Rocket Fuel


The best way to grow a business – particularly one in the $2 - $50 million annual revenue range is to have a "Visionary" link up with an "Integrator". When you have these two types of leaders working together in unison, magic happens. Visionaries see the future whereas integrators make it happen. So says Gino Wickman and Mark Winters in their book Rocket Fuel, published in 2015.

They go on to say that the world of business is full of stellar visionary/ integrator combinations including;

• Walt and Roy Disney at Disney

• Henry Ford and James Couzens at Ford

• Ray Kroc and Fred Turner at McDonalds

• Joel Pearlman and Rob Dube at imageOne

• Randy Pruitt and David Bitel at Detroit Radiator.

The simple fact is that growing companies need the skills of both visionaries and integrators, but it is extremely rare for an entrepreneur to be strong in both areas. More than likely, your company will excel only if you can combine the efforts of a visionary with the discipline of an integrator. If you can figure out whether you are an integrator or a visionary, then you will know which role you need to assume to excel and what type of person you need to work with to soar.

"An entrepreneur's lust needs to be counterbalanced with a manager's prudence and discipline. When it's structured correctly, the dynamic that exists between these two distinct leadership gifts can be magical. We have the privilege of spending every day teaching business leaders. We witness the beneficial results achieved by defining and clarifying these two vital roles. With them, companies gain faster growth, more peace of mind, more freedom, higher profitability, more fun, and considerably increased cohesiveness. When harnessed, it is very effective. It may be your way to finally break through the ceiling that's been hanging over you for so long." Gino Wickman and Mark Winters


The three most powerful points I took from the book were;

  1. Visionaries are passionate about seeing the future. They tend to think strategically and at the same time have their finger on the pulse of a market or industry. They tend to be good at connecting the dots and seeing linkages others just gloss over.

  2. Good integrators are like the glue in any organization. Simply put, they make the trains run on time

  3. It's vital that the visionary and the integrator stay on the same page and should have monthly 'same page' meetings to make sure that they are in sync


Visionaries & Integrators.

To harness the dynamic power of V/I match-ups, you first have to get to know the context of these relationships. Have a good idea of what being a visionary is all about, what a good integrator will bring to the party and how the V/I relationship can be structured and run. When you bring together the right visionary and a proficient integrator, you can spur your company to genuine greatness.

1) The Visionary

It has been estimated that around 3% of the general population are visionaries, and that those visionaries then go on to create about two-thirds of the new jobs being created in the economy.

Visionaries are great to have in your organization for a variety of reasons including;

  • Visionaries tend to be superb idea generators. It's not unusual for a highly engaged visionary to be churning out ten or more ideas every week. Some of those ideas might be impractical and some might even be downright dangerous but a few will be breathtakingly good and end up being game changers.

  • Visionaries tend to be superior big picture thinkers. They often excel at closing deals with major clients because they are interesting to deal with. If you're a visionary, you're probably good at solving big problems for your clients and customers.

  • Visionaries are passionate about seeing the future. They tend to think strategically and at the same time have their finger on the pulse of a market or industry. They tend to be good at connecting the dots and seeing linkages others just gloss over.

  • Visionaries are 'hunters'. They live to find big ideas, interesting opportunities and solutions which nobody has thought of before. They like to plunge in and actively explore the terrain.

Visionaries can crop up in a variety of different roles in an organization, including;

  • Founding entrepreneurs of the company

  • As the organization's "spark plug"

  • In-house ideas people and inspirers

  • Problem solvers

  • As the heart and soul of the creative team

  • Rainmakers who close the big deals

  • As innovation champions

The downsides of being a visionary are:

  • Visionaries have difficulty staying focused. You get bored if things stay the same way for too long so you'd rather spice things up to keep it interesting and engaging. Most visionaries get bored when a business is running smoothly and nothing challenging is happening.

  • Visionaries sometimes generate too many ideas. Far more than they can ever execute properly. That means it's all too easy to start something and then move on to something more interesting. For a visionary, storming the beaches is the fun part.

  • Your organization can get a little confused if you're a visionary. One day you'll be passionate about heading in one direction and the next day in an entirely different direction. After a few of these flip-flops, everyone can lose a sense of where to head.

