Managing Your Rocks

Managing Your Rocks

It’s no secret that successful businesses operate with a clear vision shared by everyone.  They identify and solve issues promptly in an open and honest environment.  But how do you keep everyone focused, aligned and communicating well?

Most businesses are pretty good at business planning for the year, but few focus their vision all the way down to what really matters: the next 90 days.  Instead, organisations tend to enter each quarter battling on all fronts, making everything a priority and accomplishing very little.  By setting crystal clear priorities- also known as “Rocks”- every quarter as a team, you gain considerably more focus and traction to reach your goals.

The term “Rock” came from an analogy spotted by Verne Harnish, author of Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, in Stephen Covey’s book First Things First.  Picture a glass cylinder set on the table.  Next to the cylinder are rocks, pebbles, sand and a glass of water.  Image that the glass cylinder is all of the time that you have during a working day.  The rocks represent your main priorities, the pebbles represents your day-to-day responsibilities, the sand is interruptions and the water is everything else that happens during your day.  If you, as most people do, pour the water in first, the sand in second, the pebbles in third, and the rocks last – the rocks won’t fit.  That’s your typical workday.

If you do the reverse and prioritise working on the big stuff first – put the rocks in, next add the pebbles, then the sand, and finally pour the water in.  Everything fits in the glass cylinder perfectly.  Therefore, if you work on your biggest priorities – your Rocks – first, everything else falls into place.

Quarterly Rocks create a 90-day world for your organisation, a powerful concept that enables you to gain tremendous traction.  How does this work?  Every 90 days your leadership team comes together to establish the main three to seven company priorities for the next 90 days based on your plan.  You discuss and ultimately agree what has to be done in the next quarter to put you on track for your annual plan.  In a growing company, it’s normal to battle for resources, time and attention and there is always tension.  But when you have finished setting your Rocks and the dust has settled, the leadership should be united on what key objectives take precedence in the coming quarter.  The focus of the Rocks is what makes this process so productive.  Rather than be overwhelmed by the monumental task of accomplishing your vision, this process allows you to focus everyone in the same direction and break the vision down into bite-sized achievable chunks.

The reason to limit Rocks to three to seven (preferably closer to three) is that you’re going to break the organisation of the habit of trying to focus on everything at once which simply can’t be done.  By limiting priorities, you can focus on what is more important.  With the increased intensity of focusing on a limited number of Rocks (ie doing less), your people will accomplish more.

The Entrepreneurial Operating System EOS® is a blueprint for building a growth focused company. If you own a business and are feeling frustrated, stuck or unhappy there are a number of steps you can take today.




We introduced our ISO Auditor to the EOS tools, he was literally blown away. His exact quote was:

“In all the years I’ve been dealing with businesses, I’ve never seen such a comprehensive set of tools.”

-Adrian Tolley, Production Director (Prime Group)


This article is based on the book Traction by Gino Wickman

Written by Dean Breyley, Grow or Die


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