Management Practices

Data Stories: The Commitment List

Stacey Soble | June 5, 2017 | 6:34 PM
Ginger Bay's Commitment List.

A few years back Laura Ortmann and her management team at Ginger Bay Salons and Spas in St. Louis became frustrated when they realized every time they went into the annual planning meeting, the same goals—like overhauling the employee handbook and developing a new stylist training program—would creep onto the list year after year. “Like all salons, we’d leave the meeting then get caught up in putting out fires and put the big goals on the back burner,” she says. “Then, a manager brought me a copy of our annual goal list from 2010 to show me the handbook project was on it five years ago.”

So in 2016, the management team took all their lists and sticky notes and condensed and compiled them. They also put big sheets of paper with key salon functions, like technology, human resources, financial, marketing, customer service and retail, around the room and asked the managers to put ideas on each list. They then created a composite list and had each manager go back and rank the ideas on each sheet by importance.

Ultimately, they team created the “Third Location List” – a list of goals the team felt they needed to accomplish before they added another location. Instead of revisiting the list during the next annual meeting, the team started reviewing progress on the list at each monthly management meeting. In addition, Ortmann puts a manager in charge of each item on the list (and she takes responsibility for a few) and the person in charge is accountable for presenting progress on the goal at each meeting.

Laura Ortmann, owner of Ginger Bay Salons and Spas in St. Louis.
Laura Ortmann, owner of Ginger Bay Salons and Spas in St. Louis.

Soon, the team was crossing big items off the list—including the new employee handbook and the stylist training program—and putting new things on the list. Inspired by Steven Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” and his WIGs or Wildy Important Goals, they changed the name to The Commitment List. They’ve also learned that the maximum number of goals they can have on the list at any one time is seven. “Five would be great, but we always have more pressing issues, but 10 items is overwhelming,” Ortmann says. “What the list has really taught us is the value of saying ‘No.’ Our team has many great ideas, but when there are too many projects we don’t get as much accomplished.”

Ortmann says not only does it feel great to cross off big goals off the list, but there’s a value in showing the rest of the staff salon what the managers are working on. “When we cross a big goal off the list, we celebrate with the whole team,” she explains. “Recently we had a meeting where we reviewed 12 of the new policies in the Employee Handbook. Different employees were selected to introduce different sections, and afterword they celebrated with cupcakes and the announcement that the salon would close this summer for one afternoon while the team takes a retreat to a Cardinals baseball game.

Ortmann will be sharing the story of The Commitment List in her presentation at Data-Driven Salon, which will be held in Atlanta June 25-26. To learn more about the event or register, visit

More from Management Practices

Load More