  • If you're a visionary, you probably are not good at sweating the details – particularly at managing people and holding them accountable. Visionaries generally think in big picture terms and get frustrated slowing down and articulating the details of what needs to be done to others.

  • Visionaries typically aren't good at developing talent. They prefer to do everything themselves because it's quicker and less frustrating. If you're a visionary, you probably see your company as a way to dazzle the world rather than as a platform to let your employees take it further than you can.

  • Many visionaries are highly competitive. This is great for getting out in the marketplace but less helpful when you're supposed to be building a team. It's not at all unusual for visionaries to be aggressive and condescending in meetings and to appear dismissive of anyone who "doesn't get it."

When visionaries start their own enterprises, they often manage to achieve growth and success by sheer brute force rather than by finesse or systems. Eventually, they tend to come face to face with what can be termed the "Five Frustrations:"

  1. Lack of control. You started the business to get more control over your time but it has now become so big it feels like the business controls you instead.

  2. Lack of profit. You're working hard but the business still struggles to pay its bills.

  3. People. Nobody can do things the way you want them to be done. They're not on the same page.

  4. Hitting the ceiling. Your growth has slowed and you can't quite put your finger on why.

  5. It seems like nothing is working and therefore you keep cycling through remedies and quick fixes looking for a silver bullet.

As counter-intuitive as it may sound, the way to move forward and to defeat those frustrations is to embrace your role as a visionary and look for an integrator who will build the backup systems you need. You need to find someone you can trust and delegate the role of implementing your ideas to them. The sooner you do that, the sooner you will free up your energy and creativity to apply where you can add the most value.

"Entrepreneurs have an unrealistic optimism. It's chemical in the brain. They see things others can't." – Dan Sullivan, creator, The Strategic Coach

“If you are looking to grow your company, you can't do it without an Integrator. At some point you will have to relieve the weight carried on your shoulders and find someone to carry it with you." – Randy Pruitt, visionary, Randall Industries.

2) The Integrator

Good integrators are like the glue in any organization. Simply put, they make the trains run on time. Integrators can go by a variety of titles – general manager, chief-of staff, inside man, Chief Operating Officer or something else, but they all do the same thing. They integrate the major functions of the business and make sure the right things happen.

Integrators are very capable. They have many, many strengths such as;

  • Integrators are usually very good at managing people and holding them accountable for what they do. They're passionate about handling the day-to-day aspects of having a smooth running business.

  • Integrators are typically very good at getting the details right. They enjoy being accountable for results and removing obstacles so others can do their jobs effectively.

  • Integrators can foresee the operational challenges in new initiatives much better than a visionary can.

  • Integrators are quick. They can usually resolve an operational issue on the fly whereas a visionary would get bogged down on this.

  • Integrators are a steady force. They provide organizational clarity about what needs to be done and who is ultimately responsible.

  • Integrators are often fanatical about resolving differences of opinion. They are usually very good at forcing conclusions and aligning everyone to the business plan.

  • A good integrator will create strong functions which in turn will create the healthy tension between functions which is a hallmark of well-run companies.

  • Integrators get everyone in sync. They make sure everyone who works for the organization is pulling in the same direction. They create integrity and make certain systems are aligned.

  • Integrators act as the voice of reason. They filter out any of the visionary's ideas which are unworkable and then get to work themselves eliminating hurdles and barriers.

Overall, integrators are great managers and strong leaders. A good integrator will excel at team building because invariably he or she will be a good communicator. Integrators make sure the right things happen and accordingly are very valuable team members.

The downsides of being an integrator;

  • Integrators are unsung heroes. You will do all the essential behind-the-scenes work but someone else will often get the credit and the plaudits.

  • You'll be viewed internally as the "bad guy" or the "perpetual pessimist", because it's your job to poke holes in grand schemes. You will be the person who says "no" most often to new ideas.

  • You're usually the one who gets tasked with delivering bad news; or in other words you're in charge of the dirty work. That means you'll be the one laying off employees, having last-straw conversations and doing all the jobs nobody likes. That will make you appear callous or down right mean to everyone else in your organization.

  • You'll be accused of moving too slowly, because you insist on getting all the necessary background elements in place before going to market. More than anyone else, you will be keenly aware of your organization's limited resources.

