entrepreneur knows, running a business is not easy. I enjoy it every day – but it is definitely a challenge. I am personally driven by the challenge of running our business as well as a business can be run. To that end, I’m always looking for ways to run the business better.
On his first day with the company in May of 2013, our new VP of Business Development said you really need to read this book called “Traction” by Gino Wickman. He said a number of companies in Minneapolis have been following the roadmap to success outlined in that book and they’ve been extremely successful. I’m not that avid of a reader, but there have been several books I’ve read over the years like the e-Myth Revisited, the Speed of Trust and Good to Great and this book was touted as something that combines concepts discussed in these books into a comprehensive playbook for how to run a company. As I read it, I realized the genius of the book – it wasn’t necessarily teaching breakthrough concepts, but the breakthrough was in how it took all these other good ideas and made them simple to understand and execute on.
The book talks about the 6 different components of business:
1. Your vision: Where you define your mission, values, niche and 10, 3 and 1-year plans
2. your people: How to define accountabilities and put people in the right seat on the bus
3. Your data: The importance of scorecards
4. Your issues: How to bring up issues quickly, discuss them and move to resolution quickly
5. Your process: How to take advantage of the your unique processes
6. Traction: Traction is the way you adopt and make all these components real within your business. Without traction, you miss out on the execution necessary to make your business successful.
How Traction Works at Stoneridge Software
We introduced Traction as a way to run our business in July of 2013 and we’ve been building on it ever since. Implementing Traction has led to several practical differences for us – 1) we have a common set of values and vision for where we want to go as a company which has helped guide our decision making and build a cohesive team, 2) we implemented a weekly scorecard which tells us in great detail what we’re doing and where we need to apply attention as a leadership team and 3) we have weekly meetings that bring us together as a leadership team to tackle issues, make decisions and keep the pressure on key initiatives within the company.
More Companies Adopting Traction
Having never heard of Traction before last spring, I’ve been surprised at how many successful companies are using it and how much it’s helped us and them improve as business leaders. In Fargo, I recently joined a group of regional CEOs who get together each month to talk about how we can run our businesses together, and all of us are implementing Traction to help our businesses be better. The winner of our Barnesville Business Pitch competition this past August is planning to implement Traction in his new business as it takes off.
I encourage all business leaders to check out the concepts in Traction and see how it can help you run your business. The book is $9.47 on Amazon and you can read it in about 2.5 hours, so it’s not a very big commitment to see if this model will work well for you. I was amazed by the clarity with which the book brings together these best practices into a system that has helped our business thrive. It’s been a key element of our success and is being used at many other successful companies in the area.