Summary Written by Chris Taylor
"As Henry Ford said, 'Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it.'"

- Traction, page 215

The Big Idea

Less is More

"Henry David Thoreau: 'Simplify, simplify.' Ralph Waldo Emerson: 'One 'simplify' would have sufficed.'"- Traction page 20

As business leaders, it’s easy to overcomplicate things. To over commit. We want to launch the new product, hire the new person and implement the new system. Today. We want to build in contingencies for everything, and (particularly if we’re the visionary in the company) we want to share all of our ideas, all at once. We want to do it all, right now.

Welcome to the classic “enthusiasm trap” of the entrepreneurial leader. Trying to operate at 120% capacity at all times leads to staff frustration, communication breakdown and personal burnout. Wickman, through his work with over 100 clients in 800 sessions, has proven that when it comes to moving your business forward, less truly is more.

Insight #1

Can I have your number?

"The ability to create accountability and discipline, and then execute is the area of greatest weakness in most organizations."- Traction, page 165

One of the reasons Wickman pushes for simplification and clarity is that they reduce any chance of ambiguity; of people shirking responsibility under the justifiable, “I didn’t know it was that important” excuse. Simplification, by definition, reduces the number of priorities, clarifying for everyone in the organization the most important deliverables for which they are responsible.

Wickman suggests taking it one step forward, giving everyone “a number” as a part of their job description. 10 sales calls a week. 98% up time on the line. 8/10 customer satisfaction. Etc. When you give people (and yourself) numbers, you make it infinitely easier to determine if the job is being done to a satisfactory level. You make it easier to identify challenges, unrealistic expectations and capacity shortages. You can—in black and white—see how well you’re tracking to your goals. And, perhaps most importantly, you’re prioritizing the activities of a role or project. (Depending on your role, you may have 1-3 “numbers”, but watch for anything higher than that… as a whole organization/unit, you really shouldn’t be tracking more than 10-15, total.)

What are the most important numbers for your organization/department/role? Who owns them and how are you tracking them? Having a regular check in period (weekly/monthly/quarterly) is as important for accountability as having the numbers in the first place.

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Insight #2

Too much of a good thing

"More is lost by indecision than by wrong decisions."- Traction, page 132

The focus of Traction is taking time out to think about your business; to plan and prioritize, so that the whole team is on the same page and moving in the right direction. It’s about stepping back from the day to day. And yet, as Wickman is quick to point out, planning is not the same as procrastinating. Once you have a clear set of objectives and a shared vision, take action. Try something. While it’s extremely unlikely that taking a single wrong action will sink your company, not taking any action almost surely will.

Block out time in your schedule for planning and reflection and protect that time ferociously. Then use the rest of your days to move the ball. Try things. Experiment and track. Revise and try again. And, above all else, have fun along the way.

Wickman included a short story at the end of Traction about “The Road to Hana”. The Road to Hana is a tourist attraction in Maui; an attraction that consists of a long winding road, shouldered by breathtaking views of all that Hawaii has to offer. Then the road ends in a small, non-descript town (Hana). The expression, “it’s about the journey, not the destination” was seemingly created to explain The Road to Hana… and the road to entrepreneurial greatness. Enjoy the ride.

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Gino Wickman

An entrepreneur since the age of 21, Gino Wickman has dedicated his life to learning what makes businesses thrive.

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