Align Your Future with the Vision/Traction Organizer®
When setting a direction for your company, the old adage “less is more” certainly applies. The Entrepreneurial Operating System® uses the Vision/Traction Organizer (V/TO®) to powerfully simplify a vision that can be Shared By All.
Vision is the first component of the EOS Model®. It brings together The 8 Questions™ and is shared by all, giving a clear picture of where a company wants to go and how it will get there. Essentially, the V/TO is the fusion of visionary foresight with actionable plans.
The V/TO is a two-page strategic planning template that helps leadership team members sharpen their focus and strategy by answering eight questions. These questions are meant to be resolved as part of the EOS Process® during Vision Building® Day 1 and Day 2. (Pro tip: Take these meetings away from the office and all its distractions. A serene setting where you can truly reflect on these questions is best.)
This article will explore the purpose, components, and value of the V/TO, help leaders fully leverage its potential, and show how the tool levels up when it lives in Ninety, the only officially licensed software for EOS®.
What Is the Origin of the Vision/Traction Organizer?
In Gino Wickman’s book Traction©, he details the origins of the V/TO. The (very) short story goes like this: Gino’s business partner, Ed, once created a business plan that was longer than desired. So it was continuously shortened until it was distilled down to two pages. (A one-page effort was seen as nearly impossible in this particular instance.) The exercise — coupled with Ed’s later development of a simple business planning tool called the Life Business Management Plan — was an inspiration for what has become the V/TO in the EOS world.
The first page of the V/TO is all about strategy and being forward-focused, while the second page is about executing that strategy through clarity for this year, this quarter, and the issues that are in front of us. It all takes shape through a two-day strategy planning session held by the leadership team.
For those who are new to running EOS Powered by Ninety, the implementation session days for the V/TO exist inside the Ninety Meetings tool and can be followed similarly to a workflow. The end result of that exercise is a living document that can be viewed and Shared by All in Ninety no matter where they are.
"I point our entire national community of employees to Ninety and say, this is what the vision is. This is where we're going. This is what we've committed to this year. This is where we are this quarter. This is how we're growing. And this is where we’ll be in the next three to 10 years."
—Jennifer Zick, Founder and CEO of Authentic Brand
How the V/TO Simplifies Strategic Planning
It’s not that teams don’t have a vision; it’s a question of whether or not they’re aligned on one vision. I’ve coached teams that swear they’re aligned around a common vision. But when you ask them all to write it down without any group discussion, then go around the room and read what’s written, you quickly realize that while some of the high points are correct, most of what they share is less than directionally aligned.
The hard work of capturing, collaborating, and centralizing all of these critical elements in a V/TO is more effective with EOS Powered by Ninety. Rather than trying to record and preserve the output through various notes, programs, and other ad hoc or accidental business operating systems, they can now keep everything in one place with Ninety’s cloud-based platform. No matter what work you’re doing — or where you’re doing it — Ninety’s integrated software serves as the “source of truth” you can always reference and rely upon.
Want to see it in action? Have a look at how the V/TO comes to life using Ninety’s platform to power EOS.
Let’s now examine the eight questions that form the V/TO to understand how instrumental they are in fostering the alignment that shapes your vision. We’ll break the V/TO down to its two sections to get the best sense of how it comes to life.
Craft a Future Vision Everyone Buys Into
The first part of the V/TO is Vision. Here, you’ll take a long look at your values, focus, marketing strategy, and future plans by discussing and aligning on the following five questions:
1. What are your Core Values?
What are the 3–7 vital and timeless guiding principles you want to establish for your organization? This is a critical exercise to establish the kind of culture you want to create and the kind of people you want to attract, whether they’re team members, clients, or stakeholders. Core Values should be unique to the organization. What is important is to define, communicate, and live them every day as an entire organization.
2. What is your Core Focus™?
This doesn’t have to be complicated. Start by defining your two truths: your purpose and passion, and your niche. Deciding what kind of business you are — and being in that business — will help stave off the pursuit of things outside your niche, shiny objects, and other such distractions.
3. What is your 10-Year Target™?
This one takes more work. Ask 10 people where they want an organization to be in 10 years, and you’ll likely get 10 different answers. This is a larger-than-life goal. Thinking about revenue and other motivating factors will help you answer this question (even if it takes a while). Once established, the answer should excite, energize, and unite the leadership team and, by extension, your entire organization anytime they see this 10-Year Target.
