In our personal and professional lives good is the enemy of great.  We let good things crowd out great things.  We settle for good, and forego great.

Many of the entrepreneurial leadership teams I work with are initially in this category of settling for ‘good’ results as opposed to actually achieving ‘great’ results.  The vortex of their day-to-day activities has blinded them from being able to prioritize the most important activities that would take their business from good to great.  Yes, you have to get your day-to-day activities done – it’s your job – but to truly move the needle for the company, everyone has to become expert Rock crushers!


Greatness doesn’t just happen – greatness needs to be prioritized

To help companies go from good to great by prioritizing their most important activities every quarter, EOS® introduces teams to the concept of “Rocks”.

Author the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey, popularized the analogy of Rocks as the priorities we must schedule first – otherwise they won’t get in our schedule and they won’t get done.  If we fill our time with the ‘pebbles’, ‘sand’, and ‘water’ of lesser priorities our days, weeks and quarter will be spent on day-to-day busy work and routine tasks, and the Rocks won’t fit in to our finite amount of time, energy and focus.  Only by identifying and consistently working on our priorities, the Rocks, are we be able to go from good to great.


Like most valuable ideas, Rocks are easy to understand, but harder to live out.  Leadership teams will become better at Rock setting and completion – but only if they commit to becoming better over time.


Here are the pieces of advice I give leadership teams to become better at accomplishing their quarterly Rocks.


How to achieve greatness through quarterly Rocks

  1. Rock Selection – Rocks need to be selected after reviewing the prior quarter, reviewing the company’s vision through their V/TO™, smoking out all issues, and thoughtfully reflecting and discussing as a team the few priorities that must be completed at the over the next quarter.
  2. Write Rocks “SMART” – the person accountable for the completion of a given Rock needs to be able to articulate a concise objective statement that captures what the Rock is intending to accomplish that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.
  3. Work “On” the Business – generally, Rocks should be tied more to working “on” versus “in” the business. For instance, getting a certain client project done is really about working “in” the business and shouldn’t be a Rock.  Whereas documenting the Core Process to consistently accomplish a key process in client work is a great Rock candidate.
  4. Confirm the Rocks – at the Level 10 Meeting™ following the quarterly session, confirm the Rocks and improve the “SMART-ness” of the Rocks as appropriate.
  5. Rock Milestone Plan – Rock owners should work up a simple one to two-page plan that clarifies the objectives & deliverables of the Rock, who is doing what by when, and any budgetary needs. At the weekly Level 10 Meeting™, Rocks owners should assess whether they are “on” or “off” track relative to their Rock Plan, as the milestones in the Rock plan should be tied to the dates of the team’s Level 10 meetings.
  6. Rock Team – for Rocks that are bigger in scope, formalize a Rock Team that will collectively work to complete the Rock.
  7. Completion or Milestone Rock? – distinguish between a “completion” Rock that will be 100% complete at the Rock due date, versus a “milestone” Rock where something short of 100% of the work will be done this quarter, with the rest of the work spilling over to the subsequent quarter.
  8. Gauge Progress – At every Level 10 Meeting™ for the quarter, have each Rock owner read their Rock, and simply say during the Rock review portion of the meeting “on track” or “off track” relative to their Rock Plan. Keep a running record of the “on” or “off” track to quickly assess progress over the quarter.
  9. Discuss & Solve Off-Track Rocks – Rock owners should preemptively drop their off-track Rock down to the IDS™ portion of a Level 10 Meeting™. Team members should not shy away from a healthy amount of “trust but verify” by asking to IDS™ any of their colleagues off-track Rocks.
  10. Resist Adding Rocks Mid-Quarter – early on, some teams make issues into Rocks mid-way through a quarter. Better is when teams predict at the beginning of the quarter, by taking intentional time out to assess and plan, their most important priorities for the quarter.  Adding Rocks mid-quarter is a bad habit and should be broken.
  11. Presentation of Completed Rocks – build in to the Rock Plan how, when and to whom the completed Rock needs to be presented before the due date.
  12. Celebrate – give praise and recognition for the hard work of your colleagues when they complete their Rocks.
  13. Continually Learn & Improve – at each Quarterly session take time to learn lessons from the past quarter’s Rock setting and completion cycle. Were they the right Rocks?  The right amount?  Distributed appropriately amongst the team?  The right objectives?  Did the Rocks move the business forward?  What lessons do we need to take into next quarter’s Rock setting & completion?
  14. Cascade & Align the Rock Setting Process Company-Wide – The Leadership Team sets the highest level Rocks for the Quarter ahead.  The company-level Rocks are then shared with the Departmental leaders who facilitate their team through Departmental Rock setting to align with and support as appropriate the company-level Rocks.  Individuals then establish personal Rocks.  All Rocks are due at the date of the next leadership team Quarterly Session.


So What?

  • Is your company’s culture one that has unintentionally settled for ‘good’ performance at the expense of ‘great’ performance? Would your business be better if everyone was setting and crushing their Rocks quarterly?


Next Steps

  • Visit and schedule a call with Tom Barrett to discuss how implementing EOS® would allow you to get what you want from your business.

About The Author

Tom Barrett is a Nashville-based Certified EOS Implementer™ and focuses on implementing EOS® with growth minded entrepreneurial businesses helping them to Clarify, Simplify & Achieve their Vision.


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