Entrepreneurial Operating System: EOS Rocks vs Tasks

If you’re running your business on the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (or EOS®), you’ve undoubtedly heard about EOS Rocks™. These are the 3-5 things that your company absolutely must achieve to have a great quarter. More than that, they definitively move you closer to your annual goals, which in turn bring you closer to your long-term Vision™.

Rocks are, in short, the foundation of the Traction™ component. These are the achievable, ambitious goals that make your Vision a reality.

But, so many people get confused about Rocks. My clients, podcast listeners, and readers ask me, “what’s the difference between a rock and a task,” or “how do I know it’s really a rock”.

These aren’t easy questions for someone just out of the gate in EOS. So, here’s some quick tips to help you decide if that’s really an EOS Rock.


1: Is This A Real Challenge?

Let’s start off with the most common mistake people make when building their EOS Rocks: not challenging themselves. 

If your Rock is something that you can complete within a week, it’s not really a Rock, it’s just a to-do. In fact, if you look at that Rock and say, “I can 100% pull that off. Easy-peezey lemon squeezey,” then you aren’t challenging yourself. Even if you leave out the part about squeezing lemons.

The reason Rocks are so powerful isn’t just because they help focus your leadership team on achieving an important goal, it’s because they inspire you to do more than you normally would. If you are 100% sure you can achieve a Rock, you need to set the bar higher. When you come to your quarterly meeting and report that you finished this task, you should be proud. And the people at the table should be proud too.

Rule 1: EOS is about doing big things, not doing any things.

2: Is This EOS Rock Possible This Quarter

On the flip side, it’s important to ask yourself if you’re being realistic. Can you really accomplish this in just 3 months? 

When a team really pushes towards a Rock but falls just short, I tell them congratulations. Why? Because they undoubtedly made big strides that quarter. But, when a team regularly misses their Rocks, you should hear alarm bells ringing. Getting used to missing goals is a slippery slope.

3: Am I Willing To Die On This Hill?

Before your team truly commits to an EOS Rock, ask yourself if you’re willing to die on that hill. What do I mean by this?

If you remember, a Rock is something that you are willing to sacrifice for. You are going to accomplish that, even if it means ignoring other opportunities. I’m not talking about not doing anything but this while the company burns down around you, but you are going to lose ground on other projects.

So, before you commit to that Rock, ask if it’s worth it. Does it truly move the ball forward on a long-term goal? Is it worth losing out on other opportunities for? Are you ready to die on that hill?

4: Is This EOS Rock Just Part Of My Job?

Lastly, I’d like to address the financial people in the room. Well, everyone really, but this always happens with the finance person. 

A task that is part of your basic job description is not a Rock. Filing the taxes or producing a quarterly PNL is not a Rock. It’s your job. And, while it’s important, it doesn’t move the ball forward.

Financial people tend to get really stuck on this. Maybe it’s just the way their brain works. But, it’s a danger for everyone. Remember, EOS isn’t about treading water. It’s about swimming the English Channel. If you want to make progress, you have to be ambitious.