4. What is your marketing strategy?
This is best determined by defining your Target Market (where you’ll appeal to your ideal customers), your 3 Uniques™ or value proposition, your proven process (proven way your product/service is delivered to customers), and your guarantee (what your customers can count on from you). Together, these four elements represent a consistent strategy the entire organization can support through marketing materials, sales presentations, and the like.
5. What is your 3-Year Picture™?
We’re painting with some broad strokes here, trying to envision what things could look like a few years from now. What we’re not doing is overanalyzing the threats and opportunities along the way. Pick a date, decide on a revenue target for that date, and assign some relevant measurables (like number of clients, products, website visits). With measurables in mind, have your leadership team members jot down a bulleted list of what your needs will be in three years. Then choose elements that represent what the organization will look like in three years in the future.
Gain Traction® to Go Further, Faster
The Traction piece of the V/TO is where we make the long-range vision real. We are going to keep it powerfully simple and continue to practice less is more.
So, with the first five of the eight questions answered in Vision, we continue to the Traction side with the last three questions to complete the V/TO:
6. What is your 1-Year Plan?
This is where you’ll hit the ground running in support of longer-term goals established in your vision. With the 3-Year Picture in mind, decide on the 3–7 most important priorities that must be completed this year to stay on track with that picture. These become your goals, and they should be specific, measurable, and meaningful to anyone who sees them.
7. What are your quarterly Rocks?
This is where we’re really rolling up our sleeves and tackling the critical objectives for the quarter in support of our 1-Year Plan. Rocks are what create a 90-Day World® and help you gain traction as an organization. Design the Rocks, make them SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely), and add them to the V/TO.
8. What are your issues?
This is the final section of the V/TO. Outlining issues is critical to identifying the obstacles and concerns that may impede progress toward achieving your Vision. Don’t be shy here; leaders should encourage open dialogue where issues can be presented without the need to sugarcoat anything. Be honest and specific, and as a team, you’ll know exactly what you need to face to get where you want to be.
Who Uses the Vision/Traction Organizer?
The beauty of the V/TO is that it’s crafted by some but Shared by All, providing focus and alignment — not to mention a thriving environment — from the top down. As leadership gets on the same page regarding The 8 Questions, a blueprint is eventually established for everyone in the organization to regularly review and act upon.
The vision cascades down from the leadership team, informing the work that needs to be done by various teams at department levels. It’s highly beneficial to always have the vision as a reference as you go about the day-to-day work. Knowing how your efforts support a larger purpose serves as a rallying point and energizes people as they imagine a more successful future for the company and themselves. When organizations leverage the Ninety software for running on EOS, we have a no-cost observer seat that can get everyone access to the V/TO.
Effectively Communicate Your Company Vision
Now that we’re done with the V/TO, it’s important to note how we’re going to communicate the vision to our organization. Typically, there are three events designed to share it. They are:
- All-company meeting: This is an opportunity to not only share the vision but to also introduce the Core Values with a passionate, well-written presentation that can excite and galvanize the entire organization.
- Quarterly State of the Company meeting: This meeting is where we share successes and progress, review the V/TO, communicate new Company Rocks, and update everyone on where we are as a company… and where we’re going.
- Quarterly Planning Meeting: As teams set departmental Rocks, reviewing the V/TO is a good practice.
It’s said that people need to hear things seven times before it truly sticks. The three forums above enable those opportunities, promote healthy discussion through Q&A sessions at the respective meetings, and provide clear direction for the actions we need to take today to make the vision a reality. The three meeting types can be configured and leveraged inside Ninety, which is especially great for remote teams.
Complete Your V/TO in Ninety
Don't let the complexities of strategic planning hold you back. If you’re ready to answer those eight questions and craft a solid vision for your future, Ninety’s software platform can help you outline it for all to see and act upon.
More than 10,000 companies and over 145,000 customers use Ninety to help them achieve their true potential, attain collective clarity, and experience the power of harmony.
Whether you're new to or familiar with EOS, begin your journey today by starting a free trial. Our onboarding specialists are available to bring clarity and confidence to implementing the software, and if interested, we can connect you with a Professional EOS Implementer® for support in a pure EOS implementation.