Checkpoint: Maintaining Traction
Back in early 2015, we incorporated many of the principles of Gino Wickman’s book Traction into our business practices. Since then, we’ve recommended it to several of our clients who were looking for a practical way to focus and strengthen their business. Blending best practices from a variety of other tried-and-true business books, Traction outlines ways to improve these six key business components:
- Vision: forming and conveying a vision statement and core focus that’s embraced and understood by everyone on your staff
- People: ensuring everyone on your staff gets what they’re supposed to do, wants to do it, and has the capacity to do it
- Data: developing a scorecard by which to regularly measure your business
- Issues: having a process to identify, discuss and solve organizational issues
- Process: identifying, addressing and documenting your core business processes
- Traction: staying accountable to all the above
For us, the accountability tools the book provides for that sixth component have been the most valuable. It offers regimented meeting agendas that help keep you on track to achieving designated quarterly priorities. Wickman calls the priorities “rocks” and the meetings “pulses,” but we refer to them as “fuel” and “checkpoints.” Every Wednesday at 9, we meet and use the weekly checkpoint agenda to ensure that we’re on track to complete our personal quarterly fuel, which ultimately helps us achieve our annual company goals.
The Weekly Checkpoint Agenda
As we did with the names “fuel” and “checkpoint,” we made several of the components of the weekly meeting unique to us by renaming them:
- Starting Line (5 minutes total): Each member of the leadership team gives a personal and business “best” for the week.
- Dashboard Review (5 minutes total): We review each of the data elements we’ve identified for our scorecard.
- Fuel Gauge (5 minutes total): We state our progress to completing our personal fuel items. We don't go into detail at this stage, just giving a simple “on track” or “off track” for each item.
- Traffic Signal (5 minutes total): We share any positive or negative feedback we have on employees, clients, vendors and prospects.
- To-do List (5 minutes total): We review progress on any to-dos assigned at the previous week’s checkpoint. Again, no detail at this time—we simply state “done” or “not done.”
- Idling (up to 1 hour total): Throughout the meeting, we take note of any off-track fuel, incomplete to-dos and anything else that we might need to discuss in greater depth. When we get to this point in the meeting, we prioritize these “idling” items, discuss them in order and solve what we can. Usually, this is where the next week’s to-do list comes from.
- Conclusion (5 minutes total): We recap our to-do list and determine if there are any cascading messages that need to be shared with other team members. Then we give the meeting a productivity ranking between 1 and 10 (according to Wickman, if you’ve properly implemented the agenda components, every meeting should be a 10).
Quarterly, we use that time to review the previous 90 days, establish our next quarter’s fuel and check progress toward our annual goals. Annually, we revisit our goals for the next three and ten years, and review our core values, mission, vision and target markets. Even if you don’t want to incorporate all the principles of Traction into your business, you might find value in regular, regimented meetings similar to the weekly pulses/checkpoints. Feel free to take the agenda above and make it your own!
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