Entrepreneurial business owners and CEOs are known for their great vision. They can see what’s possible that others don’t see. But they often get frustrated with making that vision a reality. Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters tackle that conundrum in their book, Rocket Fuel: The One Essential Combination That Will Get You More of What You Want from Your Business.
In Rocket Fuel, they reveal the critical relationship between Visionaries and Integrators—those who cast a vision for the organization and those who can take that vision and make it happen. When a company gets this relationship right, it’s like rocket fuel for the organization, and it takes off to a whole new level.
We talked with Mark C. Winters to learn more about the book and the concepts behind it. Here’s what he had to say.
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The Combined Power of Visionaries and Integrators
Traction Tools: Why did you write Rocket Fuel? What problem does it solve?
Mark C. Winters: It comes down to how central the Visionary-Integrator relationship was to everything that we do in implementing EOS. A lot of times, especially in the beginning of the EOS Process™, a Visionary would be trying to hold down both of those seats and not be entirely clear that that’s what they were doing. So we saw a lot of need in the EOS community, and it seemed like it would be helpful to give people some more structure and tools to help them deal with it.
TT: Why are Visionaries and Integrators both necessary to an organization?
MCW: Those two roles together, and getting them right, are vital. If you get that combination of Visionary and Integrator right, it makes everything else work better. And, in fact, it multiplies everything else.
For example, if the Integrator is absent and you have a typical, pure Visionary, they’re not good at integrating. In fact, they’ll do damage. It’s like the coach that keeps calling the wrong play. You could have really good athletes, but if the coach keeps putting them in the wrong situation, it makes it really difficult for them to win.
So with the Integrator, you’ve got good players in the right situation, and it just amplifies and multiplies what they’re able to contribute to the team.
The relationship will be different with each pair. But fundamentally, the Integrator is making it happen. They take everything that’s coming out of the Visionary’s brain, and filtering it a little bit—taking out the crazy stuff that’s inconsistent with the company vision and actually a distraction. They work with the Visionary to get on the same page and decide what to filter out.
But then the stuff that makes it through the filter, the Integrator is making it happen. They’re making sure it gets done and harnessing the team, knocking down the obstacles and getting everybody moving forward to make it happen.
TT: Is the concept of an Integrator unique to Rocket Fuel? Most people understand the idea of a Visionary, but the Integrator seems to be less common.
MCW: In the book we call out a couple examples of companies where we found it, in history: McDonalds, Ford, Standard Oil, Honda. It was present in those companies when they were still entrepreneurial. There was a Visionary and an Integrator. They didn’t call it that, but that’s how they were behaving. So the idea of that has been around for a long time.
TT: What are some common misconceptions you had to address about Visionaries and Integrators?
MCW: Well, probably the most common one is the Visionary who thinks they can do it all. Usually the Visionary is capable of doing a lot of things. They’re an entrepreneur who historically has needed to do a lot of things—and just by sheer necessity and the need to survive, they’ve gotten decent at those things. But they need to realize even though they can do this thing, they can’t do it nearly as well as someone who is gifted in that area and is really strong at it. There are things the Visionary is really great at that no one else can do. But the Visionary has to let those other things go in order to focus on their area of strength and Unique Ability®, as Dan Sullivan calls it.
Another misconception is that this Integrator role is actually a full-time thing. A lot of times, a Visionary will think, “Well, we didn’t have one before, and I was able to do it in my spare time.” So they put someone in the Integrator seat part-time. And we see this progression where they think they can get away with that. But as the business grows, they begin to see how vital it is to have a high-functioning Integrator—someone who’s really strong there, really capable, and has the capacity to do that role fully. Not just as a side project.
TT: Our Integrator wrote about her experience at the Integrator Mastery Forum, and she said she was surprised to realize that she’s actually the one running the company.
MCW: It’s interesting—when you get them all in a room together, it’s a powerful thing. Because they see each other and they realize, “Wow, there’s other people out there like me!” And that’s kind of an epiphany for them, because they thought they were unusual. Then they begin to see other examples of situations that other Integrators are in, and how they’re handling them. They see some really strong Integrators and it gets them to step their game up and shoot higher as an Integrator.
TT: It seems like in this unique partnership, that the Visionary and Integrator need to “click” personally. What do you do when you’ve got a Visionary and an Integrator who don’t click?
MCW: We have a process that we lay out in the book. The first four steps in that process are about the Visionary looking very closely at themselves and trying to understand themselves. So when looking for an Integrator, they need to find someone who is very complementary to the Visionary. And there are assessments in the book to help you do that.
One word of caution is that you’re not looking for someone you like, necessarily. A Visionary, left to their own devices, will hire somebody like them. And that is NOT what they need from their Integrator.
TT: What advice do you have to Visionaries and Integrators?
MCW: Know yourself. Do the work, take the assessments to understand who you are. That will get you clear on what you want. And some encouragement to find your counterpart. Stop trying to learn everything and master everything yourself, and focus more on who you should be teamed up with. That’s going to be much more powerful than you could ever be on your own.
And once you’re together, the cardinal rule is being on the same page. Ninety percent of the issues we see with Visionaries and Integrators goes back to not being disciplined about staying on the same page.
TT: Thanks for your time, Mark!
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