What is GRIP?

The GRIP System
Developed by Logan Lenz
GRIP was developed to solve the problem of determining priorities to focus on with greater detail than just listing the general topic. GRIP attempts to understand the event, the problem(s) attached to it, assigns roles across participants, and establishes accountability. GRIP is a structural process that will lead to greater visibility across the management team, sharpen the focus, and allow for a more collective decision-making process.
Treat GRIP like a swear jar. Any time any managers come across an opportunity or event that does not already have a predetermined action or process attached to it, the manager needs to drop it into the GRIP to be reviewed and prioritized.
GRIP not only represents a company’s need to “Get a grip” on all that is happening, but GRIP also emphasizes the importance of a clenched fist. You can’t grab hold of something without clenching your fist. You can’t clench a fist without exerting force. GRIP thereby encourages immediate action under mostly urgent conditions.
GRIP is an acronym that makes up of every submitted event, opportunity, or discussed topic’s 4 unique types of classifications. Those classifications are:
  1. 1.
  2. 2.
  3. 3.
  4. 4.
Goals: A manager should submit a Goal into GRIP when she uncovers a desired outcome. This desired outcome can be as clear and specific as “Close XYZ Account” or as derivative as “Make Henry like me again.” More information on why the details aren’t as important will be clarified as the role of the GRIP Master is introduced.
Resources: Managers will come across many alluring opportunities to buy the latest and greatest tool. Perhaps a Sales Manager stumbled on a potential new partnership entity. Anything that can be leveraged from the outside can be classified as a resource, but the purpose of submitting Resource considerations into the GRIP is to confirm that the resource isn’t a distraction.
Improvements: Managers will come across opportunities to improve current processes, policies, or procedures in multiple ways. Whether the manager hears direct feedback from their team or finds an outdated or broken component to an existing operation doesn’t matter. What matters most is that submitting the observation into the GRIP will ensure it gets looked at immediately.
Processes: Many companies know they need certain processes, but never get around to formalizing them. Managers should always consider their own process lists and build an exhaustive list as they interface with them. Once process opportunities are submitted to the GRIP, the ones that make an impact will be mapped out and shared with the involved teams, only to then be saved in the company’s “Confirmed Processes” document.
The Submission Process
Items should not be too easy to submit into the GRIP. The reason for this is twofold:
  1. 1.
    The submitting Manager will need to take the time to think about the item and classify it on their own.
  2. 2.
    Items should be priorities and too many priorities are a distraction. In other words, quality trumps quantity so volume should be limited however possible.
New items are to be submitted at an internal URL. This webpage hosts a brief form that auto-populates a file that is collected by the GRIP Master in real-time.
The GRIP Master
The GRIP will not succeed if there is not a devoted GRIP Master overseeing Management’s interactions with the GRIP. The main roles of the GRIP Master are as follows:
  • Collect new submissions
  • Add submissions to the shared GRIP document
  • Introduce GRIP items during meetings
  • Ensure all items get categorized between priorities now and priorities later
  • Assign RACI matrices to each current priority
  • Assign any to-do items to RP (responsible parties)
  • Schedule cadence of meetings to maintain the GRIP over time
  • Ensure the public GRIP is always up-to-date and free from jargon
GRIP Meetings
GRIP is most effective when it takes center stage during management meetings. After all, if participants do their part to submit any items that matter, the GRIP should already house any possible discussion items. Thus, GRIP embodies the structure of most important meetings.
A GRIP meeting is to be led by the GRIP Master and structured as follows:
  1. 1.
    The GRIP Master initiates the meeting and provides introductions (as needed).
  2. 2.
    The previous meeting’s GRIP items are reviewed and progress updates are provided by the RP’s.
  3. 3.
    The GRIP Master introduces new submissions.
  4. 4.
    New submissions are assessed and prioritized.
  5. 5.
    Non-current GRIP items are quickly reviewed and escalated as availabilities arise from announced completions (from #2 above).
This process repeats every meeting. The more often GRIP meetings occur, the shorter they will be. It is encouraged to have one main GRIP meeting once per week and 1 to 2 follow-ups throughout the week to check progress and review any urgent submissions.
Handling Urgent Submissions
Any time a Manager submits an urgent GRIP item, it is both the submitter and the GRIP Master’s duty to ensure an ad-hoc meeting gets set up to review the urgent item immediately. It is not mandatory to always have every GRIP participant at all of these meetings. However, consensus is necessary for those in attendance so that the assumed “urgent” item gets agreed upon by more than just the submitter.
Of course, some events may be so extreme that there will be no time to submit to the GRIP or even hold a meeting. In these cases, the GRIP Master should still document the event as it becomes visible (on their own) or attempt to field the topic during the next scheduled GRIP meeting so that everyone can still weigh in.