  • Being an integrator is a lonely job and there will be a definite lack of appreciation. This is quite a thankless role and the better you become at doing your job, the less you will get noticed.

  • It will become all too easy for you to beat yourself up mentally, because you will be frustrated by your team's limits more than most. You will want to be doing things faster, better and more profitably, but you'll also know the reasons why things are the way they are. You will know people are counting on you and therefore you'll have unreasonable expectations for yourself and others.

Unsurprisingly, many of the best integrators in the business world are little known. For example, most people have heard of Ray Kroc and know him as the visionary driving force behind the fast food powerhouse McDonalds. His inside-man and integrator was Fred Turner who was initially hired as the grill man for Kroc's very first franchise store. Within the space of three years, Turner had become Kroc's right-hand man and he would go on to be fanatical about executing Kroc's franchise plan. Turner wrote the training manuals, created McDonald's franchise training program ("Hamburger U") and more.

Turner became McDonald's operations manager in 1958 when the chain had 34 restaurants and retired in 2004 when McDonalds had 31,500 restaurants. Similarly, Walt Disney is well-known as the creative driving force behind what is now a highly successful company. Lesser known is the fact the co-founder of Disney was his brother Roy who looked after the business side of the enterprise. Roy was something of a financial wizard and it was his expertise which drove the company onwards as much as Walt's creative input.

"If it hadn't been for my big brother, I swear I'd been in jail several times for checks bouncing. I never knew what was in the bank. He kept me on the straight and narrow." – Walt Disney

The simple fact is integrators are the unsung heroes of the business world but what they do is absolutely of value. Integrators act as the voice of reason by injecting logic and clarity into everything that's happening. They offset the zeal of creative people and force them to face the facts and put good systems in place. Integrators execute the vision.

"Making someone else's vision happen is a very noble calling, vocation, or purpose." – Gino Wickman and Mark Winters

"All human beings have a God-given set of capabilities, a true skill set or genetic makeup. A Visionary is meant to be a Visionary, and an Integrator is meant to be an Integrator. You are either one or the other, rarely both. There is a need for both an entrepreneur and a manager at the top of a company. Figure out which one you are, assume that role, and excel!" – Gino Wickman and Mark Winters

Visionaries and integrators have their respective advantages and disadvantages but it's when they team up and work together the magic sometimes happens. V/I is the perfect business combination. The dynamic tension which will exist between a great visionary and a savvy integrator can and does generate some impressive results.

V/I combinations tend to come together by one of four routes;

  1. Co-founders acting together. Two people get together to start a company and it later turns out one of them is a natural visionary and the other happens to be a good integrator.

  2. Partners align with their natural skill-sets. A company might have a number of partners and two of those will split off to form a V/I duo and go off and do their own thing.

  3. You might identify an existing team member who is a world-class integrator in waiting – and you promote them to that role.

  4. You can headhunt an integrator from outside your organization – and deliberately and consciously hire someone to put in place the systems and structures you will require.

John Rockefeller, one of the most famous industrialists in American history, formed a V/I duo with Henry Flagler after he approached him for funding to start his own oil refinery in 1867. Flagler brought in $100,000 and this was enough for Rockefeller to make the transition from grain commission agent to oil refinery owner. Flagler also devised a system of rebates which allowed Rockefeller's new company, Standard Oil Company, to outshine its competitors. By 1872, almost all the oil companies in Cleveland had merged with Standard Oil and by 1880 Standard Oil controlled 90% of the oil produced in the United States.

The interesting thing about any V/I partnership is tensions always exist. The two roles are polar opposites and therefore it's not surprising that visionaries and integrators drive each other a bit crazy when they team up. The relationship might get a bit testy at a personal level but for a company, having two strong personalities with different skill-sets is a perfect storm which, if harnessed correctly, can generate incredible results.

"One point of view or a single, uncontested power is rarely a good thing. Like the visionary and the operator inside a company, Democrats and Republicans in Congress, the Soviets and Uncle Sam in geopolitics, even Mom and Dad at home, the value of two opposing forces, the tension of push and pull actually keeps things more stable. It's all about balance." – Simon Sinek.

