You Need a System! Here is what multiple systems recommend “in common” – (Measure What Matters, among others)

Each business needs a usable system: to plan for the future, to get all things done, and to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. This book provides such a system.
…You can only run your business on one operating system 

Gino Wickman, Traction: Get a Grip On Your Business


Measure What MattersLast week, I presented my synopsis of Measure What Matters by John Doerr to members of a leadership team at a law firm.  They, like all groups, are wrestling with this:  how do we work toward big objectives (goals; “rocks”), while engaged in the never-ending demands of day-to-day work?

This day-to-day work is called the “Whirlwind” in the book The 4 Disciplines of Execution.  And, it does indeed feel like a whirlwind, doesn’t it?

For this group, I prepared a sheet that noted what many such “systems” books recommend in common: similar steps and elements.  I have reduced these to a list, with a brief bibliography. Here is what I listed: 


  • Assuming clear values…
  • What all of the “competing” systems have in common:

#1 – A call for a “big picture target(s)”
#2 – Agreement on and commitment to: annual targets and shorter-term targets (maybe quarterly)
#3 – A way to measure progress toward the target(s); and then, actually measuring that progress
#4 – Regular meetings away – “big picture” meetings
#5 – Many, many, ongoing meetings along the way – progress meetings
#6 – Thorough, repetitive communication about progress toward the target(s)

Here are some of the books with such competing “systems”

Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs by John Doerr; Larry Page, (Foreword). Portfolio (April 24, 2018). 

Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman. BenBella Books. (April 3, 2012)Traction

Mastering the Rockefeller Habits: What You Must Do to Increase the Value of Your Growing Firm by Verne Harnish. 2002 — (updated with…) Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It…and Why the Rest Don’t (Rockefeller Habits 2.0) by Verne Harnish. 2014

The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals by Chris McChesney,Sean Covey, Jim Huling.Free Press. 2012

What about you and your organization?  Have you adopted a system?  Are you implementing it well?

Beware, the whirlwind will blow you off target so very easily.  Be diligent in implementing your chosen system.


One way to jump start your team is to bring me in for a book synopsis on one, or more, of these books.  Let me know if I could help.


I have written blog posts on most of these books.  Just type in the book title in the search box on this page to read my “lessons and takeaways” for most of these books.

One thought on “You Need a System! Here is what multiple systems recommend “in common” – (Measure What Matters, among others)

  1. Thomas Meyer

    Randy, it is amazing how few organizations clearly measure what matters and hold each employee accountable. The highest leverage in my experience as a Scaling Up Executive Business Coach is for each manager to have 3-5 Qtrly priorities and 2-3,measurable KPIs (key performance indicators) that they report on at least weekly as red, green, yellow. That gets consistent results accountability, and allows leadership to take correct action! It works!


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