Customer Reviews: Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business
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on July 6, 2010
I read Traction in April 2010 and started applying it to my consulting business. We are an information technology consulting firm, with 10 consultants (including me) working on around 5 projects at any given time. Applying the EOS has brought about a big change in the way I approach my business. Our situation is typical of other consulting firms: 99% of the energy in the firm is spent on serving our clients, so not much attention is paid to "working on the business."

Rather than write a review of the book, I think some readers might benefit from seeing the practical application of the EOS model described in the book:

I did the Organizational Checkup candidly and scored 53%. Here's the status of the other areas:
1. Vision: Complete. Has been reviewed and updated with the input of the team. The V/TO is a very useful tool.

2. People: In progress. The Get It / Want It / Capacity assessment has been completed (with the team). The right person/right seat is a challenge because currently one person is occupying most of the seats. The book has given us the framework for right person/right seat and we are determining how to apply it without asking our team to overcommit themselves.

3. Data: We've created our initial scorecard, and we jointly reviewed it in May and June. The next monthly review is in mid-July, and we will be adding more metrics. More info here on my blog post: [...]

4. Issues: We had an external consultant spend time with us in June to observe our operations and provide us a candid assessment. As a result, we've got a list of issues and recommendations. The implementation of the major items is not yet certain. We have to face the choice between focusing on client work versus working on the business. Some of the issues won't be addressed until I remove myself substantially from client work and act like a CEO.

5. Processes: We were already fairly strong in the processes that affect our clients (project delivery, proposals, estimating, recruiting etc.). Some of our internal processes are being improved as a result of having worked on the scorecard.

6. Traction: We're not there yet (as of early July 2010). We need to make the tough choices (and accompanying investment in the roles) before we can have proper accountability, communication and teamwork for executing our plan and achieving our goals. Our focus remains on doing innovative things for our clients, and I believe that's the right thing to do. It will not be practical to hire a new CEO. So, I will be stepping away from billable roles, and "working on the business instead of in the business."

Overall, I highly recommend this book to any business owner who wants a frank assessment of what's going well and what can be done better. This book is like a mirror. In our case, it is motivational and will help provide a better experience for our team members and clients.
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on October 4, 2014
This is essentially a self-help book for business executives. While there are many useful items in here it is ultimately steered towards generating more consulting business for the author and his fellow consultants. Much of the the useful advice listed in here is already understood by most employees at the most basic of companies under different names. Having worked at companies that implemented the processes discussed in this book and the former front runner From Good to Great I have some advice for business executives to ensure success in getting traction:

1. Read the entire book and comprehend.
2. If you use the quote "getting the right people into the right seats on the bus" in meetings with specific people in mind it is you that are in the wrong seat, the bus has no driver, and the wheels rotted away long ago. It may also be a shorter bus than you want.
3. Do not pick and choose sections to implement that fit your agenda.
4. Your "rocks" should not consist of delegating ill-conceived rocks to lower level employees.
5. If there is systemic failures within your company that have gone addressed for any significant duration, they will likely remain in place after implementing the processes in this book. This book exists simply to help you feel better that you "did something", much like any self help book.

This book is very similar to From Good to Great and is in fact referenced in this book. From Good to Great was, in its time was lauded as the self-help book for business leaders. From Good to Great recommended 11 companies business models as the absolute pinnacle of success for everyone to hold in high esteem. These were to be the companies that shifted from being just good enough (level 4) to great (level 5). Three of the companies that were listed are clearly not great: Wells Fargo (TARP bailout), Fannie Mae, and Circuit City. Of the 8 remaining companies only one outperformed the S&P 500 average. Beware of a self help book which references another self help book that demonstrated bad advice.
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on January 13, 2011
I liked it. The book is well organized and does a nice job of expounding on its points. As I read it another book from 2007 came to mind: No Man's Land: What to Do When Your Company Is Too Big to Be Small but Too Small to Be Big. Both books are written for the small business owner who has gotten his company to a certain level, but things are not growing or moving forward. The book has an Intro and nine chapters as follows:

0. Introduction
1. The "Entrepreneurial Operating System"
2. Letting go of the vine
3. The vision component
4. The people component
5. The data component
6. The issues component
7. The process component
8. The traction component
9. Pulling it all together

The book basically is a discussion of a diagram the author calls the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) which consists of six components discussed in chapters three through eight. As I say above, I found the organization of the book to be good. However, I did not find the organization of the EOS to be particularly sound. Not too long ago I read and reviewed Be Bodacious: Put Life in Your Leadership which I thought would have been better written if it had promoted the following leadership system: (1) Dream, (2) Strategize, (3) Take Action, & (4) Persist. The vision component in EOS is comparable to the dream component, and the traction component in EOS is comparable to the take action component. So, in my humble opinion, the EOS is missing two components at a minimum: (2) strategize & (4) persist.

