In – On


You are either working IN your business, or ON it.



When working IN your business, you essentially operate it. When you work ON your business, your activities either CHANGE or TRANSFORM it; you bring forth new ways for the business to operate and produce extraordinary results in the market. 


Every leader must spend some time working IN the business, making sure the work gets done, people stay on task and decisions that move the business forward are made. But too many people get stuck there and don’t devote enough energy to working ON the business, looking for patterns that retard growth and leading CHANGE or TRANSFORMATION, which by definition disrupts even the successful patterns of those working IN the business.


The power of this PRIME is unleashed once you recognize that at any time, you’re either working “IN” your business or “ON” your business. IN isn’t ON and there’s no overlap. When working IN your business, you essentially operate it.


IN is seductive, while ON is ambiguous and scary. IN provides rich opportunities for leaders to take control and “save the day,” with expressions of praise and awe from staff and peers. ON carries an inherent risk of being wrong and embarrassed. IN wants all of the leader’s attention and is threatened when he or she takes time to work ON the business. As long as IN keeps a leader’s attention, nothing changes. Anyone can work IN a business, but if leaders don’t work ON their business, neither will anyone else.



The IN – ON PRIME will be violated. You may be the one who violates it…often.  Watch your time carefully. Color-code your calendar. There is no formula to follow in allocating your time to IN or ON, and the perfect mix will change with the needs of your business.



Failing to recognize the distinction between IN and ON – mismanaging the critical allocation of time and attention to each – is the number one reason that CHANGE and TRANSFORMATION efforts fail. Conversely, mastering the IN — ON PRIME may be the most important way to drive successful CHANGE and TRANSFORMATION, create the future, and produce extraordinary results. 


Special thanks to Kai Dozier of CEI-Star, for his invaluable insights in developing this PRIME.