As a Fractional Integrator™, one of my key roles is to help my clients translate their long-term visions into actionable goals. Recently, I facilitated my client's company's annual planning meeting. Together, we determined the top company-level goals for the upcoming year. During the meeting, our leadership team plotted their committed priorities (ROCKS) for the next 90 days.™
What are quarterly ROCKS, you ask?
According to the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS®), which my client runs her company on, ROCKS are the 3-5, potentially 6, most crucial tasks the leadership team must complete in the next 90 days to align with the company’s annual objectives.
Simply put, a ROCK is a priority that will require more than a week but, at most, 90 days to complete. Other actions, such as smaller tasks and decisions, are assigned to the team’s to-do list in their project management tool to be completed.
The name ROCKS comes from Stephen Covey's book “First Things First.” His book explains the time management story of filling a jar with rocks, pebbles, sand, and water. If you begin by filling the jar with water and sand (small issues and daily tasks), you won’t have room for the rocks (big priorities). However, if you start by placing the rocks first, you can then fit in the pebbles, sand, and water around them. The order matters.
In business terms, this means if you focus on your biggest priorities first (Rocks), you'll be able to fit in the other tasks and responsibilities around them.
How does the quarterly Rock concept apply to your business?
Imagine the jar as your team's working hours, and the ROCKS represent the priorities that your team needs to accomplish in the next 90 days. The pebbles are weekly tasks that must be accomplished to ensure the team stays on track to reach their 90-day commitment. And the water and sand symbolize the day-to-day duties, responsibilities, and disruptions that can soak up your team’s time and energy. This includes dealing with issues as they arise and taking care of their everyday responsibilities necessary for business operations.
If your team fails to prioritize their quarterly ROCKS, which means putting them in their jars first, then the water and sand (their daily tasks and interruptions) could overwhelm them and quickly fill their jars. This means there will be no room left to complete their ROCKS, which means they won’t progress on the larger company goals.
“Putting first things first means organizing and executing around your most important priorities. It is living and being driven by the principles you value most, not by the agendas and forces surrounding you.
Dr. Stephen R. Covey
There are three types of Rocks:
Ideally, the individual ROCKS roll up to the departmental ROCKS (supporting departmental objectives), which roll up to the company ROCKS (the overarching company goals.)
Here’s An Example Of These Three Rocks In Action
Recently, I facilitated a 2-Day Annual Planning session with a client and her senior leadership team. After thorough discussions, we settled on six Company ROCKS for the upcoming year.
One of the Company ROCKS we agreed on was increasing top-line revenue by 40% in the coming year. We knew this high-level strategic ROCK would require time, energy, and resources from multiple departments, such as Sales, Marketing, Operations, and Finance.
In our subsequent 90-Day ROCK Planning session, the Senior Leadership Team committed to a Departmental ROCK: increasing revenue by 10% each quarter. This was to ensure we achieved a 40% boost in top-line revenue (our Company ROCK) by year's end.
Since Departmental ROCKS must be completed within 90 days, the Senior Leadership Team had to break their goal of increasing revenue by 10% each quarter into easily digestible projects with clear deliverables and timelines they could assign to the team. They did this by assigning Individual ROCKS, which included specific, actionable steps individuals on their teams would need to take to complete the Departmental ROCK.
In my role as the Integrator™ for my client’s business, I collaborated extensively with both the Senior Leadership and Execution teams. Our primary focus was understanding how Company, Departmental, and Individual ROCKS (priorities) would work together to move the company's objectives forward.
Why quarterly ROCKS Rock
The practice of setting quarterly goals, or "ROCKS," is rooted in understanding time, motivation, and organizational coherence. Let's explore why these quarterly ROCKS are effective and essential.
Ninety days strikes a perfect balance. It's ample time to work diligently on a priority but not so elongated that it becomes mundane. When a ROCK stretches beyond this window without any tangible change, it's common for teams to lose their motivation and focus.
Sync with Business Metrics:
Most businesses operate in quarters, gauging their success and planning their next moves based on quarterly results. Aligning ROCKS with this natural business rhythm only makes sense, and ensures everyone can keep ROCKS fresh and top of mind for the quarter.
Breaking priorities down into 90-day ROCKS provides momentum throughout the year. When an annual Company ROCK is spread over four quarters, achieving the first quarter’s ROCK can galvanize the team. Tangible progress toward achieving the bigger goal will encourage and fuel the team to keep surging forward.
Unified Focus with the 90-Day World®:
Having quarterly ROCKS establishes what EOS® calls the 90-Day World®. Often in business, different departments operate in isolated silos, each chasing their own goals. The 90-Day World® concept by EOS® acts as a synchronizer. With everyone aligned on specific, short-term objectives, it eliminates the chances of departments drifting off into different directions. Similar to a team rowing a boat, when each member rows in the same direction, the boat moves forward swiftly and efficiently.
The Role of the Fractional Integrator™ in Managing ROCKS
Navigating the intricacies of ROCKS requires direction, oversight, and unyielding commitment – attributes that are synonymous with the role of an Integrator™.
As a Fractional Integrator™, my duty within my client's business is two-fold:
The mantra that resonates with my role is simple yet profound: "the buck stops here." From the inception of ROCKS to their fruition, I'm the guardian of their journey. To keep our objectives on track, I regularly check the pulse of our ROCKS' progress in our weekly L10 Meetings™.
Additionally, my quarterly conversation meetings with each of my direct reports allow for a deeper dive. Here, we discuss the intricacies, address challenges, and recalibrate strategies to ensure that our ROCKS remain not just stones but stepping stones toward our greater objectives.
In the vast expanse of business strategies, the Integrator™ stands as the sentinel, ensuring that ROCKS, our pivotal objectives, are set, pursued, and achieved.
Need a Navigator for Your ROCKS Journey?
Taking a business to new heights requires more than just setting goals; it's about meticulously managing, tracking, and achieving them. As you've seen, ROCKS aren't just any objectives – they're the backbone of your strategic vision, and their effective management can be the differentiating factor between stagnation and exponential growth.
As a Fractional Integrator™, my mission is to assist visionary entrepreneurs like you in bridging the gap between grand visions and practical execution. I'm well-acquainted with the intricacies and nuances of the EOS® framework and have a proven track record of making ROCKS more than just goals – turning them into tangible business victories.
If you're leveraging EOS® and are already working with an EOS® Implementer™ or have graduated, and you're eager to harness the power of the ROCKS framework for unparalleled growth, it's time we took the next step.
Let's connect and craft a strategy that turns your business aspirations into achievements. Book a call with me today.