Your quarterly “Rocks” are the clear priorities that will govern where each employee puts his or her primary effort every day. Because these are the true action items for your team and all of your employees, it’s critical to follow set processes to establish your Rocks.
In the book Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business, author Gino Wickman lists eight steps for establishing Rocks:
- Let your team list everything they want to accomplish in the next 90 days.
- Narrow down the list to a few true priorities for the entire company.
- Assign due dates.
- Assign ownership to each company Rock.
- Let team leaders set their own Rocks.
- Create a Rock sheet to refer to in weekly progress reviews.
- Share the Rocks with the entire organization.
- Have each department and each employee establish an individual set of Rocks to support quarterly company Rocks.
In working through this process, your leadership team will naturally start with many priorities and it will be easy to get distracted. To help maintain cohesive focus throughout the quarter, set a few ground rules to guide your engagement.
1. Involve the entire team.
The team meets for a full day every 90 days. At this meeting, you’ll review your vision and the 1-year plan. Ideally, you’ll have made progress that you can briefly reflect upon and verify against the plan, but the goal of this meeting is to identify the priorities for the next 90 days.
Remind the team that less is more when it comes to Rocks; you want a list that is manageable and achievable. On average, most teams start with long lists, covering as many as 20 or more things that they want to accomplish during a 90-day sprint. Discuss and debate which are the most important. Make as many passes as needed to narrow down the list, aiming for between three and seven true priorities. After a little practice, the right Rocks will be apparent to everyone on the team.
2. Establish accountability.
After reviewing the vision and plan and creating the list of Rocks, you’ll assign the Rocks. At the end of the 90 days, all the Rocks are due; you may discover that you can assign intermediate dates along that 90-day stretch.
Remember that a Rock is specific, measurable, and attainable. Some examples of Rocks are:
- Close 10 new client accounts.
- Create a visual mockup of the new app.
- Contact 50 existing clients about new orders.
Each Rock must be so clear that at the end of the 90 days there is no ambiguity as to whether it was achieved. This is how your team creates accountability.
3. Commit to the focus.
At the end of your meeting, the agreement must be clear and upfront that the priorities are set — and no new priorities can be added during the next 90 days.
If the CEO decides she hates the website and wants it updated, wait until the next quarter when it will get discussed and either prioritized or tossed. Send everyone forward with the knowledge that you’ll circle back at the end of the 90 days and examine the completed Rocks.
When your team members know their Rocks and manage their Rocks without fear of disruptions or changes, it creates clarity and the space to be creative with the broader end goals in mind.