If you’ve read Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business, you’re familiar with the idea of a business operating system. Written by lifelong entrepreneur, Gino Wickman, Traction touts the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS®), and outlines six key business components: Vision, People, Data, Issues, Process and Traction®. To be successful, Wickman contends, companies need to define and align these core components.
It makes sense. Like a phone or computer, we as humans operate according to our core internal systems. Our beliefs, values and past experiences shape our individual actions. At work, the company vision, process, team dynamics, etc. determine how we work.
If you’re experiencing pain in your business—feeling stuck, frustrated or out of sync with your team, it could be a signal that your business operating system needs a reboot. But how do you know what’s working and what’s not—and what to do about it? It can be hard to define your strengths, weaknesses and next steps, especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
Luckily, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Peers, experts and business frameworks such as EOS can help show you the way. We caught up with Tom Barrett, a Bureau of Digital subject matter expert and Professional EOS Implementer™, for an inside look at EOS. Tom is CEO of Navigate the Journey, a consultancy that helps companies to focus and grow.
An Intro to EOS, the Entrepreneurial Operating System
First, a simple truth: change is hard. Typically, individuals and organizations won’t change unless the pain of NOT changing is greater than the pain of changing. So what is EOS, who is it for and how can it help your business?
As Tom tells us, EOS is a set of simple, practical, real-world tools to help entrepreneurs and leadership teams get what they want from their business. Designed for companies with 10–250 employees, EOS outlines six key components:
- Vision: Crystallizing the vision and getting everyone 100% on the same page about where the agency is going, and how it is going to get there.
- People: You cannot achieve a great vision without great people. In EOS, “great people” are the right people in the right seats.
- Data: Too many businesses run on subjectives, personalities, opinions and egos. Instead, you’ve got to manage the business through the right data so as to have a predictive and absolute pulse on the business.
- Issues: Every person and business has a constant barrage of obstacles, barriers and problems that arise. Successful people and businesses are very good at solving their issues.
- Process: Process helps you systematize your business so that it becomes more efficient, more effective, more fun, more manageable and ultimately more profitable. Process helps you and your people to stop recreating the wheel for processes that can be standardized.
- Traction®: Without traction, vision is a hallucination. Traction is all about executing what is most important in the business.
The Organizational Checkup
So how does your business stack up in each area? Take the Organizational Checkup™ to hone in on your strengths, weaknesses and some recommended next steps.
Implementing a Business Operating System
Regardless of whether you self-implement EOS, engage a facilitator or head down a different path, there are some important lessons EOS can teach us about business:
- Change is hard, but necessary. Stop updating your phone or computer OS, and it stops working. Businesses operate the same way. Ongoing development for your team and business is vital.
- Expectations can’t be met if they aren’t known. Sure, it’s hard to slow down to define your vision, values, process and roles and responsibilities for the people on your team, but doing so gets everyone on the same page. If people aren’t meeting your expectations, they may not know what you expect, or they may interpret your expectations differently than you do.
- Flat companies need structure too. At some point, your agency will either hit a ceiling, stop growing or become less profitable and more inefficient because it doesn’t have the right structure of roles and responsibilities. If your organization is flat, you can still implement structure such as an Accountability Chart to ensure people are all executing at the highest level.
- Systemize the predictable. As Gino Wickman, founder of EOS says, “Systemize the predictable so you can humanize the exceptional.” Implementing predictable systems ensures you have the time and energy to invest maximum creativity and strategy where it matters most.
- Delegation is key. At some point, the mix-up between ownership and leadership is not helpful. Owners will likely need to delegate some of their authority and responsibility, perhaps even taking a lower seat on the “org chart” in order to elevate roles and take their agency to the next level.