Are you familiar with the term rocks as it applies to business?
Rocks – as defined by Stephen Covey in his classic book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – refers to the most important tasks on our plates, the things that must get accomplished within a specific time period. This is a simple but powerful concept, as it helps us prioritize and not get distracted by our ever-expandinglists of to-dos.
Quarterly rocks make sense in business. Three months is enough time to accomplish things of substance but not so long that we lose focus and fall off track.
The real power happens when managers report on rock progress in their weekly management meetings – with just a quick “on-track” or “off-track.” Sometimes “off-track” reveals an issue that needs to be addressed during the issue-solving portion of the meeting, when the team can brainstorm about how to get things back on track.
Rocks are especially useful when the company has a clear vision. Based on this vision, the leadership team identifies the three to seven most important rocks for the company per quarter and then for their own areas of responsibility.
Remember, accountability is key, so only one person should “own” each rock. For example, if you’re the CIO, one of your rocks may be the “final installation of the enterprise-software system.” There may be lots of people involved in this project, with various levels of responsibility. But at the end of the day, you’re accountable for its completion.
Is your next quarter on track to be rock solid? If not, consider whether your leaders are focused on the right priorities and are truly accountable for the results. This is an area where management teams often fall short.
The clearer your vision is, the more straightforward your rock-setting process will be. And with a better rock-setting process, you can more quickly take your company to the next level.
Now, that rocks!
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