(Or a HUGE zucchini if you’re a vegetarian)


When I was a kid, my mom kept a vegetable garden. I’m not going to disparage her abilities but let’s say that we still bought a lot of vegetables every summer! Which made my mom’s crowning achievement as a gardener all the more amazing.

One morning, while she was weeding, she discovered a ginormous zucchini. Like the size of your thigh level zucchini. In fact, it was so big the local TV news did a story on it. (Imagine a camera crew in our backyard while my mom hoists this monstrosity of a vegetable in her arms — clearly a slow news day!) We ate that zucchini for days.

In a vast number of different ways. There’s no way we could have consumed it all in one meal, even if we’d invited the entire neighborhood. It was definitely a one bite at a time task.

Whether you’ve owned your agency for 20 years or 20 months… it’s a work in progress. I don’t know about you, but I find that both incredibly frustrating and equally exhilarating.

After many years of facilitating our agency specific version of Traction, I can tell you one of the biggest obstacles to improving your agency is that you are overly ambitious. You bite off more than you and your team can possibly chew and when it gets overwhelming (which it does pretty quickly) you abandon all of the efforts.

It takes a lot of patience and discipline to recognize that the ONLY way you can create sustainable, meaningful change in your agency is to eat the elephant (or zucchini) one bite at a time. An agency cannot focus on more than 3-4 big initiatives a quarter. And you aren’t going to get something big done faster than 3 months unless you put a dedicated FT team member on it for 40+ hours a week.

So let’s assume you’re with me on reducing the number of big goals you’re going to try to accomplish and you’re going to be reasonable about how quickly you can complete one.

The next question becomes when you have so many ideas, priorities, opportunities and challenges — how do you know where to focus your attention?

That’s why we created the agency check up! (Download it here)

Take this simple assessment (a smart thing to do with your leadership team) and see what patterns and priorities emerge. Then, rank them in order of importance and ideate how you’d like to improve your score/outcome.

Take the top 3-4 solutions (which all may be focused on one problem area or might be scattered among a couple) and assign them an owner. This person is responsible for getting the solution implemented. That does not mean they have to do all the work. They might form a task force or partner up with someone else on the leadership team.

But it’s their job to get it done and in place by the end of the quarter.

If you try this — mark your calendar for one year from today. Call it the Eating the Elephant review. I think you’re going to be astonished at how much you actually completed and accomplished.

It turns out that when it comes to agency growth and improvement, slow and steady does in fact win the race.


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