RACI Matrices
The beauty of GRIP is that it is built around the RACI premise of ensuring each item gets assigned and tracked effectively.
RACI is an acronym that stands for:
  • Responsible (party)
  • Accountable (party)
  • Consulted (party)
  • Informed (party)
All prioritized GRIP items will have multiple parties interfacing with it. RACI Matrices are important during this process so that everyone is clear on the delegation of responsibilities.
Responsible: This is the party that will be doing the action.
Accountable: This is the neck to choke if something goes awry.
Consulted: This is who will be assisting with the completion based on subject matter expertise.
Informed: This is to ensure there is visibility across the team that is necessary to know the item exists, especially upon completion.
A standard RACI chart lists out the tasks in rows while the columns are the responsible parties. In GRIP, the submitted items replace the tasks and it is up to the organization to assign the columns to departments within the organization or the managers involved in the meetings.
Filling Out a RACI Matrix
To be most effective and thorough, GRIPs work the best when a manager is assigned a role, and then said manager assigns tasks within their departments thereafter. For example…
If Bob attends the GRIP Meetings as the Manager of Customer Service, but one of the prioritized GRIP items is to send out data reports to all clients, Bob would most likely be listed as both the responsible and accountable party in the Management team’s version of the RACI matrix, but it then becomes Bob’s responsibility (or the GRIP team if time permits) to assign tasks to his Customer Service team to encompass the GRIP item. For the above item, specific tasks might be “build the database,” “confirm the accuracy of the data,” and “draft the emails to clients.” Since these would fall under one single department, it’s very likely that these tasks would be spread out between multiple team members. What matters most, though, is that Bob is accountable for his team member’s execution because the GRIP will ask him for updates on the item during the next meeting.
Identifying Failure in the GRIP
The GRIP’s design is made to be so straightforward that it becomes natural to weed out lingering items, unproductive team members, and internal communication breakdowns. While negativity should never be brought into GRIP meetings, the Management team can individually assess poor performance by holding brief meetings regarding someone else’s lacking performance. This critique should become much less subjective within GRIP in that…
  • Accountable parties should always have come prepared with an update to their GRIP items.
  • Excessive submissions of new GRIP items that fail to be prioritized reveal a team member’s differing opinion on what is important.
  • Inability to map finished to-dos to GRIP items reveals a lack of team member focus.
  • Accountable managers that assign tasks to team members are able to track employee performance based on desired outcomes, timelines, and overall enthusiasm.
GRIP Manages Pivots
GRIP is most impactful when utilized by fast-paced startups that are constantly being inundated by new opportunities. Managing growth is hard enough, but managing focus is even harder. There is no better way to ensure everybody in the company is always working on what’s most important than to get ahead of these pivots by observing them, vetting them, and agreeing that they’re important as an entire team.
Without GRIP, startups find themselves disjointed quickly as one Founder pursues a great new opportunity while the other works on their original plan. Even if the two of them met a week later to reassess their work, they would spend a great deal of time disagreeing and setting the priorities - not to mention the lost time of whomever was working on the wrong project!
GRIP vs Pareto Charts
If you look at a standard Pareto chart, you may immediately notice its limitations. First, the topics have no classification; they are simply descriptions of things that are assumed to be important. This makes identifying dependencies extremely difficult. For example, having a Help Desk might be a priority, but reviewing Zen Desk and Fresh Desk have to be tackled in order for the priority to be completed. Pareto charts traditionally ignore the granular details. GRIP allows for each level of granularity to be their own item (and/or allowing the GRIP Master to map similar items together to assign tasks).
Pareto also doesn’t allow for the items to have a layer of extrapolation. Case in point - if a company wants to drive $5 million in sales this quarter, it’s extremely difficult to make that a priority. What has to be done to achieve this? Why is this even a goal? GRIP innately classifies something like this as a goal and simply uses it as a reference during the GRIP’s updates. Goals need not be reviewed more than weekly. That’s where sorting through classifications accordingly helps out immensely.
Finally, Pareto charts don’t have an actionable structure to them like GRIP does with RACI matrices. It’s important to attach the RACI variables to every single important item so that communication carries through the completion of milestones.
Ignoring Deadlines
One of the most powerful aspects of GRIP is that it does not instill fear and worry in Managers. No rushing. No negativity. No being distracted by making up pretend due dates. Just results.
By replacing deadlines with frequent meetings, you establish accountability and follow-up so that progress can later dictate expectations. It’s historically unfair for a Manager to be forced to a 2 week deadline on a task surrounding innovation simply because, by default, it’s something that has never been done before. These wrongly forecasted deadlines typically distract participants away from what’s most important - “progress.” What’s worse is that most participants, to no fault of their own, may make things up in order to not look bad in front of their peers.
We don’t want to encourage excuses or poor performance. Instead, GRIP encourages open communication and encouragement.
Last modified 2yr ago