Do you think you have a ‘standard operating system’?

If I had to describe mine it would be a mixture of very direct, ordered and planned pathways to things that if you looked closer included a million mental detours and pivots…I actually start describing my skill set, personality traits and motivations because those show up all day every day. From the outside they can look rather non-sensical, chaotic even, but internally it’s always about me finding the most effective pathway to achieving what I need to.  

The version of these skills that actually show up each day and the way I ultilise them, can be different however. I can be going full steam ahead in my ‘best’ mode or in my ‘worst’ mode. I can be resting and reflecting in a powerful and productive way or I can look at things with despair and angst in those moments. 

Traction is a book that describes harnessing these things and inputting them into an operating system that you choose to commit to in order to see your company thrive. It might not always be what you feel like doing or what seems like the most logical thing at the time but it’s a proven way to get you and your business to where you want it to be. 

Here are some key points that jumped out at me as I read it: 

1. “When everything is important, nothing is important. Focus on a few goals rather than too many. By doing that you will actually accomplish more. That is the power of focus “

 Now I’m someone who loves doing lots of things at once! I know multitasking doesn’t work but I don’t enjoy just having one thing happening at a time. However, I am also a keen goal setter and I always make sure there is a small number of them because otherwise things will get forgotten or I will feel overwhelmed really quickly. Being a good steward of my time. energy and focus is important.  

2. “More is lost by indecision than by wrong decisions “

 What’s your experience of this? I would definitely be wary of making the ‘wrong’ decision, but I agree that making no decision is often more detrimental. There’s a place for slowing things down and taking our time to make wise choices, but there’s also always a benefit in keeping things moving forwards.  

3. “A poll of 23,000 employees in key industries revealed that 37% of employees didn’t understand their companies’ priorities. Only 1 in 5 was enthusiastic about their organisation’s goals and only 1 in 5 saw a clear connection between their tasks and their organisation’s goals.”

 Wow. It sounds concerning when you read it like this but I’m sure this is not rare situation. It’s so easy for communication to be lost along the way and for everyone to be working in silos. Having your people fully understand the vision, values, systems and their unique and important role in it all is key to keeping people in role and feeling like they have a purpose and some joy in their work. 

4. “Have you ever noticed that great leaders frequently credit their success to having ‘good people’? What the heck does that even mean?… it all comes down to getting the right people in the right seats… the right people are the ones who share your company’s core values. They fit and thrive in your culture.”

“The right seat means that each of your employees is operating within his or her area of greatest skill and passion inside your organisation and that the roles and responsibilities expected of each employee fit with his or her unique ability” 

Again, this is something that sounds obvious and vital in ensuring success but how often have we put people in the wrong seat, perhaps without realising, but then knowingly not doing anything about it for too long. Or, how many people have we knowingly put in the wrong seat because it felt like it was the best option at the time. This all eventually wastes us time and money as people don’t feel fulfilled or valued and productively plummets. 

5. “Anything that is measured and watched is improved”

I heard this in a business development course a while ago and thought ‘well that’s a no brainer’ but then it was expanded on. The person said: ‘if you are measuring things annually, then you can easily have a bad year. if you are measuring things monthly then you can have a lot of bad months. But if you are measuring things daily then you can have a bad day and it doesn’t feel so awful because tomorrow is another day to measure. You can have a good day. If you are waiting for the next good month it can feel like it’s taking a long time and get demoralising.


This is one of those books that I’m expecting to read time and again; to use as a reference and to include in coaching sessions with people if they want it. If you are running a business, I thoroughly recommend it. If you are running any kind of organisation that has teams or volunteers involved it’s still super helpful. Let’s get a grip on these things and do them with excellance.