As a growing organization, we have faced a number of growing pains along the way, including some fundamentals such as how we are managing the business. For ideas on how to implement a structured approach to management in an effort to improve our performance, we turned to Traction, a business book by Gino Wickman.

Our goals were to bring focus, eliminate noise, add simplicity, clearly define roles and responsibilities, assign accountabilities, and develop measurable action items. By shoring up six key components of our business as outlined by Wickman in his book, we have seen significant improvement.

1. Vision - Defining a Company's Mission Statement

Agreeing on and communicating a common vision for the business is critical to getting everyone rowing in the same direction. Questions we asked ourselves in defining our vision were:

  • What is our core purpose, or reason for existence beyond making money?
  • What are our core values?
  • What is our BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)?
  • Marketing strategy?
  • 1-year plan?
  • 90-day plan?
  • Issues list?
  • 3-year picture?

2. People - Optimizing Resources

Achieving the agreed-to vision requires having the right people in the right seats. Through a combination of core values and performance, we will strive to consistently hire, review, reward and recognize all people in the organization--and replace those who don't share our vision.

3. Data - Tracking Performance Via a Scorecard

Identify and agree to 5-15 metrics that are most critical to running the business and that can be easily tracked on a weekly basis. This enables our leadership team to have a fact-base discussion around the business's progress (or lack of progress).

4. Process - Documentation

To more clearly define roles and responsibilities, define the core processes for the business and create a consistent, repeatable playbook that everyone in the organization can understand and follow. The key is to not go overboard.

5. Issues - Addressing Red Flags

We have completely revamped our regular leadership meetings to follow a structured approach to solving issues so that they do not linger or go unnoticed for extended periods. Using the Identify-Discuss-Solve (IDS) approach has worked well for us:


  • Everyone brings at least 2 issues to the meeting
  • Specify what type of issue it is (e.g., problem to be solved, information that needs to be communicated and agreed to, or an idea/opportunity that needs feedback)


  • No tangents


  • Develop a conclusion or solution resulting in an action item and document the owner

6. Action - Developing Short-term (80-Day) Goal and Follow-up Meetings

The business should create accountability and discipline up front and then track the execution on a regular basis. In the leadership meetings, as goals and issues are identified, each is assigned an owner. The owner is responsible for timelines, calling meetings, pushing people and ensuring the goal is complete by the next meeting.

Implementing this structured approach at Avondale has had a tremendous impact on our leadership's productivity and has improved operations throughout the organization. By clearly setting expectations, it is easier to track progress, evaluate people, and address issues.

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Associate Lindsay Comstock contributed to this article.

Published on: Dec 24, 2012
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