Everyone who runs a company on EOS struggles with how to set Rocks at the start of their journey. If you’re having issues with that, take heart – you are not alone! And it’s not as difficult as it may seem at first.
The most important thing to remember is what Rocks actually are. A Rock is just a project or a goal that you determine is one of your top priorities for the next 90 days.
If you need a refresher, re-read Chapter 8, pages 170-176 in “Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business” or Chapter 5, pages 79-90 in “What the Heck is EOS?”.
The key to writing great Rocks is to make them S.M.A.R.T. That’s an acronym for:
• Specific • Measurable • Attainable • Realistic • Timely
Write a Rock that misses even one of these key attributes, and you’ll be at great risk for not achieving it. As an illustration, I’ll share a Rock I set a while back in my EOS Coaching Department Quarterly:
“Revise and improve our Proven Process for recruiting new EOS implementers,
gain approval of the team, and roll out the new process to the other coaches.”
As Steven Covey says, “Begin with the end in mind.” Start by naming a specific result you want to be true by the end of the quarter. The way I worded my example Rock was very specific. It could have been shortened to “Revise and roll out new Proven Process,” but I find it’s easier for me to start with a complicated statement and then simplify it. You may need to do it the other way around – make it simple first, and then detail what it means. Do it in the way that’s best for you. Just make sure the bottom line is as specific as it can possibly be.
Overall, a Rock is measurable if you can easily call it “done” or “not done” at the end of the quarter. You must be able to clearly state how you will know whether it has been achieved at the end of the quarter. In my example, if I produced a new document, but didn’t get it rolled out to the rest of the coaching team and train others on it, the Rock would be incomplete (which it was – more on that later).
A truly great Rock has been broken down further into the individual steps or tasks needed to achieve it, and target dates for completing each one. The EOS “Getting What You Want” tool is excellent for creating this kind of detailed action plan. Many of my clients use some sort of project planning tool to make their Rocks measurable. Trello and Asana are popular apps, (there are 29 free or open source ones here), but even a simple Excel spreadsheet can work well. Here’s the one I use personally.
This part is fairly self-explanatory. A Rock must be something you actually have the capacity to achieve. For example, if you want to increase your sales volume by 25%, but you don’t have enough salespeople to do it, you shouldn’t write a Rock around increasing sales by that much. Instead, you should set a Rock to hire the new people you need to achieve the sales increase you want.
This is where many of us get in trouble! It’s why I didn’t achieve my Proven Process Rock. I overestimated my ability and underestimated the time it would take. I should have shortened my ambitions to “Revise Proven Process” for that quarter, and made “Get final approval, roll out Proven Process” a Rock for the next quarter.
Many goal-setting gurus will say you have to set goals beyond your comfort zone to achieve great things, and there is a lot of truth in that. But in setting Rocks, you must also be realistic and not try to do more than is actually possible in one quarter.
“T” is last in the acronym, but it’s actually the first thing you need to make your Rock. A Rock can’t be SMART if it doesn’t have a deadline. Remember that Rocks are the top priorities for the next 90 days. If there’s something you want to do, but it’s not time to do it now, put it on your Long-Term Issues List and consider it next quarter.
If it’s time to do the Rock now, set a date for when it’s due. If you want to make the Rock really SMART and timely, use my spreadsheet (or some other tool) to break down when each individual step toward completing a Rock must be accomplished to keep the Rock on-track.
When a Rock fails, 99% of the time it will be because it wasn’t truly SMART. If you don’t achieve a Rock, don’t beat yourself up. Just analyze it to determine which of these attributes it didn’t have, and then correct your course going forward. With just a little practice, you can write great Rocks every quarter!
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