Another good example of the power of the V/I partnership is Henry Ford and James Couzens. Ford had made a few unsuccessful attempts at starting his own car company before he came into contact with James Couzens who was working for the Malcolmsen Coal Company. Alexander Malcolmsen was an early investor in the Ford Motor Company and his cousin James Couzens agreed to become a co-founder of the fledgling car manufacturer.

While Henry Ford obsessed over designing cars and manufacturing facilities, Couzens kept the books, watched what was happening on the shop floor, wrote advertising copy, created a dealer network for selling and servicing cars and busied himself with all the infrastructure building tasks. It was Couzens rather than Ford who instigated the pay raise for Ford's production line workers to $5.00 a day, twice the going rate of the day, which had such a huge impact on the company's success.

"Ford by himself could not have managed a small grocery store, and Couzens could not have assembled a child's kiddie car. Yet together they built an organization that astounded the world. Couzens understood everything about the car business except how a car worked." – Richard Snow.

As with any V/I arrangement, the tensions between Henry Ford and James Couzens were intense and evolving all the time. In 1915, Couzens unexpectedly resigned as general manager of the Ford Motor Company. A few years later Henry Ford bought all of Couzen's shares in the Ford Motor Company for $29 million.

In talking about visionaries, it should be noted not every company needs a Steve Jobs or a Walt Disney to come onboard as a visionary. In practical terms, not all visionaries are created equal.

The type of visionary you will need will depend on at least three factors;

  • The type of industry you're in

  • Your company's growth aspirations

  • Degree of market change or complexity.

If you're in a volatile industry where innovation reigns supreme and you're looking to grow rapidly, then you will need a standout visionary to come onboard.

At the other end of the spectrum, in an industry which changes little over the years and you have only modest growth targets, you might be better seeking a visionary with a more low key personality. They will be easier to work with and cheaper.

"No two V/I combinations are the same. Put another way, every Visionary isn't for every Integrator, and vice versa. Some Integrators have Visionary traits that could complement a Visionary's weaknesses." – Gino Wickman and Mark Winters

"For some companies, the V/I duo isn't so dynamic. Many duos are at their wits' end because the relationship is dysfunctional. Just as bad, many Visionaries don't have an Integrator at all and many Integrators remain undiscovered by the right Visionary." – Gino Wickman and Mark Winters

"Visionaries see the future, Integrators make it happen." – Gino Wickman and Mark Winters

Formation of a V/I partnership.

To get the benefits of the V/I dynamic, the first and most obvious step is you have to know yourself and then find your V/I match. If you're an integrator, it's generally a matter of identifying a visionary you click with. For a visionary to find a good integrator, the process is a bit more involved and generally involves six steps.

Integrator

1) How to find a good Visionary.

It's usually pretty straightforward for an experienced integrator to find a good visionary to work with.

The ways you can bring about a meeting include;

  • Use LinkedIn's search function – look for owners of companies with turnovers of $2 - $50 million and 10 - 250 employees. You'll find every major city in the United States has thousands of these companies. Identify some visionaries you admire and approach them to meet with you.

  • Put the word out in your personal network – let everyone know you're interested in connecting with a visionary entrepreneur and helping make their ideas a reality.

  • When you meet with someone promising, send the right signals – by asking them leading questions which show you know your role. For example;

  1. "How would you like to have someone in the back office executing on all the little details so you can focus on the next big thing?"

  2. "What would it be like if you had someone you trust involved who will make things happen?"

  3. "Would you like to be able to get away sometimes and still feel confident things will run smoothly while you're gone?"

  • Indicate your availability on current listings at www.rocketfuelnow.com, where there is a category for "Visionaries Seeking Integrators." Register yourself as an integrator who is available and see what leads you get. As a general rule-of-thumb, visionaries outnumber integrators 4:1 so there should be some healthy bidding for your services.

2) How to find a good Integrator.

If you're a visionary looking for a good integrator, start by looking inside your own organization first. See if there is a budding integrator waiting for the chance to step up.

If you can't find anyone, then follow these steps;

  1. Understand - where you are on the visionary spectrum. Whether or not your company needs lots of visionary energy to compete and excel.

  2. Map your visionary profile – document how you naturally tend to operate and the patterns you generally follow. Your incoming integrator will need to work with these patterns so you'd better clarify them first.

