As published in the Racine Journal Times – September 4, 2014

Now that it’s back to school time, children aren’t the only ones who should be thinking about learning. Whether you work for someone else or own your own business, enhancing your skills at work is a worthwhile endeavor. Ultimately, it’s our careers that are the engines of our financial success.

One of the most practical resources I found this past year is Gino Wickman’s book “Traction: Get a Grip Tractionon Your Business” which provides a framework for organizing a business as well as tools for making improvements in the way the business operates.

The basic premise of the book is comparing the function of your company to a computer’s operating system which provides a unified framework for connecting topics ranging from the ten-year vision to employee relationships. For instance, Wickman traces a company’s vision for success all the way to weekly team meetings where everyone has specific responsibilities.

Wickman also provides a number of distinctions that allow companies to identify issues or roadblocks that are inhibiting success. One chapter distinguishes the roles people fill within a company such as the “visionary” who is great at generating ideas versus the “integrator” whose expertise focuses on alignment between departments to make sure things are getting done. Recognizing the difference and importance for each role can prevent a lot of conflict as each role typically has radically different personality types.

Another common roadblock is meetings that veer off into tangents or unrelated topics. Wickman provides some tools for minimizing these types of disruptions while also holding everyone accountable. The goal isn’t to eliminate meetings but rather to make them more effective.

If you’re a manager within a larger organization or a small business owner, “Traction” provides enough tools for you to create a thriving organization that few companies achieve. Even if you’re not in a leadership role, equipping yourself with the tools to run an effective meeting or understanding the importance of a company’s culture will make you an invaluable resource.

100312_pencil_sharpenerBen Franklin was right when he said “an investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” Expanding your knowledge around how an organization can function at its best is a great start to sharpening your business pencil.

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