I found the discussions regarding the issues component and the data component to be very well done. I also liked the discussions regarding people and process. However, I was wondering about three more components that seemed relevant to me, but were missing: business models, finance, and marketing. It is so much easier to strategize productively regarding your business if you dissect the business model it uses to exist. Financing considerations are always important when it comes to business, and it is naïve to talk about taking your company to a new level without considering finance in a big way, i.e., devote a chapter and a component to it. Lastly, a business without marketing will probably not last long as a business. So there should have been a chapter and component devoted to it, too.

The author claims in his Introduction that he is putting a new slant on strategic planning for the small business. I agree he certainly has created the EOS which I have never seen in print before. However, the underlying principles discussed in this book have been around for a long time. This book could be tagged as the following: business strategy, project management, problem solving, or leadership. And many books on these subjects have existed prior to 2007. See The Complete Idiot's Guide to Project Management, 3rd Edition,Bare Bones Project Management: What you can't not do, and Scrappy Project Management: The 12 Predictable and Avoidable Pitfalls Every Project Faces.

Other books that might be of interest to the reader are: Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management (Theory in Practice),The Fast Forward MBA in Project Management (Portable Mba Series),Ultimate Breakthrough Planning: The Business Funnel Approach,Run Your Business Like a Fortune 100: 7 Principles for Boosting PROFITS, and Being Strategic: Plan for Success; Out-think Your Competitors; Stay Ahead of Change. 4 stars!
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As I began to read this book, I was reminded of a book co-authored by Chip and Dan Heath in which they explain why a few ideas "stick" but most don't. It can also be said about business initiatives in that some have "traction" but most don't. That is Gino Wickman's core thesis. As he explains, most entrepreneurs experience one or (probably) more of five common frustrations: lack of control, underperforming workers, insufficient (if any) profits, limited growth potential, and dysfunctional operations. In a phrase, they can't "get a grip" on their business. What they need is what Wickman characterizes as a "holistic, self-sustaining system that addresses the six aspects of a business": Vision, People, Data, Issues, Process, and Traction. What he offers is the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) that, if "mastered" (i.e. installed and then maintained properly), will enable business leaders to integrate the six components of their business "into a powerful framework that will help [them] gain traction and realize the vision [they've] always had for [their] company."

In addition to a "Summary" of key points at the conclusion of Chapters 3-8, here's what caught my eye:

o An "Organizational Checkup" that enables each reader to complete an audit of the its strength in terms of each of the six components and related activities (Pages 10-12)

o The Vision/Traction Organizer (V/TO) used by leaders to sharpen focus on what is most important (Pages 4, 31-75)

o The "Ten Commandments of Solving Issues" (Pages 141-144)

o Documentation of core processes (Pages 151-161)

o "Organizational Checkup" (Pages 204-206) that enables leaders to gain at least some measurement of what has been accomplished since the first "Organizational Checkup" (Pages 10-12)

Presumably Wickman would be the first to suggest that it would be a fool's errand for any reader to attempt to apply everything that recommended in his book. However, he would insist (and I wholly agree) that an organization should have only one operating system, albeit one that is flexible, resilient, and (yes) durable as well as comprehensive, cohesive, and cost-effective.

For some organizations, the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) - after appropriate modification - will be a significant improvement over how they have operated until now. For other organizations, the EOS offers some attractive possibilities for strengthening even more an operating system now in place and functioning well. Kaizen (i.e. continuous improvement) is a process, not a destination. What Gino Wickman has learned and so generously shares in this book can be of substantial value to almost all business leaders in almost all organizations for whom continuous improvement is more than a laminated affirmation on a wall; it is a way of achieving operational excellence at all levels and in all areas.
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on November 4, 2014
So I have been in business some 16 years. I am an expert in my field and even on the bleeding edge of the field over the last few years. I have no formal business education so I studied for years at the school of hard-knocks to get my MBA. I've read every book I could get my hand on. I applied as much as I could, but my business struggled to grow to the size I wanted and needed in order to do the level of business I wanted to do.

I've read most of Michael Gerber's book based on the E-myth concept which I was certainly in. So for 5 to 10 years I worked on the business instead of in it. The big takeaway from all the E-myth books and even several E-myth Worldwide training I did. However as much as I understood the importance of processes and delegating and managing better I still struggled.

Then I had a friend recommend I read Traction and the partner book Get A Grip. WOW! This stuff really made it all click. The years of business study are all now being applied in a simple and manageable way. In the first 30 days of being introduced to Traction, I read it, listened to the audio version twice and read Get A Grip and listened to half of the audio version currently. On top of that I started applying the strategy to my business.

I have never been more focused and more clear about how to hit the big future goals I am going after. I know that over the next 50ish days (of Q4 year end) we will have this system up and running and my business will be in a place it has never been before… accurately predicting future projections, solving real problems and issues forever and growing at pace that we've never experienced before.

I've read Good To Great a few times and you know really struggled with figuring out how a small business like mine could define and create the "right seats" so that we would understand how to attract and keep the "right people" in those seats. Although I didn't get this from Jim Collins book, the theory made sense. Implementation on the other hand was the challenge. Traction took the theory of Good To Great and made it applicable for me.