  3. Identify the type of integrator you need – come up with your "wish list". Figure out what areas they would have complete freedom in and their potential responsibilities and accountabilities. Think through the profile of your ideal integrator in advance so you will recognize them if you come into contact. Put your thoughts into a written job description for your future integrator.

  4. Figure out your readiness to hire an integrator – in terms of:

  • Financial readiness. Can you afford to hire an integrator immediately?

  • Psychological readiness.Are you ready to let go of some control?

  • Lifestyle readiness. Are you interested in working less hours so you can do other stuff?

  • Unique ability readiness. Are you prepared to do what you do best exclusively and let someone else handle all the other stuff?

5. Initiate your search – with the aim you want to consider 150 qualified prospects to come up with 20 interesting candidates and 5-7 highly qualified candidates you shortlist. You then:

  • Hire a recruiter and let them generate a pool of potential integrators for you to look at.

  • Reach out through your personal network for people to consider.

  • Try doing some in-house training and see whether someone can step up to the plate.

  • Evaluate whether someone on your current leadership team could become the perfect integrator.

  • See if another firm has a good integrator you can hire for two or three days a week.

  • Go to listing sites like www.rocketfuelnow.com and search through their listings.


6. You then go through the interview process and hire and on-board your new integrator on the basis that the first 90 days will make or break their long-term success. Do everything you can to make their initial 90-day experience as an integrator positive by;

  • Deliberately exposing them to your most important sources of information so you accelerate their learning.

  • Securing some early wins for your integrator.

  • Making sure everyone on the management team is aligned with the aim of getting your integrator up to speed quickly.

  • Establishing a foundation of trust and helping your incoming integrator feel like a valued member of the team. ° Making sure they have all the tools they need to succeed.

Never lose sight of the fact it will take a good 6 - 18 months for your new integrator to genuinely get up to speed and start adding value. Don't take shortcuts but let this natural bedding-in period go smoothly. The payoff for doing that is if you've followed the process, in the very near future you should be in a better position to get what you want from your business. You can focus on the new and interesting ideas with confidence because you'll have a solid integrator handling the business.

How to make the most of the V/I dynamic.

The keys to successfully working and leveraging a great V/I relationship are;

1) Same Page.

It's vital that the visionary and the integrator stay on the same page. If you have a V/I duo who get out of sync or alignment with each other, things can get pretty uncomfortable for everyone as mixed messages get sent out. This is so important than once a month, you should schedule a "Same Page Meeting" between your visionary and your integrator.

Use this meeting to check in with each other, to identify and work through any issues and iron out any disconnects before they get too serious. The meeting lasts as long as it takes for you to feel confident, you're on the same page with each other.

The other way you can be aligned is to map out your respective responsibilities clearly and concisely. Do this by creating an "Accountability Chart" for your business. This chart sets out who has responsibility for what and shows how things will change as your organization grows. By specifying boundaries, you give people freedom to make decisions.

For your company to grow, you have to make product, market it and then have the capacity to collect what's owed. You need a strong leader in each of these business functions who reports to the integrator. You want there to be tension between your functions as they compete for resources. All of the department or function heads report to the integrator who uses and blends that healthy tension to generate greater energy for the company as a whole.

In a small company, three functions usually suffice – (1) Sales and Marketing, (2) Operations and (3) Finance or Administration. As the company grows, these broad functions will split into more specialized functions. Large companies tend to have at least seven major functions: (1) Marketing, (2) Sales, (3) Operations, (4) Customer Service, (5) IT, (6) HR and (7) Finance. The Accountability Chart can be modified to suit.

Note the Integrator reports to the visionary. It's important that the visionary takes the lead and that there is no ambiguity about who reports to whom. The visionary must be in the driver's seat and set direction. The visionary and the integrator are not equals although it may appear that way to outsiders. Visionaries add value by being free to move out-front.

The four most common issues which arise with Accountability Charts are;

  1. The visionary may have problems letting some functions go – which can only be offset if the visionary comes to trust the integrator will hold those functions accountable.

  2. People may need to sit in multiple seats – which is not ideal but it is workable as long as they report to the integrator in that specific function.

  3. If the visionary or the integrator wear multiple hats, they have to allocate their time astutely – so they can also have some time to work at where their unique strengths lie.

