Get A Grip, A Book Review

Get A Grip, A Book Review

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Being an entrepreneur is difficult. This is known and understood. Learning and implementing successful strategies to grow your business is imperative. In this book by Gino Wickman and Mike Patton, they create a scenario illustrating challenges found in successful companies. This includes understanding not only how to make smart decisions but also, understanding “Shiny Object Syndrome”.

You probably have a vague idea what “Shiny Object Syndrome” is, but we can clarify. It’s a work culture where it’s always about the next thing, and priority walks out the door 744 times per day.

Unfortunately, in the modern era, Shiny Object Syndrome is normative at most workplaces.

Why? In the simplest terms: the people who run companies these days are generally judged on growth. That seems to matter more than virtually anything else, including — often — actual profits. When you over-focus on growth, you are constantly in this zone where you need new ideas, because any new idea could theoretically become a revenue stream. This is a direct cousin of Shiny Object Syndrome.

Simple example: a company makes chairs. Good, sturdy, well-reviewed chairs. Suddenly, they’re making forks and spoons. That’s different than chairs, and their forks aren’t anything super awesome. Why are they making forks and diverting attention and resources from chairs? Because someone told them there was money in forks, and they chased it. But now, over time, the chairs will suffer a little bit. The core is weakened in an effort to hit some moving growth target. Shiny Object Syndrome.

Shiny Object Syndrome and irony with Jeff Weiner

Here is Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, speaking to Stanford Business School students. He talks about Shiny Object Syndrome here:

But companies that have defined their core value proposition sometimes move away from it when they experience what Weiner calls hyper growth. “They draw resources away from the core too quickly in pursuit of the next bright shiny object,” he says.

As a result, the company becomes vulnerable to competitors that go after its core: “And you’re in a position where you have to react to the competition now, and you have to draw resources away from that growth opportunity back to your core.” Not only does that dynamic damage a company’s market position, it makes employees feel stressed and “whipsawed,” Weiner says.

Yep.

Needing that core focus

In Get A Grip by Gino Wickman and Mike Paton, they follow a series of EOS-style meetings and focus days at Swan Services. One thing they discuss a lot in this particular book is losing focus and how even the best companies and executives will lose focus throughout a year — and in fact, comically when an executive brings that up, another executive immediately says “Sorry, what were we talking about?”

The reasons they discuss for losing focus:

  • Things are slow and you need that next big deal
  • Overconfidence
  • Boredom
  • Shiny Object Syndrome (defined above)

The answer is focusing on, well, your core focus. This has many different terms and names in different organizations and according to different leadership authors — for example, Jim Collins calls the same thing “hedgehog concept” and Dan Sullivan calls it a firm’s “unique ability.”

Whatever you call it, the core focus is what you root yourself to when you sense a loss in focus. It’s the bigger mission or vision of the place.

You can think of core focus as two ideas: “P/C/P,” or purpose/cause/passion, is one side of it. The other side is your niche. The niche is generally how you make money; Wickman sees it as the thing a company is “genetically encoded to do.” But the niche must align somewhat with the purpose, cause, and passion of the place — and the executives need to live it day-to-day, not just periodically mention it in meetings.

The value of Get a Grip

The highest value of this particular Wickman book is different strategies — and meeting styles — for making sure your people (and you) are aligned and focused around the main goals of your organization. A lot of books on focus and purpose operate almost exclusively at the 35,000-foot level, but this one gets to the nitty-gritty of how to run a meeting and even full dialogues between co-workers about the mission. Some of the conversations get tough and you get to see how they play out, which is also really helpful — how many times have you seen difficult conversations played out in a leadership book? (Hint: not as many as you should have, because they happen every day at work, and most books don’t even cover off on them.)

Learning these particular skills and strategies makes Get A Grip definitely worth a read if you’re looking for day-to-day, meeting-to-meeting approaches to maintaining focus and clarity. Ready to learn how to implement these approaches? Email us and let’s discuss how to maintain focus and clarity.