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Rocket Fuel – Book Review

Rocket Fuel by Gino Wickman and Mark Winters does a deep dive into two roles in a business: Visionary and Integrator. This powerful combination is not only necessary for growth but maybe a necessity for a small business owner’s balance and happiness.

The Visionary (you), the idea person and ultimate motivator, got your business started. The Visionary defines culture. It’s the person looking more than a month out. We often start a business and then get caught up in the hourglass, where we become the chief doers of the business. Every now and then we get our head out of the sand and try to remember what we were attempting to accomplish. If we’re playing both roles, the idea person and the doer, we stunt our growth, the growth of the company and become frustrated.

The Integrator isn’t necessarily the main doer. They’re the main manager and influencer, the one that connects the dots to the Vision. The Visionary is concerned with what. The Integrator is focused on how. The Integrator moves a team to action. They structure the path forward.

The combination of the creative and passionate (Visionary) with the detailed implementor (Integrator) is “Rocket Fuel”. Suggesting that now you are scalable, the Integrator listens to the Visionary and builds out webs or plans for achievement. Many great companies have both.

Often the Integrator is the silent one behind the stage. The Visionary is the public face. The Integrator is your #2, your go-to person. Do you have a #2? How much responsibility do you give them?

The problem is that many business owners don’t want to give up control.

There are many applications that contractors can take away from this book. For example, my brother Kevin Nolan, owner of Nolan Painting, has two Integrators: his CFO and his Human Resources Director. They implement his ideas, be it new training programs, benefit programs, pay for performance, opening new markets, new recruiting ideas and implementing new systems. Kevin paints the picture and they integrate the ideas into the company. Kevin reinforces it with his energy, praise, and constant focus, never changing directions.

Many small business owners have great ideas, that they can’t implement. An example of this is training programs. You want (and need) a training program, but it won’t stick. The absence of a training program in today’s labor market will prevent you from bringing in great people and training them to become capable craftsmen.

Often, I see the head of the office as the Integrator. This could be the Office Manager or VP of Operations. It could be the Finance Manager or HR person. The person must be able to influence others.

The Visionary/Integrator relationship is critical. Almost like Radar O’Reilly and Colonel Potter (from the television show: MASH), the Integrator can read the Visionary’s mind.

The Integrator:

  • protects the culture
  • communicates the details
  • follows up on the details
  • is a sounding board
  • runs organized meetings.
  • is loyal: would take a bullet for you
  • manages up; takes things from you
  • keeps the company on track with the planning process:
  • 90-day Plan priorities
  • Budget
  • Clarity of roles

Never stop looking for your Integrator, when you find yours, it’s ROCKET FUEL!

-Brian Nolan

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