  4. In a startup, the same person may have to function as both visionary and integrator – and the transition to having someone else handle the inside role may be hard to pull off.

2) Decisions

When you've got a good visionary and a strong integrator in place, sometimes there is a tendency for employees to try and make an end run. This is where an employee tries to go around their manager and appeal to the visionary or the integrator to get a different decision made. It's important not to let this happen.

The real heart of the problem is unproductive complaining. The employee wants a different decision and uses internal politics and/or access to other senior managers to try and bring about a different response. If you let that happen, you in effect neutralize the manager and leave him or her powerless to do their job in the future.

So, what's the solution? You must apply a two-step "No end runs!" rule. Here's how it works;

  1. If an employee who works in a different function and reports to a different manager comes to you with a complaint about their boss or a decision, hear them out. Listen carefully to what they're saying so they feel like their grievances have been adequately aired.

  2. Once you do that, you then ask "the question": OK, thanks for that. Are you gonna tell 'em, or am I gonna tell 'em where they went wrong? Because one of us needs to tell 'em. When you ask the question, you'll find most people are not willing to take the next step. That makes sense because if they had been, they would have already approached their manager themselves. By signaling that you support your managers and back them all the way every time, you break your people out of their old habits and signal to grow to the next level, your organization has to be properly run and managed. You position your enterprise to grow.

3) Tie Breaker

When you have a strong visionary and an astute integrator working together, it's easy to foresee situations where the visionary wants to make one decision and the integrator wants to make a totally different decision.

How do you handle that?

  1. Identify the real problem. Make sure the stated problem is the real issue and not something entirely different below the surface. Name the real issue in one sentence and hit the root. Keep everyone focused like a laser on the real issue.

  2. Have some discussion about solution options. Let everyone debate in an open and honest environment. Get everything out on the table.

  3. See if there is a solution available which everyone can agree on which generates the most gains for the greater good. If you've got a healthy team, a viable solution everyone agrees with will surface most of the time.

  4. If you're still in a stalemate, the integrator makes the final decision. He or she is the tie breaker. You do what they decide. You should have the approach disagreeing is fine while a decision is being made but once the integrator has spoken, everyone on the team must commit and go forward.

The real key here is to stop the leadership team getting stuck in holding patterns. The simple fact is a good integrator tends to make decisions with the head whereas many visionaries make decisions with their heart. Good integrators will be in tune with all the issues, priorities and resources and accordingly tend to make better decisions.

As an aside, if the integrator is uncomfortable about making these decisions, that's a warning sign he or she may be out of their depth. If that continues, it may be time to find another integrator to work with. You need someone who can make the big, strategic calls when required to power your organization to move forward. You will have spoken about the issues at your Same Page meeting beforehand, so the integrator needs to be able to execute the plan.

4) Working in the business

You've got to have the mindset that when you're working in the business, you are an employee and you get treated as such. That's true even if you wear multiple hats and are also the visionary, the integrator or the owner. If you're working in the business, you have to live by the same rules as every other employee.

Admittedly, being an owner of the business is distinctly different from being an employee. Owners set the vision and strategy and then hope to benefit from a share of the profits derived. Owners also make the ultimate decisions about pretty much everything. When you're working in the business, however, you must be accountable for your role and play by the same rules as everyone else. If you fail to do this, problems will arise. Suggestions for making this work;

  • Hold a quarterly owner's meeting where you analyze your business and solve any and all issues which arise in conjunction with your visionary and integrator.

  • Attend the monthly Same Page coordination meetings.

  • Make sure you engage in 50/50 dialogue where you find out what others are thinking and then communicate what you want as an owner in clear terms.

  • When you're working in the business, always support your manager's decisions. Don't ask for any special entitlements or waivers from company policy.

  • Don't engage in office politics. If someone tries to appeal to you directly, apply the No End Runs! rule.

  • Acknowledge you can be fired if you don't perform as an employee.

  • Play by the rules. Let your visionary and your integrator make decisions with your integrator having the casting vote should there be disagreements.

  • Never forget ownership does not carry with it automatic rights of employment. If you're not the right person for the seat, you can and should be replaced by someone who is.

