“I help purpose-driven entrepreneurs kick more ass."
That’s been my unofficial tagline for the last 2 years.
(Unofficial because I’ve been too afraid to put “ass” on the front page of my website and use it when I introduce myself. But now it’s on the blog, so I guess this makes it official!)
And it’s true—my clients are already incredible kickers of ass. (Michelle, Tom, Becca, Dan, Stefanie, Dave, Adam, and all my prior partners in crime - I’m amazed by what you do!)
But since I’ve been doing this work, and working with ass-kickers, I’ve been continually surprised by one thing: without accountability, things fall apart.
Even incredibly talented, ass-kicking people fall short when there’s no one holding them accountable—myself included.
(Of course, you probably know this in your own life. When was the last time you committed to something but didn’t follow through because nobody was watching you? Last week? Yesterday? Today?)
A few weeks ago we learned about the power of accountability—why it matters, and what it can achieve.
Given its importance and need, I want to revisit the subject once more, but with more detail, so you can hopefully better understand how to create accountability in your own life.
The past year, I’ve been studying two different, proven, field-tested and field-forged accountability systems: The Four Disciplines of Execution (4DX) and The Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) found in Gino Wickman’s book Traction.
What’s fascinating are the similarities between these two systems, and yet their creators seemingly had no knowledge of each other. (And they use different language, so I really think the chances of copying are low.)
They seem to have independently converged on frameworks that are eerily similar to one another.
In 4DX, the system looks like this: Create a winnable game by setting an achievable finish line (goal), build a way to measure your progress towards it based on actionable, upstream measures. Then meet weekly with someone and follow up on what you said you would do.
In EOS, you set a 90-day goal, create a scorecard to measure your activity towards reaching that goal, then meet weekly with someone where you 1) see whether you’re on or off track towards achieving that goal and 2) report back on your previous week’s goal-related to-do.
Can you see the patterns? Both systems have you…
- Create a goal (land 3 new accounts by October 30th, for example)
- Measure your upstream actions towards the goal (make 10 phone calls and schedule 4 meetings per week)
- Check in weekly with someone, preferably a team member or someone else committed to the goal
- In the meeting, review your upstream actions and anything you agreed to accomplish last time, admit whether you’re on track or not, and if you’re not, design actions that will get you back
- Rinse and repeat until you have everything you want! (Hah!)
Deceptively simple, but incredibly powerful. (Especially if you’re a visionary/founder type personality whose not incredibly talented at focused execution.) (And, of course, there’s more nuance when you get into each system.)
When I first learned about these systems, I was unenthused. So what, that’s all you do? What’s so special about that?
But I stuck with it. And after working them and using them, I’ve begun to notice that I can’t really accomplish anything big and meaningful without some version of the system above.
I’ve come to believe that you can use this system to accomplish pretty much anything. I use it in my marriage, my business, and the rest of my life (Next up, Burning Man 2018!)
It’s not sexy, but nether is long-term, sustainable, incremental growth.
Let's look at your life, business, and goals...
Where could you use accountability but don't have any?
What's the cost of continuing without it?