Now granted I also am now working with EOS Worldwide to roll-out these strategies faster, but that is the thing… Traction is all about application. The book is titled Traction for a reason, reading opens your eye to more than just business theory, it also delivers the tools you need to get traction. At least for my company it seems to be. I have only been at this for 30-40 days and things are sick. I mean we are seriously getting TRACTION! I can't wait to see where we are at in 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 3 years, and 10 years. At this rate the future is looking pretty darn bright.

If you are a small business owner or small CEO that is frustrated with your company and feels like you've done it all and wasted a ton of cash and time trying every business theory and concept that came along and have little to show for it, then you may want to read Traction. This is the best damn business book I have read EVER! Only because it is real world and it give you more then theory, it actually gives you the tools you need to run and manage your business, your people, your clients, your profits and even your personal life (if you're working like a dog and missing family time, this book will help you get control of your personal life as well)! I highly recommend this book to anyone running a business that feels out of control.
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on December 11, 2015
When a CEO and client of mine said, "Hey Kristin, you absolutely must read this book," I immediately ordered my copy on Amazon. I flipped through the pages and saw an assessment/checklist right at the beginning along with a visual model called the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS). I then started reading and I was hooked.
It's simple and practical advice to grow a small business into a big business, without too many Dilbert words or crazy ideas. The principles, system and tools are based on sound business practices that are simple (but not easy!) to implement. It kind of reminds me of Verne Harnish's Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It...and Why the Rest Don't (Rockefeller Habits 2.0), but this book feels more chatty and less intimidating.
I particularly enjoyed Chapters 2-3 which talks about building a true leadership team and the vision it will take to grow the company. Just taking your leadership team through these two chapters and having a frank, robust discussion about the topics and questions sounds like it would be well-worth the investment of time and energy.
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on December 31, 2015
For Entreprenuers/Business Owners looking for a system to solve business issues. This is IT.
Though there are plenty of other systems, Rockefeller habits, etc. this one is simpler and more broad.

Book outlines the process and examples very well.
Implementer tend to have already walked/used the process in their own lives/business and have first-hand experience that I haven't seen with other 'program's 'consultants'.

It's unlikely you'll need another set of guidelines once you implement Traction...learn it/run it/do it. and repeat!
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on August 7, 2016
Let this serve as an overview of two Gino Wickman books:

TRACTION: Get a Grip on Your Business

Get a Grip
The first book really dives into the details of how Wickman's model of the Entrepreneurial Operations System (EOS), which provides a set of tools and framework for building a business. The second book is a novel based around a fictional company which adopts this model.

If you clearly comprehend Traction, then Get a Grip doesn't offer much value, other than illustrating practical examples of how one could implement his system.

Does it offer value?

Within the first 60 pages of Traction, I was sold. It answered a number of questions I had lingering about my current role at work, and how to answer them. Notably, how do I get everyone on the same page, and how do we create a vision that will actually work?

Once you get past the first 80 pages, the book turns towards the people side of an organization, which wasn't relevant to my current priorities, so I didn’t find as much value there.

In those first pages however, I received more than enough value to cover my time I spent reading the book. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, or just someone in Corporate America trying to get a team on the same page, I'm confident you'll find this worth your while in the first few chapters alone.

Additional Info

Wickman also offers a number of free tools (.pdf and .doc) on his website, which are outlined in the book and used heavily within the book. The Vision/Traction Organize (V/TO) is his tool for simplifying the strategic planning process, getting your vision out of your head and onto paper by answering eight questions to illustrate where your organization is going and how you will get there. I actually found this to be extremely useful and filled it out shortly after reading.

I found a fantastic outline of the book in .pdf form, so take a look at that, and consider purchasing the book if you'd like to dive deeper.

Are there other books around entrepreneurship, finance, or economics that I should be reading? Best way to reach me is on Twitter, @DaveVoyles.
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on November 24, 2015
DISCLAIMER: I'm an EOS Certified Implementer. That said, I'm also an entrepreneur responsible for growing a business in a predictable and profitable manner. There are 1000's of ideas on the market on how to build a successful business. There is nothing new about Traction; the ideas have been around for years. What's different, and most powerful, is how they are organized into a simple, clear and highly effective sequence (or process) that allows you to use them more effectively than you would otherwise. If you own and/or operate a business with 10-250 people, this is a must read for you.
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on November 20, 2015
Traction is incredible in its simplicity. The tools and process laid out in this book are essential for EVERY entrepreneurial business to embrace on their journey of growing their business. I only wish I knew about this book while running my family business - it would have helped us to generate even better results in much less time. I highly recommend this book for any entrepreneurial business leader. The EOS Tools work incredibly well for teams that are growth oriented and have an open mind. I've personally helped over 40 organizations implement these tools and the results and impact on the organization are amazing. Traction is the essential "How To" manual to getting what you want from your business.
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