5) Respect

The best V/I duos respect each other and admire what the other person brings to the dynamic. You can't fake this. You need mutual respect as the foundation on which trust, openness and honesty flourish. When everyone in the management team pulls in the same direction, you have a shot at building a truly great company. Ideally, you want the visionary and the integrator to have a healthy relationship where each treats the other as an equal partner. To achieve that, make sure neither party ever makes any negative comments about the other to anyone in the organization.

Building the V/I partnership requires constant discipline and action. Keep in mind there's always going to be some tension between the visionary and the integrator. That's healthy and desirable as long as it is harnessed for the company's greater good. Mutual respect and good communication can go a long way to dissipating this friction. A joint commitment to leveraging this tension rather than letting it fester in the background is also helpful.

You also have to be patient and let the V/I relationship develop over time. This is generally not something visionaries are good at but building the V/I dynamic will take time. If you're just starting this journey, there are things you can do before, during and after hiring an integrator which will smooth the waters;

5.1 ) Before

  • Be deliberate in your integrator hiring process. Accept it will take longer than normal by reminding yourself this is a major hire. Take your time and date a little before you jump into this marriage.

  • Stay firmly engaged in the integrator's role while you're doing your job search. Don't take your foot off the gas assuming the new guy will do some catch-up. Keep working.

5.2) During

  • Allow a 90-day window for the integrator to get up to speed. Let them spend that time observing what's going on and talking with people before they make any changes. You'll need to continue acting as the integrator on a day-to-day basis during that period, so they have the freedom to acclimatize.

  • At the one-year mark, have a formal evaluation session where you both step back and look at how things are going. By this stage, you will both know each other and have a working relationship. The one-year meeting should be used to fine-tune your Accountability Chart and talk about future directions. Draw up a wish list of where you want to head in the future.

5.3) After

  • If your V/I relationship is working, then all you need do is – Plan, Execute, Get on the Same Page, Align and Repeat. Hold annual V/I evaluation meetings on the anniversary of hiring the integrator where you discuss expectations and make plans together.

  • If your V/I relationship isn't working, hold a postmortem and figure out where you went wrong. Treat this as a great learning opportunity. Have an honest conversation with your integrator and come up with a transition plan which will be amicable for both parties. Then dust yourself off and get busy looking for a new integrator.

  • Work together on developing answers to the important questions for moving forward;


  1. What are our core values?

  2. What is our core focus – what do we excel at?

  3. What specifically are our key 10-year targets?

  4. Who is our ideal customer?

  5. How do we appeal to those ideal customers?

  6. What will our company look like 3 years from now?

  7. What is our immediate one-year plan?

Break your organization's long-term goals down into 90-day chunks which people can focus on. Specify three to seven priorities you want everyone to work on for the next 90-days and explain those to your people. Every three months get together as an entire organization and evaluate how things are going. Commit to growing and moving forward one 90-day step at a time.

Every week hold a "Level 10 Meeting" with your leadership team. At this meeting, you look at your 90-day priorities and make sure you're staying on track. You also address problems which are cropping up, communicate and motivate. Level 10 means attendees rate this meeting highly because it's practical rather than theoretical.

Set up scorecards which can be reviewed at the weekly Level 10 meetings. The scorecards should show at a glance how specific people are tracking on achieving their individual 90-day priorities. Scorecards like this are great for telling you at a glance how your business is doing. You give each measurable a weekly goal, specify who is accountable for achieving it and then track how they are doing week by week.

You can also make the scorecard part of your V/I infrastructure and look at it at every Level 10 and Same Page meeting.

"We love entrepreneurs. We love Visionaries and Integrators. You are our tribe, and our life's work is devoted to helping you get what you want from your business. We sincerely believe that the V/I duo is one of the most powerful discoveries for taking a company to greatness." – Gino Wickman and Mark Winters


What I took from it.

Visionaries have groundbreaking ideas. Integrators make those ideas a reality. This explosive combination is the key to getting everything you want out of your business. It worked for Disney. It worked for McDonald’s. It worked for Ford. It can work for you.

Without an Integrator, a Visionary is far less likely to succeed long-term ,and realize the company’s ultimate goals—likewise, with no Visionary, an Integrator can’t rise to his or her full potential. When these two people come together to share their natural talents and innate skill sets, it’s like rocket fuel—they have the power to reach new heights for virtually any company or organization.

My Rating.