Fractional Integrator Services | Virtual COO | Brenda Violette
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Business Planning

What Are Quarterly Rocks in Business?

A few weeks ago, I facilitated my client’s company annual planning meeting. She and I had determined in advance what the top five company-level goals would be for 2021. During the meeting, our leadership team plotted their committed priorities (Rocks) for the next 90 days.

What are quarterly Rocks, you ask?

Quarterly Rocks

According to the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS®) that my client and I run her company on, Rocks are the 3-5, maybe 6 most important things your leadership team must accomplish in the next 90 days to move toward the company’s annual goals.

A Rock is simply a priority that will take more than 7 days and up to 90 days to accomplish. Other actions, such as tasks and decisions, are assigned to your to-do list in your project management tool to be completed.     

The concept of Rocks comes from Stephen Covey in his book, First Things First. You may have already heard or seen this story. First, take a glass jar and a pile of rocks, pebbles, and sand. Second, try to fit everything in the jar. Typically, most people put in the sand and pebbles first and then try to add the rocks. They soon realize that won’t work. Either there’s no room for the rocks, or they’ll overflow the jar.

Rocks, Pebbles, Sand Story

How does the quarterly Rock concept apply to your business? 

In business, the jar is the team’s workday or work week, and the Rocks are the priorities that need to be accomplished in the next 90 days. The pebbles are weekly tasks we want to accomplish to ensure we’re staying on track to reach the 90-day commitment. Finally, the sand is the day-to-day responsibilities, the  “other stuff”, including interruptions, meetings, other departmental tasks, phone calls, and emails.

Hence, if your team doesn’t prioritize the quarterly Rocks and put them in their jars first, the sand may fill the jars before they have a chance to add anything else. No Rocks completed means no moving forward on 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:

  • Company Rocks
  • Departmental Rocks
  • Individual Rocks

Ideally, the individual Rocks roll up to the departmental Rocks, which roll up to the company Rocks.

Here's an Example of a Company Rock

In December this year, I facilitated a 2-Day Annual Planning with a client and her senior leadership team.  My client and I thoroughly discussed and arrived at 6 company rocks for 2021 in advance of the planning meeting. One of our company Rocks is to increase top-line revenue by 40% for 2021. This high-level strategic Rock will require time, energy, and resources from multiple departments, such as Sales, Marketing, Operations, and Finance.


In the 90-Day Rock Planning session of the annual meeting, our SLT (Senior Leadership Team) committed to a departmental Rock that will increase revenue by 10% in each quarter, so that the 40% increase in top-line revenue will be accomplished in the 4Q2021. 


Since quarterly goals are due in 90 days, the SLT will break the larger project down into easily digestible projects with clear deliverables and timelines.

The SLT will determine the specific steps individuals on their teams will take to complete the departmental Rocks.  

In the role of Integrator for my client’s business, I spend a lot of time with our Senior Leadership and Execution teams covering how the company, departmental, and individuals’ Rocks (priorities) work together to move the company objectives forward.

Why quarterly Rocks?

Rocks are set every 90 days for several reasons. First, 90 days is a manageable chunk of time to work on a Rock. If a project or Rock goes on for longer than 90 days, unchanged, people tend to lose motivation and focus.

Second, businesses typically measure progress quarterly, so it makes sense for Rocks to coincide with quarters. Everyone can keep Rocks fresh and top of mind for a quarter.

Third, breaking priorities down into 90-day Rocks provides momentum. If you have a Rock that will spread out over three quarters, success with the first quarterly Rock keeps the team motivated, seeing progress, and ready to keep moving forward.

Fourth, having quarterly Rocks establishes what EOS® calls the 90-Day World®. Often, one department is focused on A, F, and H while another department is focused on P, R, and Z. With Rocks, everyone works on A, B, C, and D for 90 days, almost as if they’re in a bubble. One department may have responsibility for B and C, while another might be working on C and D. Consequently, everyone is rowing together in the same direction for that 90 days.
As an Integrator in my clients' business, I am responsible not only for completing my own Rocks but also responsible for the leadership team completing at least 80% of their Rocks. As the saying goes, the buck stops with the Integrator (me), from the creation of Rocks through achievement. For example, I will ensure everyone has appropriate and achievable Rocks. Also, I am accountable for making sure the Rocks are on track during our weekly leadership meetings and quarterly conversation meetings with each of my direct reports.

What do you think of the quarterly Rocks concept?

Is it something you’d like to explore further with me and implement in your business? If so, click on the button below to shoot me a quick email.

About the Author Brenda Violette, Fractional Integrator

Brenda Violette is the founder and CEO of Violette Business Services, LLC an online business and operations management company serving visionary women entrepreneurs since 2008. Brenda’s core service offering is Fractional Integrator, often called a Virtual COO in the online entrepreneurial space. If you are familiar with the book Rocket Fuel by Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters, you will recognize the roles of Visionary and Integrator. The V/I Duo. Some Integrators like Brenda, work with online businesses that need the expertise of an Integrator but are not yet ready to hire a full-time Integrator. She partners with women CEOs generating early million-dollar organizations while sitting in the Visionary seat of the company and running their online service-based company on EOS®. The Entrepreneurial Operating System® has become more and more popular in the marketplace. And Brenda loves it because it is a simple and straightforward framework for creating traction and growth for her clients. In the role of Integrator, it is her job to drive the model. She is passionate about helping entrepreneurial women grow and scale their purpose-driven service-based companies. To learn more about how a Fractional Integrator can help you create big growth and sustainability visit www.BrendaViolette.com.

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