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"“Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.”"

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"Is your Business tied up in the Sand?"

04-09-2019 09:52 by Ian Kinnery

Rockefeller Habits #2

2. Everyone is aligned with the #1 thing that needs to be accomplished this quarter to move the company forward

In any and every business there are more things to be done than there is time to do them. Most firms don’t ever really consider this fact when planning their growth, partly because most firms don’t ever really plan their growth. They just drive and drive and hope that growth is the end result, and it may well be so but it may not be manageable and sustainable growth.

Sustainable Growth

Firms that are scaling up using the Rockefeller Habits are smarter than this. They know that if they want rapid, sustainable growth they need to behave differently. They need to prioritise their initiatives and manage them well. Therefore every quarter, the leadership team will decide between them what is the number one strategic initiative that will move the company forward. They typically make this decision in the quarterly planning session (see Habit #3) when they will consider the most important initiatives the company needs to be making right now.

Strategic Iniatives

We call these ‘rocks’ after the story about filling a jar with rocks, stones and sand. As the story goes putting the big rocks in first, allows the stones to fill the gaps between the rocks and the sand to fill all the gaps between the rocks and the stones allowing the jar to accommodate everything. If you start with the sand, it just wont work. Many businesses get so tied up in the ‘sand’, the minutiae of a business that they never get around to the rocks, the big strategic initiatives that will move the business forward.

On a quarterly basis Rockefeller Habits businesses formally prioritise their number 1 rock, appoint someone accountable for delivering it and align the whole company around achieving that rock.

Every Rockefeller habit has 4 subheadings.

  • The Critical Number is identified to move the company ahead this quarter.
  • 3-5 Priorities (Rocks) that support the Critical Number are identified and ranked for the quarter.
  • A Quarterly Theme and Celebration/Reward are announced to all employees that bring the Critical Number to life.
  • Quarterly Theme/Critical Number posted throughout the company and employees are aware of the progress each week.

So each firm employing the Rockefeller Habits operates in 13 week sprints. Choosing a new initiative every quarter to drive growing performance. By using a critical number, a theme and engaging all employees it is possible to get tremendous energy and force behind each strategic initiative. And when done properly each strategic initiative will become part of the firm’s way of working, for all time.

The business of business 

In his book ‘Rock and Sand’ Michael Synk uses the analogy of a big hole to represent the business. On one side there is sand and on the other side a pile of rocks. Sweeping the sand into the hole represents the business of the business and we can never stop sweeping the sand but it will take a lot of time to fill the hole ( build the business) but if we can drop a rock into the hole every so often, without stopping the sweeping, we will fill the hole much quicker.

So we must carry on the business of the business and regularly implement strategic improvements as we go. By focussing our priorities in quarterly sprints we will move the needle much more quickly and much more consistently, while at the same time developing the leadership team.

We will measure this by the use of the critical number and celebrate our successes as we go. 

So, the second of the ten Rockefeller habits, like the other nine, seems simple and seems obvious, which they all are. But simple doesn’t necessarily mean easy. Getting to a place where we can deliver our rocks with discipline and consistency takes a culture of accountability and the skill and expertise of an aligned leadership team. I wonder how far you and your business are away from being able to consistently perform at such a level and how much difference will it make when you are?

To learn even more about the Rockerfeller Habits come along to our FREE 90-minute seminar next week. Register your place below:


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