Picking The Perfect Rocks

I love rocks. I have always loved rocks. As a kid, I spent countless hours climbing on the cliffs and rock falls close to my house. My first job, during high school and college summers, was working for a Japanese landscape designer and builder. One of my fellow employees was an Italian stonemason who taught me the skills of cutting stone and building stone drywalls. From my boss, I learned the art of placing boulders properly.

For those of you wondering what ‘placing boulders properly’ means, every stone has a top and a bottom, a front and a back. The skill I learned was how to figure out which is which and then place the boulder in exactly the right position in exactly the right place. In this way, the boulder would transform from a rock to something that would catch your attention, stop you in your tracks, and lead to thoughtful contemplation.

Or as Edward Weston, the famous photographer, said: “This then, to photograph a rock, have it look like a rock, but be more than a rock.”

Learning to correctly place boulders and build stone walls…perfect training for improving your leadership and management skills. Let me explain.

Many companies operate on a quarterly cycle. Ninety days also turns out to be the perfect length of time for completing those few things that are the most critical for future success and for achieving your long-term vision.

The problem for most leadership teams is separating those few critical things from the myriad of other things that need to be done. Often this leads to dealing with the minor at the expense of the critical. Or dealing with the symptoms at the expense of the root causes. So the company flounders as its leaders wonder what secret others possess that enables them to race forward so successfully.

The secret? Rocks.

In the world of EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System: an integrated system for running your company more effectively), the most critical things needing to be completed in the next 90-day cycle are called rocks. They are often hidden among numerous other things yelling for attention, but successful leadership teams learn how to ignore the noise, rummage through the pile, and choose the most important specimens. The rocks that represent the most critical stepping stones toward company success.

And once they find them, they know how to look at them from all sides, and figure out the perfect way to handle them and measure them. They’re able to define the metrics that need to be totally achieved when Day 90 rolls around, and the path to accomplish this. They can then move on to the next cycle as they continue to build a strong company always focused on the most important factors for success.

It’s not easy to find these most critical things. It’s not easy to prioritize when there are so many tasks to complete. It’s not easy to place the rocks perfectly.

But once you learn how to do this, you will see exceptional results..

I have never forgotten the compliments I received for the first Japanese garden for which I placed all the main rocks myself. And I think of them often as I guide leadership teams in the process of learning to choose the perfect rocks for the next 90 days, and once they successfully deal with them, for the next 90. I’ve noticed these clients all have the smile I had that day long ago.



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