A Traction® Transformation: Book Insights
How Equips Successfully Implemented the Traction® Components
At some point every successful entrepreneur will need to step back and evaluate how their business is operating and whether they are positioned to grow. At that pivotal moment for Adam York, President of Equips, one book proved to be a game-changer.
Traction by Gino Wickman, a consistent Best Seller on Amazon, has been used by entrepreneurs to learn tactics to run their businesses more effectively and accelerate their growth. Traction® explains EOS, Entrepreneurial Operating System®, that breaks down your business into Six Key Components™. Adam shared his key takeaways from the book and how the methodology outlined in Traction was implemented at Equips.
Traction is a single system directing talent and energy in one direction. It gets everyone speaking the same language and playing by the same rules.
Why did Equips go with Traction as a business operating model?
In 2015, I decided it was important to have a more formalized way of organizing the company. When we began the company, we were in building mode – just looking to grow, grow, grow. It was time to take a step back and put more structure around decision-making, problem solving, and how we functioned as a team.
I looked at various books on how to organize businesses, like Scaling Up, Rockefeller Habits, and others. While the concepts in each book are similar, the reason I went with Traction is because it had a simple concepts and practical tools we could easily implement. It also had a variety on online resources that I could use. The online resources and support for the systems in the book are outstanding.
What are the components outlined in Traction you found most useful?
Empowerment/Accountability: Finding the right balance of empowering employees, while also being intentional about accountability was key for me. It can be such a tough balance because following up with someone on whether a particular project or task is done can undermine that sense of empowerment you want employees to feel.
Problem-Solving: The heart of the Traction approach is regular, ongoing pulse meetings. During our weekly pulse meetings, we make sure we are all on track with our priorities, solve issues and communicate. This component of the program dramatically changed our approach as problem-solvers. We went from being pretty inefficient on how we resolved issues or roadblocks to our success. We were great at raising issues and not so great at doing the right things to solve the problems.
Within 18 months of implementing the pulse meetings, we became really disciplined and focused on identifying obstacles and challenges and taking steps to resolve them.
There is a big emphasis on leadership teams in Traction and how we need to see the bigger view to really be able to solve problems. Most problems are multi-faceted, and we tend to only see our own areas. Our leadership team got a lot better at tackling problems with an eye to the whole picture.
Goal-Setting: The EOS method of setting and remaining focused on goals (called “Rocks” in the program) also helped accelerate our forward progress on getting the things done that we think are important to our business. We agree to company-wide priorities as a leadership team, then drill down to personal “Rocks” that are tied to the company priorities. The pulse meetings keep us accountable as we share our progress on our various “Rocks.”
Rock: Clear 90-day priorities designed to keep leaders focused on what is most important.
What are the biggest shifts you’ve experienced at Equips because of Traction?
Using the components of the Traction program is how we took our Core Values up a notch. In the book, there is a section on how to actually use your Core Values in your day-to-day business. While we had already gone through the process of articulating our values and sharing them among our team, Traction helped us turn our Core Values into a management system which has been critical for hiring and retaining people.
Another aspect that I personally feel is the best thing to have come from this shift is having a Visionary/Integrator partnership on the leadership team. At Equips, I’m the Visionary and Beth Gettig, Executive Vice President is our Integrator. Moving to this model removed me from managing the implementation of a plan and allowed Beth to dig into how to use the resources of the company, which she excels at. We did not always operate this way. I would do integrator tasks and I wasn’t great at it.
Visionary – may have 10 ideas a week and one of them will be the idea that keeps the company growing.
Integrator – love running the day-to-day aspects of the business.
Traction is really useful in figuring out how to put people into their strength zones. When people are in the right seats, performance becomes a non-issue. As a leader, there is nothing I find more gratifying than placing the right person in the right role and then seeing them really excel.
How did you roll out components described in Traction in your business?
The entire leadership team read and began operating under EOS before anyone else. We then rolled it out to the rest of the teams. We empowered each team to make it their own and now every team is on some version of it. Everyone uses the same basic system, but personalized the tools based on the personality of their teams.
Were there growing pains as you implemented Traction?
In the book, the author predicts that leadership teams will likely change once you start implementing the six key components. That played out for us because as we examined how to put people into the right roles, things shifted. Traction gave us a tool for having conversations with all our employees about whether they were in their strength zones. If a change was needed, we worked on helping find the right positions for their strengths.
Finding Strength Zones:
- Do you “get” the job?
- Do you desire the job?
- Do you have the capacity to execute the job?
It’s a different mindset. We have processes and comprehensive job descriptions. Now that we look at what a job actually needs and hire according to our core values, we don’t have turnover issues.
Would you recommend Traction to other businesses?
Absolutely. We went from a loose-knit band of peers to a more effective, happier team of people. It’s given us a method to be the company we were trying to be. It’s not a substitute for good planning and thoughtfulness about your company. If you are already inclined that way, it gives you a system to follow and a wealth of resources online to help you with implementation.
You can learn more about Traction and EOS here.
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